By  on March 22, 2005

SHENZHEN — Responding to the gravitational pull of China’s growing apparel industry, hanger manufacturer Mainetti Group is boosting its presence here.

The company last week opened factories in Shenzhen and Shanghai, and plans to open another facility to make wooden hangers here in five to six weeks.

“We are confident in the future of China,” said Paul Withers, regional managing director of Asia.

The company said its Chinese operations will allow it to produce hangers at a lower cost and to deliver faster to its customers who produce in China, said Michael Stakol, group chief executive officer. Mainetti’s client list includes a wide range from Nike and Old Navy to Prada and Hugo Boss.

The Shenzhen factory, the privately held company’s largest by far, will produce 700 million hangers a year and increase the Mainetti’s overall production capacity in Asia by 25 percent.

The 500,000-square-foot site houses a 250,000-square-foot manufacturing area, as well as a warehouse, dorms and a canteen. Currently, the factory employs 560 people, though at full capacity its staff will number 650.

The Shanghai factory will produce 300 million hangers a year. Combined, the two China factories have doubled Mainetti’s annual hanger production to about 2 billion. In addition to hangers, the company also produces accessories such as security tags.

The wooden hanger factory is expected to produce 10 million hangers a year. Most of the products from the Shenzhen and Shanghai factories are slated for America, which is where Mainetti is focusing its attention.

“The U.S. market is where the volume comes from,” said Andrew Rupp, newly appointed president of Mainetti’s operations in the U.S., as well as Central and South America.

Mainetti’s stronghold has been Europe, where it asserts its market share approaches 45 percent. It’s hoping to boost its 10 percent market share in the U.S. to more closely resemble its European business. 

That will entail convincing U.S. retailers that a hanger is part of the garment package and can help set them apart, said Rupp.

“Mainetti can offer some twist to the standard,” he added.The investment for the Shenzhen facility comes to $15 million, while Shanghai cost less than $4 million, Stakol said, adding that the company has invested $100 million in new equipment and molds in the past four years.

The company has seven designers who churn out 50 new hanger designs each year. They are supported by Mainetti Tecnologie, the design and research arm, which has about 32 workers who design the automated machinery for the factories.

The manufacturing floor currently has 120 presses, but 100 more will be moved in during the next three months, said Roberto Peruzzo, regional manager of the Mediterranean. There’s room for a total of 240 if demand rises, he said.

Mainetti previously had in place six factories throughout Shenzhen and also had operations in Shanghai.

Mainetti, which is owned by the Mainetti and Chandaria families, has operations in 31 countries, Stakol said. It aims to expand into Brazil, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Estonia, Lithuania, Russia and Israel in the coming years.

The group also is building a factory in Egypt, which is expected to open June 1. It is modernizing and updating its facilities in Turkey and Morocco, while its future development lies in India and Romania, where the company has bought land. 

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