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New Products, Business Strategies at Next Yarn Fair

NEW YORK — As they prepare for next week’s Yarn Fair International, yarn and fiber producers are focusing on strategies to keep their businesses competitive through tough economic times. Several firms are placing their bets on new...

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NEW YORK — As they prepare for next week’s Yarn Fair International, yarn and fiber producers are focusing on strategies to keep their businesses competitive through tough economic times. Several firms are placing their bets on new products, hoping that creative ideas will spur spending and keep them afloat. Spinners and manufacturers also are increasingly joining forces in recognition that there can be strength in a team.

The show is scheduled to run July 21-23 at the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood.

Nilit Ltd. will promote Sensil Pastelle at Yarn Fair, a new variety of 6,6-style nylon that dyes lighter than standard nylon and is receptive to both cationic and acid dyes. Molly Kremidas, merchandising manager, said Pastelle yarn can be mixed with Nilit’s Colorwise yarn — which dyes deeper than traditional nylon — and regular nylon to create multihued effects. For instance, she said, by using all three varieties, an apparel maker could produce a striped sock with three different shades of red with just one dip into the dye.

Since Pastelle is receptive to cationic dyes — whereas Colorwise and conventional nylon are not — a manufacturer also could mix cationic and regular acid dye in one bath to make two-color garments. In a different sock, for example, regular nylon would take a red color, while the cationic dye would make Pastelle take yellow.

“But we’re not suggesting that you can reach red and white or black and white at this time,” Kremidas said, acknowledging that the technology has some limitations. “We’ll be giving out a brochure at Yarn Fair that has eight colors and 10 formula recipes to make it work,” she added.

Although Sensil Britex nylon, which achieves very bright colors, is not a new fiber, Kremidas said there has been a strong interest in the fiber lately, especially in garments for the activewear market.

Nilit will continue its joint-marketing efforts with Unifi Inc. at Yarn Fair, through their joint venture, Unifi Nilit Fibers. UNF uses Unifi machinery to create Nilit-developed products, such as the heathered nylon Sensil Arafelle, which is distributed in the U.S. The two companies are taking booths next to one another and sponsoring a hot dog stand.

Forming joint ventures and seeking mergers has become an increasingly common way for companies to strengthen their positions in the domestic textile market, particularly when doing so lets them develop new capacities without making major investments in machinery and technology.

That’s what Kennett Square, Penn.-based Kennetex Yarns did when it acquired Cedar Jet Yarns in June, a hollow-spindle yarn company based in Scranton, Penn. In addition to space-dyed and package-dyed yarns, Kennetex has expanded its product range to include fancy yarns made on Cedar Jet’s hollow-spindle machines. Kennetex sales and marketing director Amy Seiler declined to disclose terms of the acquisition, but said the company had looked to expand into the fancy yarn market for some time.

“We just didn’t have the capability to make fancy yarns like bouclés,” said Seiler. “It was a goal that we had and then the opportunity presented itself.”

Eventually, the company would like to move the new machinery to the Kennetex headquarters in Kennett Square since Cedar Jet is located several hours away, she added.

Larger companies also have found it’s easier to ride the ups and downs of the shrinking domestic textile industry by focusing only some of their resources on that market. Meridian Dyed Yarn Group, of Valdese, N.C., generates sales of approximately $50 million annually and is a subsidiary of Meridian Industries, a $350 million company. The yarn arm is divided into two subdivisions: Astro Dye Works, which makes space-dyed yarns, and Valdese Manufacturing, which produces package-dyed yarns.

The Meridian offers yarns for the apparel, home furnishings and automotive industries, though the amount of textile clients has dwindled significantly over the past decade, said vice president of sales Robert Novotny.

KC Tex Inc., based in Charlotte, N.C., is a subsidiary of Kewalram Chanrai Group, a global trading company founded in 1860 that today works in real estate development, commodities trading, agriculture and textiles, with global sales around $2.2 billion, according to KC Tex vice president and U.S. head Rajeev Sisodia.

KC Tex was founded last year to cater to manufacturers in the U.S. in the industrial yarns, carpet, apparel and weaving fields, said Sisodia, noting this will be the company’s first time exhibiting at Yarn Fair.

The importer offers products including rayon blended with nylon, cotton and other blends.

Since KC Tex has warehouses in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York, the company is able to ship goods the same day it receives an order. Sisodia said first-year revenues are expected to be about $12 million, with second-year estimates between $15 and $20 million.

Similar to KC Tex, Canadian firm Imtex, which ceased manufacturing yarns about 10 years ago, imports yarns from countries including China, Pakistan, Indonesia, Turkey, Spain and Mexico. The company now offers acrylics, blends including polyester-cotton yarns and fancy yarns, some of which are kept in stock.

“About half our business dollar revenue is from [direct] imports, [with the balance of sales coming from products the company warehouses in Canada],” said Jeffrey Frank, owner of the Montreal-based firm. “We also keep some in stock to turn quickly. We try not to go overboard with design, we stock product and import dyed yarn and undyed yarn in order to anticipate some flux.”

Frank said the value of the U.S. dollar has decreased to a level so that now his customers are starting to export to Europe. However, since the Chinese currency is pegged to the U.S. dollar, it is extremely difficult to compete with Chinese prices, he suggested.

CNS Yarns, also based in Montreal, will develop products for clients in an effort to offer the customer something special. Currently, CNS Yarns’ business is up about 20 percent over last year, according to president Eric Nichols.

Nichols said he expects fancy yarns will perform well this year, so the company will have 26 new yarns at the show, bringing the number of products the firm carries to about 80 different fancy and semifancy yarns.

“We try to offer as many different looks and ideas as possible [in an effort] to not sell the same yarn to two people,” said Nichols. “That’s hell for production, but it makes the customer have something exclusive and unique.”

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