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The Rupp Report: Can You Afford To Buy Copies?

Jürg Rupp, Executive Editor

The third ITMA Asia is over. However, it’s still the talk of the town. ITMA Asia + CITME 2008 was mainly a Chinese exhibition with — sorry to be blunt — a large participation of copy cats, in spite of the official declaration to take serious action to protect intellectual property rights. Some exhibitors even painted their products the same color as the original the design was based on. Many first-class exhibitors complained that they have very extensive research and development budgets — up to 8 percent of their turnover — and some companies are just copying their ideas. But is it really a 100-percent clone?

The Wrong Attitude
The question here is not “to copy or not to copy.” The textile machinery industry is used to having ups and downs since it began the Industrial Revolution at the end of the 18th century. And as many exhibitors said in Textile World ’s survey, after a brilliant 2007, all bad factors came together at once, and times are very, very tough now. In the interviews, the reported drop in turnover for the first six months of 2008 was between 30 and 60 percent. In bad times, many manufacturers of textile machinery, and even more so textile producers, are looking for greater quality. Nobody can afford to have second choice or not delivering just-in-time. This is possible only with top-class equipment. Some mentioned in TW ’s survey that we will see another tough consolidation in the next 12 to 18 months, and this time more than ever, only the very best will survive with an outstanding ratio of product quality, services and price. If you are a yarn or fabric manufacturer, I wonder if this is possible with non-original products.

Don’t Argue
China is facing the same problems as the rest of the world, from wastewater treatment to soaring energy costs, for the first time since its rise to become the powerhouse of the global textile industry. As we all know, there are great efforts happening to raise quality and environmental consciousness in China, and all acknowledge the government for these steps. However, Rome was not built in a day — don’t forget there are 1.3 billion people in China who should bring up a new attitude, and this is anything but an easy task. So, why was China the most important market for at least the European textile machinery industry?

The Original
The answer is obvious: Chinese producers want, or even need, the best products to be competitive in the global market. With the rising income of the Chinese population, demand for quality, not quantity, also rises. Being Swiss and kind of a wristwatch aficionado, I must say that China is one of the best markets for Swiss luxury watches. I would not even dream of buying some of the models. And, to be sure, Chinese people are not buying copy watches, which were offered during the recent ITMA Asia + CITME 2008.

Get A Grip
Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against competition if everybody is playing under the same rules. May the best win — that’s how I was educated. If you don’t do your best, there are another 100 people waiting to take your position. There were happy moments for me at the exhibition, when industry leaders told me they have excellent people to work with and all are very keen to work even harder to maintain their marked position. Some companies even sold machines at the show, and celebrated in the evening with the whole team. Remember? Team spirit. And, as mentioned before, this time only the very best will win or even survive. And the best product — just like human beings — depends not on a pretty face, but on an inside value that you can see only after some time of staying and working together.

Any comments? jrupp@textileworld.com.

August 19, 2008