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The Rupp Report: More Good News From The Markets

Jürg Rupp, Executive Editor

Looking back over the past year, one must say, it was amazing. After the nightmares of 2008 and 2009, the world markets recovered in general and the textile and the textile machinery industry in particular.

As the Rupp Report has already reported in the past weeks, there is hope for 2011: Many companies are reporting an upswing, even in so-called high-labor-cost countries.

Higher Demand ...
For the Swiss textile machinery suppliers, Asia is still in the foreground of an increased demand. They also are noticing a trend toward improved quality, mainly in the spinning sector. This trend has been confirmed especially by people from Uster Technologies AG and Loepfe Brothers Ltd. Werner Schlaepfer, Loepfe's head of marketing, said sales for yarn clearers — that is to say, products for quality control — are soaring. The problem, as mentioned in a previous report, is still the supply of raw materials. But, say the manufacturers, it's not that easy to get better prices. Yet, everybody is certain that 2011 will be an even better year, thanks also to the forthcoming ITMA 2011 in Barcelona.

Dr. Lukas Sigrist, secretary general of the Textile Machinery Division of SWISSMEM, has noticed a considerable upswing of the Swiss textile machinery industry too. From January to September 2010, textile machinery exports from Switzerland increased by 46.4 percent, compared with the same period last year. The general situation is as follows:


These figures don't include the sales from the manufacturers' own production plants in Asia.

... And In Particular From Asia
It is no surprise that the Swiss manufacturers are also enjoying the biggest increase from Asia. China, up by 14.2 percent; India, by 12.6 percent; and, astonishingly, Japan, by 4.5 percent, show the largest increasing export figures, followed by Taiwan, Thailand and South Korea.

The figures also reflect the upswing by some countries in Europe: Germany, with an increase of 7.1 percent; and Italy, with a 6.0-percent increase, demonstrate a more favorable market environment.

But also in the Americas, there is an improvement in the markets: In spite of strict import regulations, the booming country of Brazil shows an increase of 4.8 percent; and the United States is also recovering, with a 3.8-percent increase.

Sigrist is convinced that the positive trend will go on. And the forthcoming ITMA in Barcelona will give the market a further kick. The only clouds for the moment are the volatile situation among the major currencies such as the U.S. dollar, the euro and the renminbi. Of course, the current cotton prices play some role in this context.

Not only for spinning, but also for weaving, the suppliers are noticing increased demand from the markets. Stäubli Sargans AG, producer of dobby and jacquard machines for virtually every weaving machinery producer, is reporting increasing demand from certain market areas such as Asia for the latest dobby and jacquard machines as well as for carpet machinery. And this demand was confirmed by the management of the Switzerland-based European headquarters of Toyota Textile Machinery Division. "We are back to regular sales turnover," said COO Robert Bieri and Sales Manager Rudolf Feucht.

Narrow fabric machinery producer Jakob Müller Ltd. confirmed an increasing number of orders around the world too, but mainly in Asia. Today, digital printings on narrow fabrics are enjoying larger interest to differentiate products. Eduard Strebel, manager, marketing services, said there is another increasing quality control issue, namely, product piracy and the demand for equipment that is able to identify a product and trace its life along the whole production chain. The Rupp Report will come back to this issue in the future.

December 14, 2010