Bulgarian textile exports dip 21%

Bulgarian textile exports dip 21%

Bulgarian textile and clothing exports fell almost 21% year-on-year in the first nine months of 2009, the head of the country's sector association said, cited by news agency BTA.

Speaking on the sidelines of an industry conference, Valeria Zhekova said Bulgarian textile producers export 93% of their output to Europe.

Despite the slump in sales abroad, which is close to the average for Bulgaria's manufacturing industry, Zhekova is optimistic the sector is capable of weathering the crisis. The main problem is that European retailers and wholesalers defer their decisions on orders, which causes a slowdown in textiles supply, yet the time when the finished products should be out in stores remains fixed, she said.

Small businesses acting as sub-contractors are most affected by the crisis as they do not get enough cash to build up reserves. That has made some owners halt production in November and December and send their employees home to stop losses from piling up.

According to data of the association, the textile sector shed 20% of its workforce in the first nine months of the year. As many as 145,000 worked in the textile and clothing industry in 2008.