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Alfred Dockery, Technical Editor

Avondale Quietly Fades Away; Spinners Report Brisk Business

Alfred Dockery, Technical Editor

T he latest episode of the incredible shrinking textile industry stars Monroe, Ga.-based Avondale Mills Inc., a 161-year-old, diversified, vertical manufacturer with a reputation for modernization and innovation. Avondale ceased operations in July and sold three automated, ring-spinning plants to Parkdale Mills Inc. A 2005 train derailment and resulting massive chlorine spill at one of Avondale’s Graniteville, S.C., facilities, as well as intense foreign competition, were cited as the major reasons behind the shutdown. About 3,300 jobs will be lost.

“It is an extremely sad situation for a company with that kind of heritage,” said a specialty multisystem spinner. “I’m glad to see those spinning mills in the hands of Parkdale. It will keep that production in the United States.”

“Avondale could have survived [the train wreck], if it had happened in the ‘90s,” said a specialty ring spinner.

“[Avondale] did such a good job on so many fronts,” said another ring spinner. “They’re not leaving anybody hanging as far as money owed.”

Several mill executives noted the industry will miss Avondale CEO Stephen Felker, an exceptional and inspirational leader. Everyone polled for this column agreed that acquiring the spinning plants was a major coup for Parkdale.

Picking Up The Pace
All but one of the spinners contacted this month reported full or improved running conditions. Production schedules range from five to seven days a week. Descriptions included phrases like “running wide open, absolutely slam full and very busy.”

“Running conditions have improved in the last month,” said an open-end spinner. “I have a customer that has been calling up here asking for delivery in a week’s time; I’ve had to tell them to start planning a little farther out.”

The weaving business continues to be strong. Some spinners think there may be an uptick in demand for weaving yarns as companies move to capture business from Avondale. Conversely, a few spinners were concerned about additional capacity coming into the market from Parkdale’s operation of the three former Avondale spinning plants.

Exports On The Upswing
In general, exports to the Caribbean and Central America appear to be ramping up. One spinner says more of his domestic customers are asking him to ship yarn directly to Central America. Another notes exports are steady and picking up.

Cotton and yarn prices are described as stable. Spinners are already hearing the rumblings of another polyester price increase. Rayon and polypropylene also are expected to move up soon. Polyester/cotton blends are slow to move, most likely because of the widening price spread between them and 100-percent cotton yarns.

USDA June Cotton World Markets Report
The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) projected 2006-07 world use of cotton exceeds 122 million 480-pound bales, including 51 million bales, or 42 percent, in China. The world excluding China is projected to consume 71.5 million bales, up slightly from 2005-06 — with 50 percent of this in India, Pakistan and Turkey.

India’s consumption is projected to grow more than 7 percent next year, increasing from 15.8 million bales in 2005-06 to 17 million in 2006-07. Much of this growth can be attributed to strong domestic and export demand for textiles and ample cotton supplies, which have pushed cotton prices lower.

Pakistan’s consumption is projected to increase a more modest 4 percent, from 11.7 million bales to 12.2 million in response to continued textile export growth. Turkey is projected to be the fourth-largest cotton consumer at 6.7 million bales. The strength of the Turkish lira is forecast to constrain textile exports in 2006-07, reducing cotton use by 3 percent.

The United States is projected to consume 5.6 million bales in 2006-07, down nearly 7 percent from the estimated 6 million bales consumed in 2005-06.

World cotton exports for 2006-07 are projected to remain stable at 43.5 million bales. The United States will account for nearly 39 percent of this, with a projected 16.8 million bales, maintaining the same export level as in 2005-06.

July/August 2006

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