A Woolens Manufacturer Takes To The Web

Francois Morel is the prototypical New Economy European fashion executive. The CEO of Castres-based Carreman, France's second-largest woolens manufacturer, has embraced the Web as a way to boost his company's fortunes. But, knowing that he can't thrive unless the entire European textile industry changes the way it operates, Morel signed up as an early client of Etexx. The year-old startup, based in Nice, has created an e-marketplace where buyers and sellers of fabrics get news, exchange product info, and, starting this month, will buy and sell goods.

Indeed, Carreman is the guinea pig for this grand experiment. The company posted its top 40-odd fabrics on the Etexx site for online sample ordering--cutting the time it takes to get samples into customers' hands from many weeks to one day. Morel has no illusions that this overhaul will be easy or quick. "Textile industry people are truly stuck in the age of Emile Zola," the 19th century French novelist, he quips. Yet he's optimistic: The majority of Carreman's clients are avid Internet users, so it's just a matter of time before they, too, join the grand experiment.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.