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The Rupp Report: ITMA Flash I

Jürg Rupp, Executive Editor

ITMA 2011 is over. The greatest textile show on earth took place from September 22 to 29 in the wonderful and vibrant city of Barcelona, Spain. It was an ITMA Europe full of unexpected successes. During the show, and certainly in the last few days of the event, the Rupp Report spoke to many exhibitors, but also to visitors to ask their opinions. One thing is clear: None of the exhibitors interviewed expected such a positive ITMA Europe 2011.

However, there were a lot of questions during these busy days. To give readers a more in-depth view of what was discussed, the Rupp Report will publish a series of interviews over the next several weeks. All company representatives answered the same questions. The sequence of the interviews will be purely random, but in general will follow the order of the articles published in Textile World , starting with spinning, twisting, knitting and finishing — to be covered in the November/December issue — as well as chemicals. The first interview is with a chemical supplier, Huntsman Textile Effects.

The Rupp Report spoke to Loraine Stantzos, head of global marketing communication; and Kent Kvaal, then-vice president, Specialty Textiles, and recently named vice president, Sales and Technical Resources. The answer to the first question about the frequency of ITMA Asia and sequence of the two ITMAs was quite different from a chemical supplier with its headquarters in Singapore than from a machinery manufacturer based in Europe: "As a chemical supplier," Kvaal said, "this sequence is perfect for us. On top of that, our headquarters are now in Singapore, so we are truly in the center of the industry, and this means Asia."

According to Stantzos, most visitors came from India, Pakistan and South America — particularly from Brazil and Columbia; but a lot of people also came from Turkey. Both Stantzos and Kvaal declared the visitor's frequency to be very good, indeed. "Especially the quality of the visitors was excellent," Kvaal said. "We've welcomed only decision makers. Our expectations were more than fulfilled."

Integrated Solutions
Huntsman showed with success a new dye range for digital printing, as well as the XKS range of chemicals for polyester/cotton blends for protectivewear and workwear applications with no color migration including a superior quality plus pretreatment. Both representatives mentioned the fact that Huntsman's goal is to be more an integrated solutions provider than "just a seller of chemicals."

"Yes," said Kvaal, "the European market is still important for us, mainly for R&D purposes. However, from a sales point of view, the Asian markets are today much more important, and everybody knows the reasons why."

For Huntsman, as well as for other companies, the actual economical situation is not that easy, but with new innovative products, both Kvaal and Stantzos are convinced Huntsman will be successful. "And," Stantzos said, "the feedback at ITMA for our new products was very good and promising. It also reflects the changing environmental consciousness of our customers that we have to offer sustainable solutions for apparel."

General Market Situation
Huntsman is investing a lot in R&D, which is the cornerstone of a successful business, Kvaal said. "We have to monitor and oversee the markets very carefully. As a recent example, if the price of cotton soars, we must offer specialized products for blends."

How does Huntsman see its future with relation to product development over the next few years after ITMA 2011? "Well," Stantzos said, "we are in a period of transition. However, we are very optimistic. We offer the markets new products to achieve special effects; our products allow reduced water consumption; we have active dyes and high-performance colors for polyester; and our no-chrome dyes for processing wool are extremely successful, and on top of that, they enable reduced water cycle times in the dyehouse."

"We are indeed very optimistic for the future of Huntsman," Kvaal said. "We are working very hard in this time of transition, and, as I mentioned before, we have a very strong and capable R&D department. Listen to your customers and fulfill their requirements. Then you have a great chance to be a successful supplier."

November 15, 2011