HICKORY, N.C. — Strengthening the relationships and marketing tools between hosiery retailers and manufacturers is a major goal of the Carolina Hosiery Association, which recently adopted a new strategic plan, "Keeping Faith with Hosiery Manufacturing."With manufacturing more competitive and more foreign hosiery manufacturers than ever, CHA’s plan — developed in collaboration with Charlotte, N.C.’s The Hosiery Association — seeks $250,000 in grants and appropriations to enhance retailer relationships and create new business for members. Since CHA members are mostly small, family businesses, this is considered a critical step to ensure their survival.Since CHA became part of THA, the two groups have been collaborating to meet the challenges of staying competitive with a world market making fast inroads on the state’s former number-one position in the global hosiery industry. Working closely with their Hosiery Technology Center, CHA plans to develop a network of greige goods mills and facilitate partnerships with greige and vertical mills to lead to a demonstration project tentatively scheduled for December.Testing hosiery on all levels and developing a certification compliance audits program could also become a major factor in all future competitive efforts of the North Carolina hosiery industry, especially when hosiery retailers come to recognize the added value and marketing tool a hosiery certificate can bring to consumers.While the state’s hosiery mills still produce more than 60 percent of U.S. hosiery goods, CHA/THA officials warn of a potentially dim future, in part due to the continued consolidation of retailers and tighter deliveries demanded by stores. This is especially critical to U.S. hosiery manufacturers, as retailers are demanding lower-priced hosiery and turning offshore to meet consumer demand.

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