Byline: Scott Malone

NEW YORK — Moving quickly to raise its profile within the industry, FTADirect.com, a new business-to-business e-commerce exchange, has lined up a group of members that will serve as its first customers, as well as obtaining its second round of financing.
The company also revealed that it is linking up with Softgoodsmatrix.com, the business-to-business site started by i2 Technologies Inc.
FTADirect.com’s initial members are domestic and international mills with revenues in excess of $5 billion, according to Devon Archer, who heads up business development at the Web site. Those members include Springs Industries Inc., National Spinning Co., Inman Mills, Harriet & Henderson, Royce Hosiery, Sapphire Group, Mayfair Group, Dar Es Salaam Textiles Mills and Quetta Group.
The partnerships are expected to be announced officially at a Monday press conference.
In a Friday interview at the dot-com’s Manhattan offices, Archer explained that FTADirect.com thought it was important to build its site, which has not yet hosted its first transaction, around a group of active textile companies, rather than trying to dream up a model and then apply it to an industry.
“We’re not hiring a drove of ex-textile guys to mix-and-match and figure out what the perfect textile B2B would be,” he said. “We’re going to use running pilots of real transactions” to build the site.
Archer said the exchange likely will host its first transaction within a month’s time.
Over the past year, the concept of Web-based exchanges for commodity products has become increasingly popular, following the success of such ventures in the automotive and chemical industries. However, the management of FTADirect.com, which includes former Cotton Incorporated chief executive Nick Hahn as chairman, believes exchanges in the apparel industry will have to be structured somewhat differently.
That, Archer explained, is because even commodity items made by different companies aren’t completely interchangeable. For example, the same denier of polyester filament made by two different manufacturers often will respond to dye somewhat differently.
Archer said FTADirect.com will seek to organize itself around the system of “pipes” that already drive the supply chain.
FTADirect.com also is joining forces with Softgoodsmatix.com, the apparel-industry Web site started early this year with VF Corp. and Warnaco Inc. as founding members.
Softgoodsmatrix.com is targeting all stages of the apparel supply chain, from fabrics to garments to retailers. FTADirect.com will serve as its fibers and fabrics sourcing arm, said Archer.

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