The US Consumer Is Back: Top Wal-Mart Supplier

Confidence is returning quickly to U.S. consumers, said Bruce Rockowitz, president of Li & Fung, one of the world's largest suppliers for major brands and retailers.


Speaking to CNBC on Friday, Rockowitz said his clients are buying a lot morethan they did just three months ago, and demand isn't only for low-end goods, but for luxury products as well.

"Today, we're really sitting on a very, very strong audit book for the rest of the year," he said. "I can't say it's tremendous yet in the United States, but our business is very strong."

Hong Kong-based Li & Fung, whose clients include Wal-Mart and Target, derives 75 percent of its earnings from the U.S. market.

On the subject of the spreading labor unrest in China, Rockowitz said the firm's been able to avoid worker disputes as it began diversifying the location of production outside of China—its manufacturing base—some 20 years ago.

He said the company currently has production operations in Bangladesh, Vietnam, India and Indonesia. "That's an evolution of the company that will continue to bring down our cost base," he added.

Rockowitz explained that prior to the global financial crisis, employee wages in China increased by 25-30 percent a year. "Now they're going back up to the 2007 levels, but quite frankly this is sort of a catch-up," he noted.

He also warned that with wage pressures mounting in the mainland, China will eventually be unable to maintain such competitive exports. And as production costs climb further, the country will begin to "reverse the cycle of deflation and start to export inflation," he concluded.