American & Efrid (A&E) is the foremost manufacturer and distributor of premium quality industrial and consumer sewing thread, embroidery thread, and technical textiles. Producers of apparel, automotive components, home furnishings, medical supplies, footwear, and a diverse range of industrial products rely on A&E industrial sewing thread to manufacture their products. Through its global network, A&E thread products are manufactured in 22 countries, distributed in 50 countries, and sold in over 100 countries. A&E is a recognized industry leader in environmental sustainability and corporate social responsibility and operates its global facilities with the utmost regard for the safety and health of its associates employed worldwide.
Chris Alt, President of A&E, is entrusted with the responsibility for A&E’s total business, overseeing 23 production sites across its global network. Areas of this responsibility include global market strategy, revenue, profit and loss, growth, environmental sustainability, corporate social responsibility, and quality business culture. Chris started his journey with A&E in 1995 and has over 32 years of industry experience in global sales, operations, and supply chain. He is also very familiar with significant sourcing hubs globally.
Recently Team Textile Focus had a conversation with Chris, and key discussion points are mentioned below for our readers ―
Observation on the current scenario of the global apparel industry:
Right now, we are seeing a slowdown. The brands and retailers we have heard from, especially in the United States, have inventory levels that are incredibly high. Part of this is because of unexpected demand in certain categories during the COVID-19, there was such a backlog with the container shortages and the supply chain backup at the ports. The industry overcorrected when goods were hard to get into the country. Europe has similar headwinds as well as the effects of the conflict. Now we have excess inventory at retail, and we are seeing a slowing of orders. We are optimistic to see positive change in the second half of 2023. Still, we will need some help from the economy, a resolution to the Russia and Ukraine conflict, and the continued lessening effects of the Covid pandemic.
Supporting the apparel industry and sustainability concept:
We are the second-largest producer of premium sewing thread in the world today. We support the industry by ensuring we are present in all the cut and sew geographies so no matter where a brand is sourcing their goods, they have access to our product. As you think about the steps involved with apparel, our teams support our customers from design and development all the way to the factory floor. And our footprint today allows us to do just that.
Our company has always had a strong focus on sustainability. And along those lines, we have a full line of recycled thread products. We call it our ECO100 line. And we are getting more and more demand in the market. We were the first thread company to sign on to science-based targets (SBTi), we are committed to “Business Ambition for 1.5°C”, and our targets are set in line with the 1.5°C Paris Agreement Goal.
Observation of Bangladesh market and plan:
Bangladesh is a significant market for A&E. The country continues to attract more apparel sourcing and we are high on the prospect of future growth. During the “Made in Bangladesh” industry event this week, we were told the country goal is to increase global apparel exports from 6% to 10% by 2030. The support for this growth comes not only from the industry, but it sounds like the government is supportive as well. It is very exciting for our company, so much so that we are increasing our investment here. Currently, A&E has a facility in Gazipur. We are expanding our manufacturing footprint into Chittagong, which will double the capacity in the country and allow us to service the apparel and non-apparel sectors with focus and speed.
The product line which is adding value to the apparel industry:
Our product line is truly diverse and covers a wide variety of markets. On the apparel side we offer thread to produce everything from lightweight products such as lingerie and underwear to the heavy counts that go into jeans and work wear. And then, on the non-apparel side, we cover the spectrum of end markets from automotive safety products to upholstery. From a product innovation standpoint, one of the things that we’ve been working on here recently is a laser-resistant sewing thread to avoid burns and melting during denim laser finishing. One of the biggest values we provide with our sewing thread is our technical service. We support the industry with specialized technical services. And when I talk about specialized service, I am referring to productivity and performance in the sewing factory to allow companies to get the most out of their equipment and then, from a quality standpoint, performance in the seam to ensure that the product or garment will perform for the end user for a long quality life of the garment.
Consideration of Bangladesh comparing other countries:
The current situation is challenging. While we acknowledge our shared difficulties, we are each witness to the resiliency of our industry. I have been doing this since 1995 and have been traveling internationally since early 2000. And when I think of Bangladesh and how it sets itself apart from other areas, my feeling is that no matter what is happening from a macroeconomic standpoint, or the problems of the past, the passion in this country, the power of the people, and the love for the business are like no other. And I think there is a high level of commitment by the factories, the government, and the industry to succeed. You cannot say that for every country in the world. This is what makes us excited about being here and participating in this market.