EXPOTELA: FEELING THE PANG OF THE PESO

Byline: Anna Fusoni

MEXICO CITY — Small orders and a crippled peso put a damper on the second edition of Expotela, the fabric fair here last week featuring companies from the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
The three-day show, held at the Palacio Mundial de las Ferias, ended Thursday. The event featured 120 companies — about 100 from the U.S. — and drew 4,627 buyers, about the same as the first edition of Expotela, held in March 1994, when 4,618 attended.
The show drew mainly buyers from Mexico, about 3,000 of them. Apparel manufacturers from Mexico City, Monterrey, Guadalajara and smaller towns like Moroleon came to check out the fabrics and establish contacts. Expotela is owned, produced and directed by Bobbin Blenheim, a division of Blenheim Group USA Inc.
“This is a very difficult time for all of us,” said Josi Mizrahi of Tesiltex, a fabric supplier based in Mexico City. “I import and have been totally unable to price my fabrics. Manufacturers would like to buy and I would like to sell, but we’re stuck because of the enormous fluctuations of the peso.”
Fred Rogers, director of export sales at Dan River Inc., said the number of visitors was good, but they were less busy than at the previous show.
“People are interested in our products, but worried about prices,” he said. “The jury is still out.”
Felipe Migoya, president of Global Textil, Mexico City, which in addition to Dan River represents Concord Fabrics, New York, said Expotela lacked promotion and that there should have been twice as many visitors. He found American exhibitors not very interested in the Mexican market and said they had not brought the best of their textile collections. Frank Kule, executive vice president of Galey & Lord’s uniform fabrics division, said despite the current economic conditions, Mexico presented tremendous long-term growth opportunities.
“Right now,” he said, “we really don’t know what will happen with the peso debacle. Price becomes a problem, as do quantities. A lot of apparel manufacturers in Mexico want to place very small orders and we cannot sell under 5,000 yards.”
Yardage was also a for problem Reeves Bros. Inc., New York, a supplier of gray and finished fabrics, said Martin Moreda, the company’s industrial woven fabrics operations manager.
“This is the third time we have been in Mexico and our fabrics generate a lot of interest, especially the linen type,” Moreda said. However, he said most of the requests he received were for 500 yards or less, far below Reeves’ 2,500-yard minimums.
“The only way we can do business in Mexico is by having a distributor,” he said.
However, Alejandro Ramirez Novelo, sales manager at Parras Cone de Mexico, Mexico City, said that fact that few orders had been written was characteristic of Mexican shows.
“Mexican apparel manufacturers do not buy at shows,” Novelo said. “They have no long-term planning either. This makes sales difficult.”
A big North Carolina Pavilion of yarn manufacturers, with companies like Glen Raven, did not attract much attention because their products are more oriented to the textile community and apparel manufacturers came to see fabrics. “I know I’m not going to write any business here,” said Glen Raven sales manager Bob Smith. “I know the Mexican market well and we do well here, but there is no real commercial reason for us to be here.”
Other large textile firms, such as Milliken & Co., did not present their textile lines for apparel. Rather, the company’s stand featured fabrics for applications such as tires, grass bags for lawn mowers and bedding fabrics.
Patricia Helms, executive director of Textile Trading Co. of America, Boston, which deals in wool and fine fabrics, said she was unsure whether Mexico would be a growth market, “but we had 35 real negotiation talks.”
TTCA also exhibits at the Hong Kong edition of Interstoff and will look to expand markets in Korea, Chile and Argentina.
Still, despite an overall lack of heavy business, some buyers found specific items they were looking for, among them, novelty fabrics, prints and fabrics with Lycra spandex.
Executives from Grupo Industrial Anzures, Mexico City, said they had found interesting fabrics, as did Christina Aleman, head of Ambrosia, a swimwear manufacturer in Mexico City, who was most interested in Lycra spandex fabrics for a new children’s swimwear line she is working on.
Jacobo Ganani, manager of Organizacion Nami, Mexico City, a casualwear company specializing in private label, was looking to establish personal contact with his textile suppliers. He said novelty fabrics, primarily in rayon, topped his hit list.
Some exhibitors said that despite the small amount of business written at the show, the trip to Mexico was worth it. Symphony Fabrics Corp., New York, now represented in Mexico by Compania Industrial Kindy, reported sampling was much better than expected, according to Rosa Reveron, a sales representative with Kindy. “Our new line of glitter and slinky-type fabrics is very hot, especially with our coordinating taffetas and sheers,” Reveron said.
William White, laminated products manager for John Boyle & Co., Statesville, N.C., said, “I’m happy with the number of contacts we made.”
Bob Rothchild and Mark Miller, two principles of Sew Easy Fabrics USA, Jersey City, N.J., reported their printed nylon and Lycra fabrics generated interest, and that they found the show “surprisingly good.”
Another exhibitor reporting fairly good buyer interest was polyester producer Celanese Mexicana, Mexico City, the Mexican arm of Hoechst Celanese Corp.
Marketing and development executive Esperanza Martinez said apparel manufacturers were turning to the company to find Mexican textile firms with products the apparel makers could substitute for imports. “Let’s hope,” she said, “the Mexican textile industry is ready for this.”

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