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The Rupp Report

The Rupp Report: ITMA Flash III

It's been a stormy week since last week's ITMA Flash II about the Switzerland-based Rieter Group. This time, the Rupp Report takes a look at Germany-based Oerlikon Textile GmbH & Co. KG and talked to André Wissenberg, vice president, Marketing and Corporate Communications. As before, the same questions were asked so that you, dear reader, may get a clear picture of the different opinions and meanings regarding the recent ITMA 2011 in Barcelona, Spain. He also mentioned the eternal issue that having an ITMA in Europe and Asia alternately every two years would be good enough, for the simple and well-known reason that there are a lot of Asian exhibitions. But let's stick to ITMA 2011.

Positive Event
Wissenberg mentioned that most of the visitors came from India, Turkey, and Latin America in general and Brazil and Argentina in particular; but also from Africa and Europe. The visitor frequency was considered to be good, and Wissenberg described the visitors as being of outstanding quality and well-prepared for the visit.

"Yes," said Wissenberg, "our expectations were entirely fulfilled. However, for the next one in Milano 2015, we see a lot of problems due to the late timing in November." And how about the importance of ITMA in Europe in the future? "Well, we are sure that Asia will play an even more important role in the future for the conventional textile business," he said. "Nearly 80 percent of the business we generate is in Asia, and for man-made fibers, especially in Bangladesh."

And how does Wissenberg see the importance of the textile markets in the near future? "For Oerlikon Textile, it is clear: China and India lead the way, but the little tigers are further closing the gap. Also Korea for the man-made fibers business is improving. India is taking every effort to reduce the gap with China, but we are convinced that this will take at least five more years."

The actual economic situation is not distorting the business that much because of the fact that Oerlikon Textile is producing a considerable amount of its equipment in Asia. "The only thing that is somewhat disturbing the business is the volatility of the currencies," he said.

Tremendous Feedback

The question about new products that were displayed for the first time was answered this way: "We presented the new Autocoro 8 for the first time. The feedback was extremely positive," Wissenberg said. "Nevertheless, sustainability is also a big issue, and particularly saving energy. Quality is not an issue or sales argument anymore; quality is a basic need to be successful. The key issue is to produce the highest quality in the smallest possible space.

And what are the reasons for this success? "The Autocoro 8 is an extremely versatile machine, also for small batches, achieving 30- to 40-percent more output, or productivity. When combined with the spinning preparation equipment of one of our suppliers, our spinning and winding equipment is very competitive on the market."

Market Situation
The reported market situation for Oerlikon Textile is like that for other companies: "The volatile currencies and the high raw material prices are in the focus of attention. Especially the high raw material prices are difficult to handle, the whole situation seems to be out of any control and unpredictable. However, we believe there is still a lot of potential for textiles, particularly for technical textiles."

A Look In The Crystal Ball

And what about next year? "The man-made fibers business is on a very high level," Wissenberg said. "Oerlikon Barmag is already fully booked. Equipment for staple fibers enjoys a high demand, and overall, we are quite satisfied with the situation and the outlook for 2012."

And what about ITMA Asia in 2012 and ITMA 2015 in Milan? "Well, of course, we will be present in Shanghai next year. On the other hand, we think that we also will take part in 2015, although, as I mentioned before, the timing is not very good."

And how does Oerlikon Textile want to be present in the market in the next years? "Nobody is sleeping," Wissenberg said. "We have to be extremely alert, and show new innovations all the time to be competitive against the Asian challengers. The top issue is still to shorten the production time."

Closing Down Europe (?)
This draft about ITMA 2011, and the interview with Wissenberg, was already prepared to get a final editing, when parent company OC Oerlikon Management AG, Switzerland, announced it would reorganize and simplify Oerlikon Textile's structure and relocate its headquarters from Remscheid, Germany, to Shanghai, with a new CEO, Singapore native Clement Woon, succeeding Thomas Babacan at the helm. At the same time, R&D investment will increase, especially in Germany for continued development of innovative technologies, but also in China for regional adaptation (See "Oerlikon Announces Reorganization Of Textile Segment," www. TextileWorld.com, November 22, 2011).

The Right Move (?)

There is no doubt that in the global textile market, the music is playing in Asia. However, as many exhibitors said in Barcelona, Europe still holds the brain trust for most of the new inventions. On the other hand, it will be interesting to see, considering the cultural differences between Europeans and Asians, how the new setup will work. Other mergers or moves in the past few years have shown the opposite of what Oerlikon Group CEO Dr. Michael Buscher is expecting: "With this simplification of the organization, and a strong order book reaching into 2014, Oerlikon Textile is positioned to benefit from long-term trends in the textile industry."

November 29, 2011