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The Rupp Report: Change Or Consolidation?

Jürg Rupp, Executive Editor

The year 2012 was historical in many ways: First of all, the common people in the street discovered that the crisis in 2008 and 2009 didn't impact the financial world at all. Furthermore, the euro crisis revealed the true face of the European Union — that "the shirt of each country is closer than the jacket." The selfishness of some member countries culminated in severe problems, as they warned countries that had better control over their economies "to leave us alone with our problems." All this shuffled the global finance markets heavily. Brave new world!

The textile machinery supplier market changed its face drastically. For the first time ever, experienced people in the industry are saying that the only certain thing for the time being is the uncertainty. It will be interesting to compare the ITMA catalogue of 2011 with the forthcoming ITMA 2015 catalogue in Milan. Some examples? In June 2012, at ITMA Asia + CITME 2012 in Shanghai, Toyota Industries Corp., Japan, and Trützschler GmbH & Co. KG, Germany, announced their partnership to develop, manufacture, and market combing machines.

Chinese Shopping Tour
After several takeovers by Chinese manufacturers, the announced acquisition of Germany-based A. Monforts Textilmaschinen GmbH & Co. KG by Fong's Industries Co. Ltd., Hong Kong, was a true sensation. However, when the Rupp Report recently spoke to involved people, they didn't seem to be frightened about this new ownership.

Just one month earlier, textile community heads turned when the news arrived that Toyota made a tender offer to acquire Switzerland-based Uster Technologies. The acquisition eventually was carried out successfully. Also here, from talking to Uster staff, it was recognizable that the Swiss feel very good with the new owners.

Asian Power
Another indication that the global textile map has changed was seen in Hall W1 at ITMA Asia: For the first time in the existence of any ITMA, one company occupied one full hall alone: the China Hi-Tech Group Corp. (CHTC). In contrast to the ITMA rules that every section of the industry must be grouped in separate halls, CHTC assembled all its companies in Hall W1, without any problem.

China is still the number-one country in the textile industry, but for how long? According to the 2011 International Textile Machinery Shipment Statistics report released by the Switzerland-based International Textile Manufacturers Federation (ITMF), worldwide shipments of shuttleless weaving machines continued soaring in 2011 to 153,750 machines, an increase of 44 percent from the previous year's record of 107,000. China received 128,100 looms — 83 percent of the total; followed by India with 9,100 machines, or 6 percent; Indonesia with 2,900, or 1.9 percent; and Korea with 2,500, or 1.6 percent.

Oerlikon Becomes Saurer Again
But the sensation of 2012 was yet to come, and it happened some days before Christmas: The Oerlikon Group sold its Natural Fibers and Textile Components business units and signed an agreement with the Jinsheng Group of China. After a long trail, Oerlikon Textile will retake its traditional name, Saurer. The surprise of the deal was the fact that Heinrich Fischer, the former CEO of Saurer, is back on duty: He will be the chairman of the new group.

Positive Signs
However, in spite of the "Ponzi scheme" under which the global debts are rising tremendously, and the fragile situation, caused — again — by financial jugglers, there are some positive signals: As ever, the textile industry was the first to crash but also the first to spread its wings again in the wind. And, dear readers, believe it or not, the U.S. spinning industry is investing heavily in new equipment and even new mills.

And Edda Walraf, marketing director, Rieter Ltd., Switzerland, said last year after ITMA Asia: "Rieter believes in Asia. This is the reason why we invested in new factories and better market access in India and China. Volatility of raw material prices and increasing demand in sustainability will continue to be important. Fast reaction times to market needs and new technologies will be the key issues to stay competitive in the future. We must provide valuable solutions, which offer a fast return on investment, ensure technological leadership from fiber to yarn, support customers with a high level of services from making investment decisions to running entire installations." These words are valuable for all.

Thank You
The Rupp Report would like to express its gratitude to all its readers during the last year. It will strive to continue to be your window into the textile industry. May all of you around the globe continue to be active and supporting contributors to a lively and informative dialogue. Happy New Year and thank you all.

January 8, 2013