KNITTED FABRICS manufacturer Fountain Set (Holdings) is looking to substantially expand its production facilities to meet global demand. Executive director Gordon Yen said Fountain Set would adopt a multi-pronged strategy to maintain its lead position in the industry. 'We aim to raise our production capacity to 13.6 million kg of knitted fabrics a month within three to five years,' he said. In the longer term, the company plans to increase capacity to 22.7 million kg a month, compared with 10.8 million kg to 11.3 million kg at present. The expansion will come mainly from the company's new factory in Jiangyin, in Jiangsu province. The first phase of expansion began last year, and the second phase of the Jiangyin plant is under development. The group's major production facilities are located in Dongguan in Guangdong province, with other plants based in Sri Lanka and Indonesia. To fuel business growth, Fountain Set has been making significant efforts in marketing to overseas customers and developing new products. The group's marketing efforts won it the Export Marketing Grand Award at the Hong Kong Awards for Industry this year. The Export Marketing Awards, organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, recognise efforts in business marketing while raising awareness among Hong Kong manufacturers and traders about the importance of overseas marketing. Twenty-four companies entered the competition this year. The award came as Fountain Set celebrated its 35th anniversary. Mr Yen said the group had been exploring overseas markets in recent years and setting up representative offices in different cities to promote its products. 'We also participate regularly in a number of international textile fairs and exhibitions,' Mr Yen said. Marketing director Lara Wong said that the group's marketing team would go directly to end customers, including international brands in the United States and Europe, to promote its products. 'Our overseas offices will have direct contact with local end buyers in their respective markets and present our new collections to them,' she said. International fairs and exhibitions have also given the company an opportunity to learn about the latest market trends and broaden its spectrum of customers, Ms Wong said. She said the company had a strong research and development division focused on coming up with new fabrics, such as environmentally friendly products and functional materials, to meet market demand. The company also placed emphasis on staff training, and was in touch with mainland universities to stay abreast of developments in new fabrics, she said. More than 80 per cent of Fountain Set's products are exported to the United States and Europe, and the rest goes to Japan and other Asian countries. As the global system of textile quotas is due to expire on January 1 next year, there are concerns that the US may impose protectionist measures to limit the growth of unwanted imports. Mr Yen said the market was adopting a wait-and-see approach to the US responses. However, he said it was certain that the lifting of worldwide textile quotas would fuel the growth of trade in the long term, although the rate of increase was not certain at present. The crucial question was what parts of the world would benefit from the removal of quotas next year when a shift in order patterns was expected. Mr Yen said it was difficult to estimate the extent of order shifting at this stage, but he expected any shift to be a gradual process. He said Fountain Set was interested in expanding its sales presence in Asia, especially in China where there was great growth potential.