Executives from 125 organisations attended this years Apparel Summit of the Americas in Honduras

Executives from 125 organisations attended this year's Apparel Summit of the Americas in Honduras

More than 250 executives from 125 organisations attended this year's Apparel Summit of the Americas in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, making it the largest event of the year for organiser the Americas Apparel Producers' Network (AAPN).

The event was opened by Jesus 'Chuy' Canahuati, president of Elcatex. Canahuati promoted Honduras as the #1 destination for US yarn exports globally totalling over $1bn annually and the #1 country of origin for US imports of cotton T-Shirts and sweatshirts.

New strategic textile investments in the country are focusing on synthetic knits, adding to the region's importance in this growing category of activewear. The anchor to this strategy is Utexa, a brand-new filament polyester yarn mill, representing an $80m investment in plant, equipment and training.

The agenda also included a highly supportive video talk by the Honorable Juan Orlando Hernández, president of Honduras.

Mike Todaro, managing director of the AAPN and Tony Anzovino, president of the AAPN and chief sourcing & merchandising officer of the Haggar Clothing Co, followed Canahuati with background on the AAPN and detailed charts of trade data.  

Keynote speaker Simon Mainwaring, founder of We First, a leading brand and leadership consultancy, spoke about 'purpose-based branding' which is exactly what the Honduras 2020 plan accomplished. This vision of investment, innovation and jobs – which was first presented by Jesus Canahuati at the 2016 AAPN Annual Conference – brands the region as one committed to the apparel industry.

Finishing the first day's agenda was a panel moderated  by Walter Wilhelm, CEO of WWA Advisors. His panelists of Steve Cochran, CEO, Tegra Global; Ricardo Pettenati, CEO, Pettenati Industrias Textil; and David Ha, CEO, TexOps shared their own stories of investment and innovation in the Americas.

Attendees also embarked on several tours of facilities. The first included Utexa's filament yarn production, Honduras Green Energy, and the Villas San Juan Housing Project. The second was of Finotex Honduras, and Coats (Finishing & Dyeing).

Visits also took in Genesis Apparel, the Elcatex Textile Mill, Stretchline, and the Honduran Spinning Mill of Karim's Group.

The AAPN Apparel Industry Leadership Award was presented by Todaro to Chuy Canahuati and also to Joe Cuervo who, prior to being recruited by Kohl's, worked in the Honduras 2020 project office in Tegucigalpa Honduras.

The agenda also included two core AAPN speakers. Ed Gribbin, CEO, Gribbin Strategic LLC and senior advisor to Alvanon spoke on how to leverage all the new innovations within the region. He was followed by a complimentary talk by Kurt Cavano, founder and president, GT Nexus (an Infor Company) on Disruptopia: An Overview of the Speed of Technology.

"These investments will radically change the economic activity of the North Coast. Having 250 representatives of the most important companies in the world drives more investment, creates jobs and improves the living conditions of our workers," said Mario Canahuati, president of the Honduran Association of Maquiladoras.

Juan Zighelboim, of TexOps in El Salvador and an investor in Utexa added: "This is not only important for the local Honduran industry, but for the Central American region. It is a movement that shows we are ready to fight with Asia."

Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, AAPN has over 200 member organisations from across the apparel supply chain in North/Central/South America, Mexico, the Caribbean, Asia and Europe.