After the recession hit, the textile industry collapsed.
The industry lost nearly half of its Canadian workforce.
At the same time, new opportunities were opening up.
“It was like, hey, you know what, we should really start to diversify our economy,” said Darby Smith, who has spent more than a decade in the industry.
“And so that’s what we did.”
Textile imports jumped nearly 60 per cent between 2006 and 2015.
The Canadian textile industry, which includes everything from footwear and textiles to footwear and accessories, was a hot spot for exports in 2015.
But in the last two years, exports have dropped.
As a result, Smith says his company is struggling to compete with other producers in the textile sector.
“We are losing out to all the other producers because they’re all really competing with us,” Smith said.
Smith is now focusing on developing a new line of textiles for the fashion industry.
In addition to clothing, Smith’s company is working on a line of footwear and clothing.
In a statement, the Canadian Tire Centre said that its textile supply chain is “well established and robust.”
It added that Canadian Tire’s textile business is one of the largest in the world.
“As an industry, we are focused on making a competitive and sustainable contribution to our customers’ business goals and objectives,” it said.
“This is an area of focus where we will continue to invest and invest in our supply chain to ensure we deliver on our business plan.”
The Canadian Tire Center also said that the company is actively seeking out new suppliers and “creating value” in its supply chain.
Smith said that even though his company has been successful in diversifying the supply chain, he is still frustrated with the sluggish pace of exports.
“I’m a big believer in diversification and I do think we need to diversification, but I just can’t see that happening as a result of this recession,” Smith told CBC News.
“The industry just has been a great example of how when you have these economic times, you need diversification to continue to grow and grow.”
Smith says he believes his company’s export numbers will improve in the future.
But he said he’s worried that there won’t be enough room in the market to increase its volume.
“Right now I’m looking at it as, ‘I don’t think we’re getting enough from the industry,'” Smith said about the lack of exports, adding that he is also worried that the industry is not producing enough garments for Canadians.
“If we don’t produce enough, the demand won’t come from Canada, it will come from somewhere else,” he said.
CBC News requested the production numbers of the textiles and footwear produced by Canadian Tire for its story.
But the company has not provided any production numbers.
In the meantime, Smith said he wants to focus on growing the textile and footwear industry.
Smith says he thinks the industry can grow even more if it can be more flexible and diversified.
“You have to be able to diversifying, and that means you have to diversifiy the supply chains, and you have an opportunity to diversified it,” he explained.