Blog: Leonie BarrieVietnam leads surge in US apparel imports

Leonie Barrie | 12 May 2014

China and Vietnam led a surge in US apparel imports in March as retailers emerged from the annual post-holiday slowdown and started stocking up for the spring and summer seasons. 

Vietnam led the field with a massive 20.9% jump in shipments, helped by both producers and buyers diversifying their supply chains by moving some manufacturing from China.

It is also being buoyed by the expected benefits of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade treaty with countries including Canada and the US, which is continuing to drive clothing and textile investment into the country.

For Gildan Activewear, ongoing plans for investment in additional manufacturing capacity have seen the apparel maker confirm that Costa Rica will be the site of its next large-scale textile facility in Central America. The move was announced as the Canadian company booked an 8.9% rise in second-quarter net profit to US$79.2m, as net sales climbed 4.9% to $548.8m.

And far from marking the start of a Guangdong Spring uprising, the recent strike by workers at a Chinese plant operated by Taiwanese footwear manufacturer Yue Yuen was as much to do with the status of migrant workers as the firm's sharp practice.

Clothing brands and retailers have ramped up their focus on supplier factory safety over the past 18 months. As well as the challenges of implementing new requirements in Bangladesh, this month's management briefing looks at similar issues across Asia. We also report on how auditing software can help boost supply chain safety, and the fragmentation of global standards. Click on the following link to read more: Factory safety and auditing: The key challenges

For apparel retailers in the US, warmer weather combined with a late Easter, aggressive promotions, and improving employment prospects helped unleash pent-up demand in April - driving strong comparable store sales growth

While the sudden departure of Target Corporation's CEO Gregg Steinhafel may mark the start of a new period of upheaval for the discount giant, with analysts suspecting the move is symptomatic of much deeper troubles at the firm.

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