By  on January 11, 2005

NEW YORK — Moving to boost its position in the U.S. market, the Chinese textile maker Chartkar International (Holding) Ltd. has opened a Garment District office and is planning a major expansion of its Shandong manufacturing facility.

The mill, headquartered in Hong Kong, named Simon Kwong to the new post of managing director of global sourcing, merchandising and sales.

Kwong’s responsibilities include overseeing the company’s development of a garment business. Chartkar plans to open an apparel manufacturing plant employing 3,000 people in Shandong by early next year, and in the meantime is contracting with independent factories to produce garments for U.S. customers.

He said the changes reflect shifts in the market the company expects to accelerate now that the 148 nations of the World Trade Organization have dropped quotas on textiles and apparel.

“This is the future. Now U.S. companies will go directly to mills,” he said last week at the company’s 1333 Broadway office, which opened Jan. 3. “U.S. companies will want to buy garment packages, so our goal is to do everything so that we can be a one-stop shop.”

Chartkar sells more than $150 million of fabric a year, made in its four Chinese factories in Shandong, Fujian and Hubei provinces, and at more than 100 mills with which the company has strategic alliances. The company is currently doubling the capacity of its Shandong textile plant, which will produce up to 100 million yards of fabric a year when the expansion is complete.

The firm currently employs about 3,500 people worldwide.

Kwong, who spent the last eight years as a vice president at Cameron Industries and earlier in his career worked at Shamash & Sons, said he believes that having a presence in the U.S. will become more critical for Chinese firms as competition intensifies in the post-quota environment.

“You know who you’re dealing with,” when doing business with local staff, he said. “You’re not just sending a package overseas. You don’t have to wait 24 hours to get a reply when you have a question.”

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