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The Rupp Report: The Long SwissTex Trail

Jürg Rupp, Executive Editor

Since before the history of mankind was written down, people have moved from one place to another. It is also often the case that companies open branches all over the world. But it rarely happens that a company changes its owner — and, therefore, its name — many times, while keeping its experience and know-how. That company has come a long way from the beginning to the current ownership, and it seems that this trail has come to a happy ending, as the Rupp Report observed during a visit to its premises in France.

System Provider
SwissTex Winterthur AG is a Switzerland-based textile machinery manufacturer and a system provider with a deep expertise in bulked continuous filament (BCF) and technical and industrial (T&I) extrusion processes for the filament yarn markets. The filament business unit formerly was part of the Switzerland-based Rieter Group. For years, SwissTex has offered complete extrusion systems and now is expanding its product range. The company has 75 employees and also runs a technical trial center that includes pilot plants for BCF as well as T&I yarns.

A Multitude Of Names
The multiple name changes happened to SwissTex's French subsidiary in Valence, France. Brands such as Verdol and ARCT are well-known in the older community of textile people. Then it became ICBT, owned by Bernard Terrat, former president of CEMATEX. When Rieter started its activities in man-made fibers and nonwovens, it bought ICBT from Terrat, and the new name was Rieter. However, a few years ago, Rieter decided to move away from the filament business, and the company again changed its ownership and became RITM.

In spite of growing success in the man-made fibers markets, and particularly filaments, RITM suffered as did many companies in the crisis of 2008 and 2009. Rumors in the markets predicted the end of the company. But in April 2010, SwissTex acquired RITM and it became SwissTex France S.a.s., a 100-percent affiliate of SwissTex Winterthur AG. The French company is specialized and has process expertise in machinery in twisting, assembling, cabling, covering and winding of yarns made of man-made, natural as well as mineral fibers. It also designs and manufacturers machines for technical yarn markets such as carpets, industrial and tire applications and glass; but also for the textile yarn markets.

Today's production of carpet yarns is a challenge requiring flexibility, creativity and market knowledge. Thanks to this acquisition, SwissTex says it now offers complete filament yarn processing solutions to its customers.

SwissTex's activities include process technology, key components, process design engineering, manufacturing and sourcing as well as after-sales service.

The company provides a full range of BCF components, upgrades and integrated systems in two- or four-end configurations for the processing of polypropylene, polyamide and polyethylene terephthalate yarns for rugs, carpets and tufted floor coverings; upholstery applications; as well as automotive applications. For T&I yarn processes, SwissTex has a broad system called symTTec that is said to meet the requirements of a wide range of end-uses. The company also provides individual components such as extruders, spin beams, draw rollers and winders. The necessary process expertise can also be provided.

Thanks to its new setup, SwissTex is looking into the most promising markets such as Asia, and China in particular, and has opened a sales and support office in Shanghai. CEO André Lienert has said that this move allowed his company to set new milestones, noting, "The combination of strong international experience and a keen understanding of local market conditions guarantees improved service for the customers."

The Rupp Report prefers to report more about good news than about failed companies. One can say that the future looks sound for the newly formed SwissTex group. It has a solid financial background and a lot of experienced and professional people. "We master the filament yarn technology," Lienert said in his opening speech during the presentation at SwissTex France. Is the long trail now over, and can the company also master its future? Time will soon tell — earliest at the next ITMA in Barcelona, Spain.

February 1, 2011