Decreased Demand Causes Layoffs at Victor Fortsmann Mill
Victor Forstmann, Inc., a textile mill in Dublin, Ga., announced May 19, 2005, a major layoff of employees, effective July 19, to adjust to a decrease in demand for its products.
The announcement was made by Richard Duval, president of Victor Woolen Products, Ltd., ?While we regret having to make this move, we have determined that it?s the only way for us to remain competitive in the American market.?
Duval pointed to the increased availability of textiles from China and other Asian nations as a major factor in the decrease in market demand for Forstmann fabrics. The World Trade Organization abolished quotas on textiles from developing countries in January 2005.
The Forstmann mill, which was opened in 1947, will lay off 159 employees. They will close their women?s wear and coating divisions and concentrate on uniforms and some cap fabric.
During the annual meeting of Chargeurs? shareholders, a change in their European operations was decided.
?In a wool market affected by over-capacity, by the steady fall in the dollar over the last two years and by the increase in Chinese production, Chargeurs has decided to discontinue industrial wool combing operations in Europe.?
Rita Kourlis Samuelson observes, ?This is indicative of the many changes in the wool industry, which are most currently affecting Western Europe. Movement from traditional wool-production locations to lower-cost production countries continues to grow into China, India and Eastern Europe. Additionally, business seems to be slow in Western Europe.?
Also, Chargeurs announced changes to their wool-combing operations at their Wagga Wagga, New South Wales plant.
Chargeurs explained, ?In the face of increasingly intense, international competition, profit margins have eroded to the point where it has become necessary to discontinue production in the medium-to-course micron range and to focus the plant?s activity on the combing of fine and superfine wool only.?
Thirty jobs will be lost due to this change and the group expects, at best, to break-even by the end of the year.
New Organic Wool Brand, O-Wool?
A new brand of organic wool was introduced by Vermont Organic Fiber Company (VTOF) at the International Conference on Organic Textiles in Chicago, Ill., April 30 to May 3.
O-Wool? products are made using wool that has been certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic-certification agencies. Apparel and fabric companies using VTOF?s organic wool can use this symbol for marketing and promoting organic-wool products to their wholesale distributors and retail customers.
O-Wool? is one of the newest additions to a fast-growing $85 million (2003) organic-fiber industry. For wool to be certified as organic, the USDA requires that the sheep be fed organic feed and forage from the last third of gestation and raised without the use of synthetic hormones, synthetic pesticides or overgrazing of the land. O-Wool? can be found in sweaters, socks, gloves, blankets, hats and designer apparel.
NTA Opposes CAFTA
The National Textile Association (NTA) responded with disappointment to the announcement on May 9, 2005, that the National Council of Textile Organizations had agreed to support the U.S.-Central American-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).
NTA has consistently opposed CAFTA and stated four things that needed to be included for NTA support: no tariff preference levels; no cumulation with non-partner countries; a rule of origin with no derogations; and a short supply list and short supply procedure, at least as favorable to American textile makers as those in existing arrangements.
NTA stated, ?This flawed agreement, if passed, will bring yet more job losses to the American textile industry.?
Wool Broker Pleads Guilty to Fraud Charges
In a report from ABC Australia, a former wool broker from central-western New South Wales has pleaded guilty to charges of obtaining benefit by deception, in an attempt to defraud the Australian wool-auction system. David Andrew Fry said he fraudulently obtained $122,205.71 from five wool-processing companies.
Between February and October of last year, police had received complaints that wool of inferior quality to what was reported was being supplied to wool processors.
The Australian Wool Exchange said there were no immediate plans for changes to security measures.