Housefurnishings, Except Curtains and Draperies

SIC 2392

Companies in this industry

Industry report:

This category covers establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing house furnishings from purchased materials, such as blankets, bedspreads, sheets, tablecloths, towels, and shower curtains. Those establishments producing house furnishings primarily of fabric woven at the same establishment are classified according to fiber in SIC 2211: Broadwoven Fabric Mills, Cotton; SIC 2221: Broadwoven Fabric Mills, Manmade Fiber and Silk; SIC 2231: Broadwoven Fabric Mills, Wool (Including Dyeing and Finishing); and SIC 2299: Textile Goods, Not Elsewhere Classified.

Industry Snapshot

For many years, house furnishings, such as sheets, towels, and blankets, functioned as basic household necessities. In the growing economy after World War II, however, these products were manufactured with new technology in an expanding palette of colors, prints, and styles, thus becoming more of an expression of personal taste. In the early 2010s, it was easy and affordable for consumers to redecorate their rooms with coordinated bedroom and bath products offered by companies in this industry. Industry shipments in each industry segment declined due to increased competition from imports and a sagging U.S. economy in the late 2000s. However, as consumers began to slowly return to the marketplace in the early 2010s, they looked to update their personal space rather than replace it with a new home. According to industry reports, this industry generated revenues of $1.29 billion in 2009. Manufacturers reacted to global competition and a flat housing market by becoming creative capture their share of the textile market, even if it meant using the elevated cost of gas and oil as their selling point.

Organization and Structure

In 2009, more than 1,500 companies employed nearly 22,750 employees in this industry. The manufacture of sheets and towels was dominated by a few large corporations. Companies in the industry produce tablecloths, pillows, boat cushions, laundry bags, shower curtains, slipcovers, and mattress pads. These were produced by a variety of small manufacturers, which created a very fragmented market sector.

Home furnishings accounted for 26 percent of the industry. Cushions and pillows made up 13.6 percent of firms, followed by comforters and quilts (10.3 percent); blankets, comforters, and bedding (6.8 percent), and bed pillows (6.3 percent). Shipments of home furnishings and other textile products grew much faster than other sectors.

Background and Development

The strength and growth of the house furnishing market during the 1980s was the result of several factors. The home textile market was less penetrated by imports than other sectors of the textile industry. In addition, home textiles used more automation in manufacturing than other textile industries, with specialized machinery taking the place of the paid production workers. A large portion of the profits in this category was used to upgrade buildings and machinery. New capital expenditures, which were reported at $27 million in 1977, had escalated to $81 million by 1995 as companies implemented new manufacturing technologies. Companies continued to invest in new technologies over the next several years, and in 1997, capital expenditures reached $115 million.

The top three companies with primary products in this category employed more than 1,000 workers each, while about 70 percent of the remaining companies employed fewer than 100 workers. The value of shipments of all products in these establishments, including but not limited to the primary products of the industry, grew from $2.3 billion in 1977 to more than $7 billion in 2000. However, the value of shipments declined to $6.5 billion in 2001. The value of shipments in 2001 were shower curtains, comforters, quilts, pillows, blankets, mattress protectors, table linens, and slip covers at $3.9 billion; sheets and pillowcases at more than $1.3 billion; towels and washcloths at $801.3 million; and bedspreads and bedsets at $263.7 million. Although the value of product shipments in each sector declined between 2000 and 2001, continued growth in new home construction helped offset the impact of a weakening U.S. economy throughout the early 2000s.

Of the industry's top 15 manufacturers, the majority reported decreases in 2003 sales from 2002 sales. In fact, after sales declined 9.1 percent and losses mounted to $133 million in 2003, WestPoint Stevens filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and began shifting its focus from towels to bedding. Dan River Inc., which had posted a $13 million loss in sales in 2002, filed bankruptcy in 2004. The most dramatic example of the industry's decline, however, was Pillowtex, which had led the industry in 1997 with sales of more than $1 billion, but was unable to stay afloat in the early 2000s. By the end of 2003, the firm had liquidated operations and begun the process of auctioning off brand names such as Fieldcrest Cannon.

Between 2002 and 2005, manufacturers of bedspreads made from purchased materials remained steady with a value of $190.3 million in 2002, climbing slightly to $192.3 million in 2005. In contrast, shipments of sheets and pillowcases made from purchased materials fell from a high of $1.36 billion in 2002 to $894.6 million in 2005. Shipments of towels and washcloths declined as well, falling from $587 million in 2002 to $365 million in 2005.

Competitive pressures forced one industry leader, Springs Global U.S., Inc., (formerly Springs Industries Inc.) to announce plans to close facilities in Chester, North Carolina, and relocate 760 jobs to South America by 2007.

In 2008, the miscellaneous household furnishings, not elsewhere classified, segment accounted for 24.8 percent of market share with a value of $846.7 million. Other significant categories based on sales were the manufacturing of cushions and pillows with sales of $407.5 million; bedspreads and bed sets, made from purchased materials, with $234.4 million; blankets, comforters, and beddings, with $182.2 million; bed pillows, made from purchased materials, with $167.7 million; tablecloths, made from purchased materials, with $104.2 million; mattress protectors, except rubber, with $91.2 million; mattress pads with $77.4 million; and floor and dust mops with $71 million.

Current Conditions

The economic recession with began in 2008 caused consolidation within much of the home furnishings and textile industry as smaller players, less able to withstand the downturn in the economy, were either bullied out of the way or swallowed up by bigger players. However, the home linens segment had undergone a similar upheaval at the beginning of the 1990s, when then-industry leaders WestPoint Stevens, Pillowtex, and Springs controlled nearly half the home textile market and almost 75 percent of all sheets and towel sales. However, the big three, which brought in combined revenues of nearly $5 billion at one time, fell apart, either filing for bankruptcy and restructuring or folding altogether (in the case of Pillowtex). In the early 2010s, what remained of the mighty three was less than one-third of the original sheets and towels empire.

The trend has been toward outsourcing overseas, especially China. However, as the 2010s began, some industry insiders predicted that the need for quick turnaround will dictate a shorter chain between supply and demand. Although not suggesting that production will return to U.S. operations, some insiders pointed to increased business with Mexico and South and Central American distributors who could bring the products to the shelves more rapidly than their Asian counterparts. "Nobody is predicting China and Asia will go away as sourcing bastions," noted a reporter for HFN in January 2010, "but many think the sources will just be more spread out in this new decade."

High cotton prices in 2010 could affect prices in certain segments that rely on cotton for production. Poor weather conditions in China damaged cotton crops, and the United States placed a ban on raw cotton exports from India, the world's second largest cotton producer. At the same time that cotton supplies were shrinking, demand for cotton was increasing. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, stocks-to-use ratios in 2010 were at their lowest point in 16 years. World consumption of cotton in 2010-2011 was expected to exceed production for the fifth straight year. In all, demand was outpacing supply, thus driving prices upward. In combination with a global recession, prices would likely translate into higher mark ups at the retail level.

Industry Leaders

WestPoint Home was an industry leader in sheets and pillowcases in the early 2010s. WestPoint Home, originally WestPoint Stevens, changed its name after reorganizing and emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in August 2005. The company closed its underperforming stores and switched its focus from towels and bed pillows to bedding. In 2010, WestPoint Home was part of the holding company Icahn Enterprises LLC, which had a broad range of diversified investments.

Springs Industries of Fort Mill, South Carolina, merged its home textiles operations with Brazil's fabric maker, Coteminas, in January 2006. The new company was named Springs Global U.S. Inc. and was a subsidiary of Springs Global Participacoes S.A., the largest home furnishings manufacturer in the world. Croscill Home LLC, headquartered in New York, was another industry leader. Croscill Home manufactured linens for major retails such as JC Penney and Bed Bath and Beyond.

Workforce

There were 66,540 workers in textile furnishing mills in 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of these, 42,110 (63.3 percent) were production workers. Production workers earned an average of $12.90 per hour and worked an average of 40 hours per week. Employment in this industry was expected to decline as competition from less expensive imports continued to increase and as technological advancements increased productivity, thereby lessening the need for workers.

America and the World

While imports had not been a major factor in the home furnishings market, their value grew from about $1.2 billion to more than $3.6 billion at the turn of the twenty-first century. The World Trade Organization Agreement on Textiles and Clothing, which phased out quotas by 2005, was expected to cost the United States $4 billion in lost textile sales, according to the American Textile Manufacturers Institute. Imports from China, which imported $9.8 billion of apparel and fabricated textile products in 2002, were expected to have the greatest impact on the U.S. market. For example, in 2000, imports of cotton sheets were valued at $311.4 million. By 2005, the value of imported cotton sheets had jumped to $1.06 billion. Imports of sheets reached a high of $1.5 billion in 2007 before declining to $1.43 billion and $1.21 billion in 2008 and 2009, respectively, due to the economic recession.

Exports grew at a much slower rate than imports, increasing from $448 million in 1992 to roughly $500 million by 2000. Canada and Mexico were the fastest growing markets for U.S. exports in the early 2000s. Exports of bedroom furnishings totaled $351.1 million in 2007 but declined to $277.2 million in 2009 due to the economic recession.

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