Heimtextil, the huge trade fair that is all textiles for the all the people, opened for business this morning here, offering up any imaginable bed, bath, window and table product, even bedding featuring the likeness of pseudo-celebrity Paris Hilton. The majority of products on display from the 2,500 exhibitors—off slightly from last year—were of a decidedly more practical nature, a fact showgoers appreciated.
Not quite a majority of those products were on stands belonging to countries from the Asian continent, reflecting the ongoing migration of the textiles industry from the West to the East. For the first time ever, German-based companies were not the largest national contingent, overtaken by India with 385 exhibitors. China was only one company behind Germany with 380 booths although if you included Hong Kong companies the number went well past the 400 mark.
American exhibitors and attendees were few and far between on opening morning, although retailers spotted walking the aisles included Target, Macy’s and Ross Stores, with exhibitors saying they were expecting J.C. Penney, Bed Bath and Beyond and Kohl’s. U.S. retailers were at the disadvantage of currency exchange rates that make buying European products an expensive proposition and many were expected to be working with their Asian suppliers for the most part. U.S. manufacturers who could be taking advantage of those exchange rates and offering competitively priced goods to Common Market nations unfortunately chose not to and there were only 33 exhibitors from the U.S., down about 10 percent from last year.
No matter where they came from, showgoers were continuing to grapple with a still sluggish economy that is rebounding about as fast as an ancient shuttle loom wove fabric. But some attendees said they welcomed the new year and the chance to start anew.