UCMTF is a group of 30 French specialty textile machinery manufacturers, often world leaders on their specific markets. Their total annual consolidated turnover of 1 billion Euros (1.1 billion US dollars) makes France the sixth textile machinery exporter. They are particularly strong in long fibre spinning, yarn twisting, heat setting, Jacquard and dobbies, carpet systems, dyeing and finishing, felts and belts for finishing processes, nonwovens, air and recycling processes. The following is an Interview of Bruno Ameline, the President by Evelyne Cholet, the Secretary General of UCMTF.
Cholet: Mr. Ameline, can you tell us about your experience with the textile industry?
Ameline: I graduated with a master degree from a renowned engineering school in France, Ecole Centrale and started my professional career in aeronautics. I had no prior connections with the textile industry when I joined the NSC group, a family controlled company listed on the Paris stock exchange in 1999 to become its Chairman and CEO.
In 2004, I was elected President of UCMTF.
During these years, I have discovered the fascinating world of textiles. Textile is a technology almost as old as mankind, but still today, it reinvents regularly itself and stands at the spearhead of many high-tech developments. When I think of apparel, I am fascinated by the creativity of designers, by the high quality standards requested by the end-markets, by the fast and flexible logistics achieved by producers and distributors. When I think of home textiles or carpet manufacturing, I am fascinated by the inventiveness of some carpet clusters.
Technical textiles which pave the way to so many new applications and growing at a fast rate are also an impressive sector. Needless to say, I am fascinated by the textile machinery sector, by the everincreasing productivity of the machines, their reliability, the level of safety now achieved for their users, the automation devices (which can be equally compared to those in aeronautics, I can tell!), and more recently the energy consumption concerns which trigger the latest innovations. I am also fascinated by key industry events like the ITMAs, which attract the whole textile planet for 8 days on the same spot!
I really look forward to a great future for this industry.
Cholet: Yes, but in Europe the textile industry has shrunk. Has this industry any future in this continent?
Ameline: It all started with apparel manufacturing, which is labor intensive and which grew a large textile industry in Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries. Textile production then moved to lower labor cost areas and closer to the mass user markets – meaning Asia – although it had become more capital intensive with automation. But many innovations and creativity still originate from Europe. Look at the most prestigious brands in apparel, the designers are based in such places as Paris, London or Milano. Look at technical textiles. In this sector European and American firms are still the most innovative ones and the production is still mostly on their shores. Look at the textile machinery, the most innovative companies – and many of the largest -are from Europe and ITMA Europe the largest textile equipment event worldwide.
Some companies do relocate in Europe or America to improve their customer’s service and take advantage there of some cost differentials like the low cost of energy and the quality of manpower. I do not think that relocation will be a major trend but I believe that the downsizing of the textile industry in Europe has come to an end and that the European textile machinery will continue to play the leading role.
Choiet: How are the French textile machinery manufacturers doing in this context?
Ameline: In 2015, in most application sectors we are back to the best levels achieved before the 2008-2010 crisis, many of our companies have achieved record sales and order intakes but there is a lack of visibility in some major markets.
The economic uncertainty and financial turmoil which we are currently observing in China may lead to a real slowdown. It is hard to tell whether the slowdown will accelerate, if it will be a soft landing or whether growth and investments will rebound.
I am more positive about India, the modernization of the textile industry is crucial for its future but investments decisions are slower than we did imagine.
Other Asian markets stay active and the investment mood is still positive in many markets like Indonesia, Thailand, or South Korea. However, the competitive devaluation of the Yuan, if amplified, may create a big challenge to these economies.
The Turkish market has been very active so far thanks to the long term managerial strategies of our Turkish customers but the 2015 economic slowdown, the current political uncertainty with the upcoming elections in November and the sharp decrease of the Turkish currency create some clear signs of attentism.
Iran is the real short term opportunity for the European textile equipment. Modernization is urgent, the entrepreneurs are in the starting blocks, the projects are well advanced, since the Geneva agreement on the upcoming raising of international sanctions. But financial circuits will take time to regularize. Soon, we will probably have more visibility on this promising market.
The US economy is clearly growing, the shale gas and oil resources have created a real gain on American production costs, financing is abundant hence USA should be a positive market for our machines. It is actually the case for some of our members active in specific applications like technical textiles, carpet manufacturing or recycling but, as I already said, I do not think relocation will be a major trend in apparel textiles.
Key markets in South America like Brazil or Argentina are globally severely hurt by their lingering economies and political instability. We are particularly disappointed by the Brazilian market. Markets like Western Europe, Eastern Europe or Central Asia are doing quite well but are not large enough to compensate for a sluggish China, should the market there decline significantly. All together, I am positive for 2015 as we currently enjoy buoyant order backlogs, but I feel concerned about a possibly stagnant 2016.
Cholet: What do you expect from ITMA in Milano?
Ameline: ITMA 2015 is clearly a must-attend event, particularly in the context of slowing markets. Technical innovation – a genetic attribute of ITMAs in Europe – is a strong lever to activate sales.
Up to now, nearly 104 000 square meters of exhibiting space have been booked; this is already 20% more than for the last ITMA in Barcelona. During the last 4 years, the number of equipment manufacturers may have shrunk because of consolidation, but they are all stronger and willing to exhibit their knowhow with increasing presence and larger booths... There will certainly be many innovations unveiled and an emphasis on energy, water and raw materials savings. ITMA’s 2015 motto is “master the art of sustainable innovation”, sustainability is certainly a major decision parameter for investing. The French machinery manufacturers have already made inventive inroads into sustainability and we include this ingredient into all our new projects and R&D programs. In Milano, a record number of visitors are expected from all over the world, they will represent an astonishing number of companies with investments projects.
I believe that the choice of the city where ITMA takes place is of essence for the success of the show. The venue is chosen among European cities which offer the best expo center, travelling and hosting facilities and, it is very important, the greatest attraction power. Milano certainly meets all these qualifications.
Cholet: Why should ITMA visitors come to the French manufacturers’ booths?
Ameline: Primarily to discover each individual company’s innovations. Innovation is in our DNA. Remember Joseph Marie Jacquard, the most well-known textile machinery inventor, he was French! Frenchmen also invented the steam-powered automobile, vaccines, the high-speed train, the supersonic commercial airplane, computer chips on payment cards and much more! France sometimes has a reputation of great new ideas, poorly marketed. This has largely changed, as our textile equipment companies are SME’s run by entrepreneurs not by engineers. Innovation is now derived mainly from down-to-earth partnerships with our clients.
Even if SME’s, the French equipment manufacturers have set up very effective networks to offer the best service to most remote customers’ locations. We support our clients wherever they operate. We do it through our own local service teams, warehouses, agents or distributors.
For the spare parts, our members have been pro-active in opening local warehouses in important markets to deliver the much awaited parts without transportation or customs delays, hence offering a high level of service.
We work with our clients to help them to introduce new products on their markets, to have reliable and cost efficient production processes. This gives us a real competitive advantage.
Cholet: Copycats are a danger to European manufacturers, how do you deal with this issue?
Ameline: We absolutely need to protect our intellectual property; it may be our most important asset. Within our association, we have established an active working group on this strategic topic. We will sue the counterfeiters very aggressively. We have strong arguments: our patents, our brands. Most of our customers understand that the “real machine” and original parts is in their long term best interest. We have become very strict concerning the use of counterfeited parts as we cannot guarantee a machine which uses counterfeited parts.
Each company, national associations, the Cematex and the machinery show organizers have to work together on this sensitive issue. In this war against copycats we receive more and more support from the governments, the international bodies and the judiciary systems.
Cholet: How does your association help its company members?
Ameline: We meet very regularly and speak very openly about our strategies, projects and concerns. As we offer equipment for complementary processes, we can team up to offer complete lines when our customers want to have one company responsible for its project.
UCMTF Promotion Committee under the chairmanship of our Vice-President International, Christian GUINET, is very active to promote our offer worldwide. Every year UCMTF organizes customer seminars in two countries.
In April 2015, we were invited by Mr. Ilkhoom Khaydarov, the Uzbek Minister in charge of the textile industry and Chairman of the Board of the state joint-stock company for the light industry, to organize conferences in Tashkent and Bukhara. These were very well attended by the Uzbek textile companies.
In June 2015, we organized 4 conferences in Iran, in Tehran, Kashan, Ispahan and Yazd. In order to describe and present more precisely our offer, and for us to understand better the Iranian customers’ needs and, to really have direct contacts with them, we decided not to make a big event in one place but four regional ones.
Our Promotion Committee also initiated in 2014, during one of such seminars, cooperation with the Russian textile industry. Mr. Serguei Rasbrodin, President of Soyuzlegprom, Mr. Christian Guinet and Mrs. Evelyne Cholet, Vice-President International and Secretary General of UCMTF, signed a Memorandum Of Understanding on April 21, 2015 in Moscow.
Cholet: How would you wish to conclude?
Ameline: Worldwide, textiles manufacturers face an array of challenges: open new markets, design new products, produce them in a reliable, cost effective and sustainable way. In order to sail in today’s fast changing environment, they need reliable partners such as providers of innovative industrial solutions and cutting-edge technologies.
The French equipment manufacturers are well positioned to be such partners, they have a recognized expertise in finding solutions for critical projects, whatever their scope, whatever their geographic localization. The quality of our client relationships stems also from the high stability of our teams, allowing them to go well beyond the purely technical.
We will welcome all interested parties on our booths at ITMA in Milano. In the meantime they can find us through our website www.ucmtf.com.
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February 15-17: 2018 Western Canvas Products Expo, Palm Springs, Calif., USA
February 20-22: Techtextil Russia 2018, Moscow, Russia
February 22-24: FESPA Asa 2018, Bangkok, Thailand
February 27-March 3: R+T, Stuttgart, Germany
March 5-8: JEC World 2018, Paris, France
March 5-10: IFCEE 2018, Orlando, Fla., USA
March 6-8: AATCC International Conference, Greenville, S.C., USA
March 13-15: FILTECH 2018, Cologne, Germany
March 14-15: Outlook Asia, Singapore
March 15-16: 2018 International Technical Textiles Symposium, Taipei, Taiwan
March 18-19: Techtextil Russia, Moscow, Russia
Click here to view the complete technical textiles events calendar that includes show information links.
In October at the IFAI Expo 2017, I had the opportunity to sit down with -- at the time -- incoming Glen Raven CEO Leib Oehmig for an interview that has now been posted on the Textile World website and will also be in their printed November/December issue.
I've known Mr. Oehmig for probably more than 20 years and have watched his steady management progression within the Glen Raven organization. During the interview, he was very gracious with his time at a busy show and transparent in answering questions on a far-ranging number of topics including the management transition from Alan Gant, Jr., to Mr. Oehmig, the first non-Gant family member to lead Glen Raven. Click here to read the interview and learn more about the thoughts of one of our industry leaders.
As the saying goes "Politics make strange bedfellows." Today we find more than one-third of the Senate Democrats urging the inclusion of key amendments in the US FY 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (2018 NDAA) that would strengthen the US government's "Buy American" policies.
Versions of the NDAA were recently passed by both the Senate and House and a joint committee is working out a single bill. The submitted Senate version, however, left out proposed key amendments designed to prevent the weakening of domestic sourcing for the US military. One amendment included the prevention for lifting of the restrictions in place for domestic sourcing of wearable electronic products and another amendment prevents certain exceptions to the Berry Amendment which would allow non-domestic sourcing through memoranda of agreement with foreign governments.
What's the "strange bedfellows" aspect? Well, "Buy American" is also one of the key positions taken by the Trump administration. So, we have both the Democrats and the Trump administration on the same side, trying to keep strong the US domestic capability for supplying the military. Strange bedfellows given the current political animosity in Washington...but still the cooperation is vital for the US domestic textile industry.
Posted November 3, 2017
Since last August, the US Navy has been planning to phase out its iconic traditional wool peacoat in favor of a less expensive, synthetic cold weather parka which is lighter in weight and more versatile in types of inclement weather. It actually replaces two types of coats and the seabag the wool coat is stored.
The wool coat, however, has some powerful friends in the US Congress. Companies such as Northwest Woolen Mills in Woonsocket, R.I. and Sterlingware in Boston, Mass. Altogether, the supply chain involved in the manufacture of these woolen peacoats -- including sheep farmers -- is estimated to account for 400 jobs in the Northeast. Add to the drama that the new parka, made by the long-time military supplier Propper, is expected to be manufactured in Puerto Rico, a perceived feeling the new coat will be made by non-American workers. Read more...
June 29. 2017
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has released President Trump's 2017 Trade Policy Agenda. The document, officially called 2017 Trade Policy Agenda and 2016 Annual Report of the President of the United States on the Trade Agreements Program, outlines the new Administration’s four trade priorities:
BeaverLake6 Report has created a special page within this website and placed the first chapter of the 336-page document which summarizes the policy. Click here to read it. Posted March 2, 2017
Back on March 24, 2016, I was one of the first to predict the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement was a dead deal. In fact, I said that I wouldn’t be surprised that, if Donald Trump became President, the agreement is shredded on day one of his new administration. Well, I was off by three days. Yesterday, President Trump signed an Executive Order, officially withdrawing the United States from the TPP agreement. Now the question is can the National Council of Textile Organizations put together a comprehensive plan for the domestic textile industry in a post-TPP era? Click here to read the rest. Posted January 25, 2017
There are literally dozens of market reports for the many market sections and subsections within the technical textiles industry. In 2017, BeaverLake6 Report will be introducing a few of these reports to our viewers. The first report being features is The Future of Spcialty Geosynthetics to 2021. It was developed by Smithers Apex, a market research firm based in the United Kingdom.
In exchange for the promotion, Smithers Apex agreed to write an exclusive expanded executive summary of the market report for our readers. Click here to view the market summary. Posted January 9, 2017
2016 China Textile Innovation Conference, as an annual summit of industry innovation, was held in Beijing on December 12th, 2016. The conference, themed on “New Opportunity, New Advantages, New Vitality” – Stepping Towards a Textile Power, comprehensively summarized the industry innovation achievements and explored the new advantages in development in order to grasp the strategic opportunity of the new round of industrial changes. BeaverLake6 Report is pleased to present a report on the conference via our partnership with China Textile magazine. Please click here. Posted December 21, 2016
Domestic PFD Manufacturer's Application for FTZ Additional Production Authority Riles Textile Industry Trade Associations. There is a nasty fight taking place these past few months behind the closed doors of Room 48019 at the Herbert C. Hoover Building in Washington, D.C. The room is the office of the Foreign-Trade Zones Board. The fight pits domestic technical textile industry suppliers and a coalition of textile-trade associations against a fairly large domestic end-product cut-and-sew manufacturer. Click here to read the story.
In 2015, I posted more than 425 items of interest for our industry on the BeaverLake6 Report website. In reviewing it all last week, it got me to thinking about putting together a list of influential events, news and trends that I observed during the past year. I have focused primarily on the US marketplace but each of “the things that mattered” to me has global implications.
So, here go my thoughts in no particular order of importance. Let me know if you agree or if I have missed some. Click here to read the list.
Posted January 17, 2016
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