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The Rupp Report: Jakob Müller AG: Maintaining Its Leadership

Jürg Rupp, Executive Editor

Here is the next of the previews of exhibitors at ITMA 2011 in Barcelona, Spain. In this issue, the Rupp Report is looking at Switzerland-based Jakob Müller AG, Frick, a leading supplier of narrow weaving machinery. The Rupp Report contacted Eduard Strebel, manager, marketing communications, posing the same questions as in the previous reports.

Global Activities And Markets
The family-owned company, founded in 1887, has evolved from a traditional company to a globally active enterprise with production sites in Switzerland, Germany, the Czech Republic, China and India. The production program includes machines for woven and warp-knitted ribbons, belts and other narrow fabrics.

Jakob Müller also maintains offices for sales and services around the globe — in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Japan, China, Hong Kong, India and Germany. Almost 100 percent of the machinery produced is exported — to be precise, it's 99 percent. "Sales are quite even across the whole portfolio. We have no top seller at the moment," Strebel said. He claims that Jakob Müller is the market leader in various segments of the narrow fabrics industry.

And how does Strebel judge the current market situation? "Well, we have mixed emotions, and for the time being, we are carefully observing the situation. The circumstances in the global economy are somewhat insecure and even more severe for us as a Swiss machinery manufacturer due to the extremely strong Swiss franc," he said.

ITMA Barcelona
Some 50 people comprise the team that will be at ITMA in Barcelona. "We expect about the same number of visitors as in Munich four years ago — however, some will come from different markets than in Germany," Strebel said. "Furthermore, we expect some hesitation from the visitors as to eagerness to invest in new machinery in view of the current market situation."

Jakob Müller invited its global clientele using direct mail, among other means. Strebel judges the cooperation with the organizers of the fair to be excellent. "And for once," he said, "the strong Swiss franc is an advantage for Swiss exhibitors; we pay our square meters in euros."

The Future
What are Jakob Müller's targets in the near future? "We want to extend our leadership as a premium supplier for the ribbon and narrow fabrics industry," Strebel said.

And how does he judge developments in the coming years? "There will be certainly an increased price fight due to overcapacities in the markets," Strebel said. "On top of that, and this is not a secret, there is increased importance and awareness for technical textiles in Europe; and an ongoing shift of apparel manufacturing to Turkey, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Latin America."

September 6, 2011