In a move to support the growing demand for synthetic yarn in North and Central America, Unifi Inc. is increasing polyester texturing capacity by up to 10 percent in those regions.

This story first appeared in the April 14, 2015 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The expansion, which involves adding texturing machines in Yadkinville and Madison, N.C., and in El Salvador, by June will also support the growth in the company’s premier value-added product lines, including new and expanding programs with customers such as The North Face and Ford Motor Co. Unifi did not reveal the level of investment in the three plants.

The expansion also reflects Unifi’s commitment to the Americas and to servicing the growing number of customers who choose to source their products in the Western Hemisphere, particularly countries covered by the duty-free import status of the North American and Central American Free Trade Agreements. Unifi, based in Greensboro, N.C., said regional synthetic apparel production has continued to grow in the last five years at an average rate of 5 to 6 percent annually. This incremental capacity will allow the company to better serve the growing demand for synthetic yarn in the NAFTA and CAFTA regions. Installation of the machinery is expected to be complete by June.

“We are very encouraged by the continued growth of synthetics in the U.S. and Central America, and the opportunities it presents for the textile industry,” said Roger Berrier, president and chief operating officer of Unifi. “We work closely with our customers to understand their production needs, and we are committed to investing in this region to provide the increasing amounts of synthetic yarn and other innovative products they require.”

Auggie Tantillo, president and chief executive officer of the National Council of Textile Organizations, said, “The Unifi investment is another example of how the NAFTA and CAFTA regions are gaining share as they continue to become more economical sourcing options. Unifi’s investment in additional capacity in the U.S. and Central America demonstrates the company’s commitment to sustain the growth and economic vitality we’ve come to expect in the region.”

Textile shipments within the U.S. and abroad totaled $56.7 billion in 2014 and the U.S. industry has become the third-largest textile exporter in the world. Exports hit $18.3 billion in 2014, a 45 percent increase since 2009.

Unifi produces a comprehensive range of polyester and nylon yarns. In addition to its flagship Repreve products, a family of eco-friendly yarns made from recycled materials, key Unifi brands include Sorbtek, Reflexx, AIO, Satura, Augusta, AMY, Mynx UV and Microvista. Unifi’s yarns are used by major brands in the apparel, hosiery, automotive, home furnishings and industrial sectors.

In the second quarter ended Dec. 28, Unifi reported net income of $9.4 million, a 47 percent increase from the year-ago quarter on net sales that rose 1.6 percent to $163.1 million. In the 2014 fiscal year, polyester yarn made up 56 percent of Unifi’s $688 million in sales.

Interviewed at the recent NCTO annual conference, Bill Jasper, president and ceo of Unifi Inc., said, “We are adding machines. We’ve probably added 8 to 10 percent to our capacity in the past year in the textured [category] and we plan to invest $100 million over three years in capital expenditures.”

Jasper said most of the new investment at Unifi will be dedicated to capacity increases in recycling plastic bottles and textile waste for its Repreve recycled fibers line. He also noted there has been a slight uptick in apparel sold in the U.S. that is made in America.

“We are seeing programs come back from Asia for several reasons,” Jasper said. “One is that costs are going up in China and Asia, and the Central American supply chain is becoming more cost competitive.”