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Home Furnishing International pursues global growth

Manufacturer targets outdoor fabrics, unveils massive expansion in facilities

Home Furnishing plantPart of Home Furnishing International's growth plan includes a substantial investment in new machinery and equipment at its Rugao, China facility.
NEW YORK - Advancing an aggressive global growth strategy based on its strengths as a vertical manufacturer, Home Furnishing International has revealed its massive expansion and substantial investment in new machinery and equipment at its primary facility in Rugao, China.
"We are firmly committed to being a vertical manufacturer and continue to expand and invest in our mills, our machinery, our product line and our people," said David Li, CEO and president of the privately held firm, which has annual sales estimated in excess of $200 million. "At a time when many of our competitors are cutting back on research and development, we are adding new technologies and capacity to continue our evolution as a leader in the global market."
Home Furnishing International is investing more than $20 million in the Rugao facility, and over the past year, doubled the size of the Rugao plant to 1 million square feet. The company also added a complete printing and finishing operation to make the facility one of the largest vertical printing houses in the world, under the direction of Shen Jian, president of Shanghai Orient West Decorative Fabrics, the Chinese division of Home Furnishing International.
"The Rugao plant currently has a 12-color printing and piece-dyeing capacity of one million meters of wide width fabrics per week and is running at full capacity with 12 dyeing and two high-speed printing ranges," Li said. "These printing ranges run at 80 meters per minute. Four additional printing ranges will be installed by the end of 2013, bringing the total annual capacity to 200 million meters of wide width fabrics."
In addition to the new printing facilities, Home Furnishing International has invested in modern machinery for yarn-dyeing, weaving, piece-dyeing, specialty printing and a full range of finishing operations, including scouring, sanforizing, bleaching, sanding, brushing, calendering, washing, tumbling, steaming and specialty treatments and finishes. The facility also acquired customized equipment to produce and process faux leather.
"Our large capacity and diversified manufacturing capabilities can ensure that we satisfy our clients' needs for innovation, quality control, speedy delivery and better costs," Li said. "As a large vertical mill, we can perform better than those competitors who have to outsource with unreliable vendors. For example, right now nearly all of the Top 10 bedding manufacturers in China are printing at the Rugao plant, and our initial production runs that were introduced at our first market in China have completely sold out.
"Based on the overwhelming positive reaction to our initial printed fabrics, we are launching a collection of our first printed bedroom ensembles for the United States market," Li adds. "We are using our new facilities and equipment to offer a range of truly unique and innovative printed beds."

Home Furnishing pillowsHome Furnishing International will release its own line of decorative pillows and outdoor cushions.
Outdoor fabrics, pillows generate excitement
Home Furnishing International is targeting the outdoor furniture and accessories market as a substantial growth opportunity, offering innovative fabrics and exclusive designs in outdoor fabrics as well as finished decorative pillows and chair cushions for outdoor furniture.
"We as a vertical mill can develop and protect our proprietary technologies," Li said. "For example, we have developed pioneering technologies to weave and print outdoor fabrics at the Rugao plant; we expect this will substantially change the business landscape on the supply side. Previously, it was necessary for outdoor product manufacturers and importers to go to Taiwan or other countries for outdoor fabrics, and then bring them to China to complete the finished products. Now, our Rugao plant can do everything for them right in China, with comparable, and in many cases, superior products. This gives us a large competitive advantage, because we can save our clients cost, delivery time and reduce their inventory risks."
The company also is offering its own line of decorative pillows and outdoor cushions under the Veranda name, and will launch a huge new collection at the New York Home Fashions Market next week.
"I think that our new capabilities in printing will create excitement because we can produce our own print designs and give exclusive designs to our customers," said Neil Zuber, executive VP of HFI. "The retailers have commented several times about their concerns over all of the different classes of trade having the same outdoor designs, and how this leads to price sensitivity with so many retailers having nearly identical looks. We previewed our new outdoor line with two accounts last week who were the first retailers to see the new line. Both accounts purchased pillows."
HFI's embroidered styles have received an extremely good response, Zuber added. "We have enjoyed excellent success in the embroidered decorative pillow portion of our outdoor line," he said. "We are the only resource with the capability of manufacturing outdoor embroidered pillows, and we have a huge selection of embroidered designs. We also have been successful with our solid outdoor fabric and with our new prints."
Highlights of the new Veranda line in decorative pillows, chair cushions and loveseat cushions include a woven stripe in seven color combinations and a coordinating solid in 20 vibrant colors, accented with coconut buttons. New embroidered styles include an ikat paisley in three colors, an all over palm tree, iron work and lattice designs and embroidered coastal patterns. New prints include five floral patterns, an ikat kilim, a seashore design and an all over sunflower.
"HFI has been a pioneer in the design and development of embroidered and jacquard decorative pillows and cushions," Zuber said. "We have a very large collection of embroidered outdoor pillows. Our Coastal and Tropical collections include more than 30 embroidered designs. Many are engineered center motif designs, including Starfish, Seahorse, Coral, Sailboats, Anchors, Palm Trees, Frogs, Sea Turtles, Light Houses, Jelly Fish, Lobsters, Crabs and many more. Several are all over designs with coordinating engineered center motifs. We have a collection of floral outdoor embroideries and butterflies, all in vivid outdoor colorations. We have an Americana Collection, and also have developed several jacquard outdoor fabrics that have been made into a collection of pillows. These include coastal and traditional designs. And we have an extensive collection of prints, including traditional and tropical florals, as well as woven and printed stripes."

Palmetto Printworks brand to debut at N.Y. Home Fashions Market
HFI has developed a new brand, Palmetto Printworks, as the umbrella for its printed bedroom ensemble collection, according to Tom Healy, president and COO of the company's Home Fashions International division, which designs and markets finished products in the United States. The new brand will be unveiled at next week's New York Home Fashions Market, Sept. 10-13.
"With the installation of state-of-the-art printing and finishing capabilities at our new printing facility in Rugao, Home Fashions International introduces Palmetto Printworks as the brand for our new print collection, reflecting on the ambience of our South Carolina home," Healy said. "Palmetto Printworks will showcase 19 brand new ensembles, each with its own point of view, ranging from vibrant bright colors to sleek modern looks. And, each ensemble is truly reversible, offering the customer two complete decorating options with each coordinating bedding statement."

HFI strategically positions for international growth
The increases in manufacturing capacity and product line are designed to support HFI's ambitious plans for growth in the international market.
"In spite of the current challenging economic climate, we believe there are many untapped markets for our products," Li said. "We have been developing infrastructure and management capabilities in numerous countries in order to support our international trade."
Li pointed out HFI's international expansion has resulted in more than $50 million in non-U.S. and non-China business this year. Sales to Brazil, for instance, have been increasing at a rate of 20% or more for the past four consecutive years, under the direction of president Rodrigo Prieto. Business in Argentina has doubled in one year, under the direction of general manager Osvaldo Schenquerman. The first container of merchandise has just been shipped to Chile, under the direction of general manager Alberto Piffardi.
"Our Mexican division has been operating for more than seven years, and resumed growth this year," Li said. "We hope to launch our first line in Colombia next year, which will round out our South American strategy."
Elsewhere, the company formed a strategic partnership with Goodrich Global in Singapore to service Southeast Asia, and five programs consisting of more than 250 SKUs are being shipped this year. HFI and its associated companies expect to ship 10 million meters of fabric to Turkey this year. The company also is servicing clients in the Middle East with a warehouse in Lebanon, and earlier this year formed a strategic partnership in South Africa.
"We feel we are well-positioned for growth in major markets throughout the world," Li said. "For example, our 275,000-sq.-ft. distribution center in Gaffney, S.C. is now a duty-free zone, allowing us to better service our customers throughout North and South America. We have been experiencing a very good reaction in global markets to our combination of fashionable products, commitment to customer service and competitive prices."

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