By  on September 13, 2005

PARIS — These are tough times for European textile firms.

With China's growing production prowess — despite a deal to limit growth over the next three years — the pressure from cheaper competition continues to mount. At the same time, Europe's retail and economic environment remains difficult.

Organizers of Texworld are counting on the competition in less-expensive goods to lead to a lively fair, drawing exhibitors from countries such as China, India and South Korea. Produced by Messe Frankfurt, the show will convene Sept. 19-22 at the CNIT complex at La Defense, the business district just west of Paris.

"Basically, the climate is not very optimistic," said Stephanie Keukert, the show's director. "There are concerns about energy costs and that life, overall, is becoming more expensive. It would be wrong to be too optimistic."

Still, Keukert said, "Our exhibitors have great possibilities at this time. They are in a better position [than European mills] because of the prices."

Texworld traditionally has been the cheaper counterpoint to Première Vision, the foremost window for European mills that cater to fashion houses around the world.

"We always thought of ourselves as synergetic [to PV]," Keukert said. "We would not want to say that we've become the competition now."

One reason, Keukert suggested, is that Texworld's 620 exhibitors have improved their product.

"The majority of our exhibitors have understood the need to improve quality and creativity," Keukert said. "They've understood the need for more marketing and that they must develop service. They've seen that European buyers demand more than Asian customers."

Meanwhile, Keukert said more high-level buyers are coming.

"We, as organizers, have pushed our exhibitors [to cater to this market]," she said.

Keukert expects brisk business this season. The number of preregistered attendees is 5 percent ahead of last year, which she attributes to efforts to attract more European and Middle Eastern clients.

The fair will also be addressing China and its booming textile business. Several Chinese textile executives are to discuss a range of issues affecting the future of the industry during a roundtable conference on Sept. 22.Texworld will feature about 100 textile companies from China. India and South Korea have slightly more exhibitors than China.

Indian mills have been performing well recently, Keukert said, especially with the vogue for intricately embroidered fabrics.

"India is really opening up and they are decreasing their import duties, looking for investment and growing their middle class," Keukert said. "Pakistan is another country with a healthy textile industry."

Korean exhibitors, however, have suffered.

"They haven't invested enough in creation," Keukert said. "In today's environment, a low price isn't enough to bring success."

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