MEDELLIN, Colombia — Colombia’s biggest textile groups, Crystal and Fabricato, expect revenues to rise sharply by 2021 as they streamline production, draw new full-package customers and expand retail operations.
Crystal sees sales rising 15 percent annually to about $323 million after investing $15 million since to 2012 to buy hundreds of faster machines and winning new sourcing orders from Gap brand, Lululemon and Asics, production supervisor Jaime Sierra told WWD at the firm’s 2,500-strong maquila operation here.
The site is one of five factories Crystal uses to produce private-label apparel as well as garments for full-package customers Nordstrom, Dillards, Michael Kors, Lululemon, Adidas and others.
“We have been working to improve our production technology, inventory management and staff skills,” Sierra said, adding that recent investments have gone to acquire new, multifunction sewing machines to cut production times by 10 percent and improve thermofusion and corseting processes.
Sierra added the investments will increase Crystal’s automation rate to 30 percent from the industry’s 20 percent to 25 percent average rate.
Crystal, which hopes to open 40 shops for its Punto Blanco, Gef, Baby Fresh and Galax brands, intends to bolster production by 10 percent annually to about 30 million garments in three years including socks, “seamless” and knitwear items, according to Sierra.
Meanwhile, denim and knitwear producer Fabricato plans to venture into other apparel by forming revenue-sharing ventures with compatriots Supertex, Expo Faro, CI Globo and CI Jeans.
The firm — which is restructuring to recover from a 2013 stock-market scandal — will sell high-end fabrics to help the suppliers make more fashionable clothes for Diesel, Adidas, True Religion and Under Armour.
Fabricato expects turnover to increase 10 percent to 424 billion pesos, or $147 million at current exchange, this year after investing $10 million to purchase 15 new machines spinning yarn at 1,200 revolutions a minute, compared with the existing machinery’s 300 revolutions, among other upgrades.
“If all goes well, we should grow significantly in three years,” Fabricato’s investor relations director Diego Moreno said at the site’s main Medellin factory, which is set to raise output 5 percent to 54 million meters in 2017.
Exports will also increase to represent 35 percent of turnover compared with about 24 percent now as Fabricato targets new markets in Argentina, Central America and Europe.
The investments, which saw 1,300 people be laid off from the site because of the increase in automation, also included a $3 million water recycling plant to cut dyeing pollution, helping Fabricato cut lead times to six weeks from nine weeks.
Meanwhile, Supertex plans to earmark $10 million this year to start a new factory in Nicaragua in early September and boost production quality, bolstering capital expenditures to $16 million since 2013, manager Maby Millan said at the firm’s 1,200-strong factory in Cali.
Supertex expects revenues to rise 15 percent this year, slowing from a 25 percent rate to $85 million in 2016, amid tougher competition against Central American mills sourcing for Adidas, Under Armour, Patagonia and Nike, its top clients.
Supertex makes 10 million pieces a year at four factories in Colombia and El Salvador.