Target may seek rival bedding supplier

Retailer has begun sampling sheets made by Trident

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Target is considering shifting some orders to Trident after it terminated $90 million of business with rival supplier Welspun India for labeling cheaper bedsheets as premium Egyptian cotton, according to people familiar with the discussions.

The U.S. retail giant has begun sampling sheets manufactured by Trident, according to the people, who asked not to be identified as the talks are confidential. Trident, based in the northern state of Punjab, supplies terry towels to Target and is one of the few Indian companies with the capacity to produce more bedsheets, they said.

“We have previously shared that we were actively working with existing vendors on our matrix to determine where we move the business. Trident is one of our current vendors,” said Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder. “It would be premature to speculate on how we will plan for, and distribute our business.”

A Trident representative declined to comment.

Target on Aug. 19 severed business ties with Welspun, India’s largest home textiles exporter after discovering that sheets and pillows labeled as premium Egyptian cotton were actually made with another type of cotton. The retailer pulled the items from its stores and offered customers refunds.

Other Welspun clients, including Wal-Mart Stores, Bed Bath & Beyond and J.C. Penney, said they are reviewing Welspun’s product claims and certification records.

Trident plans to make a big push into bed and bath linens and estimates they will comprise about 80 percent of its textiles revenue in two years, according to its most recent annual report. The company shares many of Welspun’s customers, including including Target, Wal-Mart, J.C. Penney and Macy’s, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“There is a good chance that Trident may step into Welspun’s shoes,” said Arun Kejriwal, a director at Kejriwal Research & Investment in Mumbai. “This is even more so as new capacity set up by Trident is yet to be fully utilized. They can ramp up quickly.”

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