From The Editor: Looking Forward: Textiles 2011

By Jim Borneman, Editor In Chief

As 2010 comes to a close and eyes focus on 2011, one questions whether business can shrug off the uncertainty of the recent past and build some confidence in the forecast for 2011. There are real challenges in discerning opportunities from threats to business in 2011. The soft dollar? Crazy cotton prices? The ups and downs of consumer confidence? Tax policy with full asset depreciation? Increased thriftiness of U.S. consumers?

On the bright side, the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis continues to report good news regarding private direct investment in plant and equipment. Innovation abounds, whether it be advances in nanofiber technology, surface modification of textiles or enhanced moisture management in fabrics. Ever-strengthening sustainability initiatives are changing the way textiles are made. And there is a sense among many that with the carnage of 2008 and 2009 behind them, 2010 was a better year, and 2011 could be the beginning of a new cycle.

What do Textile World readers think? In response to the 2010 TW Digital Focus Group, 77.9 percent of respondents see business improving at their facilities, while 16.2 percent see no noticeable change and 5.9 percent see business slowing. In
addition, 39.5 percent are considering new equipment purchases in the upcoming year, a 9.1-percent increase compared to last year.

Weighing in on his company’s plans for 2011, Unifi Inc. President and CEO William L. Jasper comments in this issue’s Executive Forum: “We typically spend $8 million to $10 million a year to maintain our plants. We expect to spend around $20 million in fiscal 2011.”

As Yarn Market Editor Jim Phillips reports in his column, business has been strong. As one of Phillips’ contacts states,  “I think I would have to go back to the mid-1990s, maybe even
further, to find a time when business conditions were this good.” – a strong statement of the current upswing experienced by U.S. spinners – one that has expanded from ring-spun to include open-end yarns.

It is not fair, however, to ignore the challenges the industry continues to face: coping with Chinese currency and import challenges, the scarcity and rising price of cotton – which is squeezing margins – and sluggishness of new orders based on fear of building inventory.

Even with these challenges, however, there are many positives for U.S. textiles and global growth. Well-known German industrialist Johann-Philipp Dilo, owner and chairman of the DiloGroup, faces a global market for his company’s nonwoven technology. In this issue, he comments, “For DiloGroup, for some six months, a quick increase of incoming orders has been recorded, with the consequence that the turnover will increase considerably this year.” He goes on to comment on the origins of investment, saying:  “By all means, Asia, with strong emphasis on China. Nevertheless, the recovery is taking place worldwide.

This also applies to nonwovens in the United States. The main market in South America – Brazil – was less influenced by the financial crisis.”

Things just might be looking up!

November/December 2010