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India Looks Poised to Take Dramatic Home Textiles Market Share

Ever since quotas on mainstream home textiles products like sheets, bedding and towels from Asia were lifted in the early 2000s, three countries have battled it out for marketplace superiority.

China, India and Pakistan became the go-to resources for American retailers, wholesalers and other importers looking for the large programs that are at the core of the U.S. business.

Now, with China de-emphasizing its textiles production in favor of more hi-tech, high-value products, and Pakistan continuing to suffer from the political ill winds, India is poised to make a dramatic run for market share with major increases in capital expenditures in its manufacturing base.

The big Indian sheet and towel suppliers, including Welspun, Trident and others, are all in the midst of significant expansions of their production capabilities, adding hundreds of looms and substantial additions to their spinning, finishing and distribution facilities.

China’s diminished interest in relatively low-tech industries like textiles is driving some of the Indian investment upsurge. In 2016, the last year for which numbers are available, exports of Chinese textiles, including apparel and home, fell nearly 13 percent compared to two years prior.

This comes as labor costs in China continue to rise, particularly when compared to other Asian options, making manufacturing in the country an ever more costly proposition.

Indian suppliers, which already have a leading market share in products like cotton towels bound for the U.S., are seizing the moment.

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Welspun, the largest Indian home textiles supplier, instituted a major fiber verification system in its two big plants in India last year and has also brought on a new warehouse/distribution center earlier this year. An ongoing expansion plan announced earlier this year will increase towel capacity by 11 percent. Capital expenditures will total just more than $100 million U.S. this year the company said.

Trident, which is number two in the American market among Indian exporters, is investing heavily to close the gap. Over the past two years the company, which had primarily been a supplier of towels, entered the sheeting market, opening a massive facility with 500 wide-width looms. It has since added additional towel production, too. And like Welspun, it is ramping up its distribution systems to allow for more direct-to-consumer shipments driven by online sales.

Indo Count, a third major supplier, is also looking at distribution as an area of investment but it too undertook a significant expansion of its manufacturing base, increasing capacity by nearly a third at its main facility. This will be followed by additional expenditures of its weaving and spinning capacities this year, the company said.

All of this expansion–aimed clearly at American exports–comes as the U.S. market for home textiles remains essentially flat, meaning that the Indian companies expect to get a larger share of the existing market.

When asked at a trade show last year how his company expected to fill the capacity of its new facilities, the CEO of one major Indian supplier who asked not to be identified, said, “We’re going to get market share from China.”