Apparel maker Gildan Activewear is considering ramping up the production of performance products following its acquisition of Anvil Knitwear in May last year.

The company's president and CEO Glenn Chamandy told analysts that the Anvil facility in Honduras is currently producing basic knit products, and that it plans to convert the plant to produce performance and speciality products.

"Originally, we had thought we're going to move some of these products into our Rio Nance facility [also in Honduras]," Chamandy said.

"But with the reaction we've had with our new product line and performance, and the demand we have on our sales, we feel that we can dedicate a factory just specifically for these types of performance fabrics."

He added that the company plans to launch a considerable number of new products over the next year, with a focus on performance fabrics such as antimicrobial and stretch products.

"This will allow us really to expand the product because at Rio [Nance] we would have been still limited to more the commodity side. And now we can actually add quite a bit of product that will enhance, I think, overall sales opportunity in the category with all these different fabrications.

"And then, consequently, would also allow us to streamline Rio Nance I and keep it consistent with the rest of the type of Rio facilities we have, producing large runs and ring-spun underwear and activewear type products. So it becomes a win-win."

He said that shifting performance wear to the Anvil site will help improve efficiency at Rio 1 and Rio 2, where these performance apparel items were previously being made.

Gildan Activewear also said it has reduced prices in the printwear category after a competitor with a "relatively small share of the market initiated selling price reductions".

While chief financial and administrative officer Laurence Sellyn said the company did not match the competitor's price decrease, it took the opportunity to make some pricing adjustments to "position the Gildan brand for advantage".

He said the company believes that industry pricing is in line with future cotton prices.

"Assuming economic conditions remain stable we do not intend at this time to initiate further price decreases. However, we will defend our industry leadership if required. And therefore, our guidance provides for possible further increases and promotional activity," he said.

The comments came as Gildan Activewear returned to a first quarter profit of US$35.3m against a loss of $46.1m last year. Sales rose 38.5% to $420.8m - prompting the company to forecast full-year net sales revenues would slightly exceed its previous guidance of $2.1bn, thanks to better than expected printwear revenues.

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