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The Rupp Report: ITEMA Weaving: Sailing Back To Success

Jürg Rupp, Executive Editor

One of the major players in the weaving machines sector is the Swiss/Italian manufacturer ITEMA Weaving. In the string of interviews with opinion leaders at ITMA 2011 in Barcelona, Spain, the Rupp Report talked to Sales and Marketing Director Fabio Mazzucchetti. ITEMA Weaving includes the well-known brands Sultex, Somet and Vamatex. After some rough seasons for the whole industry, the company seems to be sailing in quieter waters, which means back to success.

Good Show
"Yes," Mazzucchetti said, "we are very happy with the outcome of ITMA 2011 in Barcelona. The visitor's frequency was very good, and I would say that the quality of the visitors was even higher than in Munich four years ago. The only thing we are really not happy with is the fact that another ITMA will take place in Shanghai in June 2012.

So the next question about the pace of the ITMAs was more or less needless. Mazzucchetti said clearly that to have an ITMA Europe and ITMA Asia each every four years in alternation with each other would be much better. "I don't think that every two years will give more benefit, neither to the visitors nor to the manufacturers," he said.

As reported also by other exhibitors, ITEMA Weaving welcomed the most visitors from India, Latin America - and there mainly from Brazil — and also from Europe — led by Italian and Spanish visitors. However, in spite of the report of many European visitors, the Asian markets today are more important for the company. "Absolutely," Mazzucchetti commented. "Sixty percent of our sales are the result of orders from Asian countries, and only 40 percent are divided among sales from the rest of the world."

Successful New Products
ITEMA Weaving showed many machines in its booth. Of particular interest were the new Sultex A9500 air-jet weaving machine and the new Vamatex Silver 501 rapier weaving machine. "The response to these products was much better than expected," Mazzucchetti said. "We are very happy, particularly with the feedback for the Sultex A9500. Up to now, we were not that strong in this segment." ITEMA explains that it reduced the total parts of the machine by 30 percent, which results in a simplified machine concept requiring less maintenance. The A9500 is said to offer a unique shed geometry. The slay can be driven by conjugated cams or by a crank mechanism, depending on the requirements of the customer.

The other highlight mentioned by Mazzucchetti was the new Vamatex Silver 501 rapier weaving machine, a "strategic evolution of the highly successful Silver HS model," he added. Equipped with a newly developed electronic platform, the machine was developed particularly to handle demanding styles or heavyweight denim at the highest production speeds. The company reports that key developments of the drive and transfer systems should provide a more robust machine that insures a consistent, high-speed transfer at the lowest vibration pattern.

To complete the highlights, Mazzucchetti also mentioned the new electronic platform that was developed for all new weaving machines to be introduced to the market. This common platform features a Windows CE-driven, full-color touch screen as the user interface. The networking feature enables both serial-VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) and ethernet connectivity.

It is quite astonishing to hear that ITEMA weaving is successful with air-jet weaving machines. What is the reason for that? Mazzucchetti says that many countries are currently investing in air-jet weaving machines "and today, we have a very good product to offer."

Market Situation
Is the current financial situation (September 2011) distorting the business? "Yes, of course," Mazzucchetti said. "We are faced with a very difficult and sometimes strange situation: We have the orders from our customers in hand, but some of them are postponed. The situation in general is doubtful, as I mentioned before. The expectations are good; however, if countries like India and Turkey are holding back their order, there are some doubts about the future."

As is usual with the follow-up of ITMA 2011 stories, the Rupp Report contacted Mazzucchetti recently to hear the latest news following September 2011. The most evident question was: Has the demand since Barcelona dropped or risen further? "Well," he said, "most of the demand raised at ITMA did materialize, but at the same time, the overall market enquiries have been somewhat lower than what was expected."

Changing Marketplaces
Regarding the most important countries with regard to ITEMA Weaving sales since ITMA 2011, Mazzucchetti replied that most of the above-named countries remained important, and also North Africa, Southeast Asia and Turkey. Are they still the same countries as last year? "Only up to a certain extent," he said. "China is not on the list, but there is some activity; and the Indian subcontinent, particularly India, also is not mentioned. The reasons were already explained in Barcelona."

At the moment, shirtings and some home textiles are the top-selling segments for mills that are operating ITEMA weaving machines. Mazzucchetti described the sales ratio between traditional and technical textiles as being about 80:20 in favor of traditional textiles.

Expectations For The Future
And what is Mazzucchetti anticipating for 2012? "Well, it won't be that easy," he replied during ITMA. "If China doesn't move in a more positive direction, some suppliers will be in trouble." Today, some months later, the answer is quite similar: "The year 2012 doesn't look promising. There are still too many countries in which the situation is not clear and financing is still quite difficult. In many cases, the failure within the textile industry to make the repayments is very high, and thus, banks are reluctant to give new credit. On top of that, garments are still sold in pretty much lower quantities than before and export from the main textile-producing countries is slow. Even the denim industry is still struggling a lot. However, the expectations are better for the second half of the year."

And as an Italian, what is he expecting from the next ITMA Europe in November 2015 in Milan? "I don't see any problem that the event takes place in November. This is just another excuse to argue," he said. And in spite of his comments at the beginning of the discussion, he continued that "there is no doubt at all that ITEMA Weaving will be an exhibitor at ITMA Asia 2012 in Shanghai."


Editor's Note: In last week's Rupp Report discussing the Rieter Group's 2011 annual results and market strategy, Rieter Chairman Erwin Stoller was misquoted in reference to the production location and the intended market for the company's Air-Jet J 20 spinning machine and Rotor Box S 60. These machines are produced in Europe for the premium market segment and not in India and China for the mid-market segment. The editors regret the error, and the report has been corrected (See: " The Rupp Report: Rieter: To Be Fit For The Next Upswing," TextileWorld.com, March 27, 2012).

April 3, 2012

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