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The Rupp Report: ITMF Summit Update

Jürg Rupp, Executive Editor

As the Rupp Report already informed some weeks ago, this year's annual conference of the International Textile Manufacturers Federation (ITMF) will take place in Bregenz, Austria, Sept. 8-10, 2013 (See " The Rupp Report: Vorarlberg In The Center Of Textile Attention," TextileWorld.com, April 2, 2013). As time is getting closer to the event, the Rupp Report asked ITMF Director General Christian Schindler, Ph.D., to give an update on the conference.

The Textile Value Chain
RR: "Power sharing between Production and Distribution" is the main theme of the ITMF conference. Why were these issues chosen to be the topics, Dr. Schindler?

Schindler: The title implies that the textile value chain — from fiber to retail — is a very long one that constantly needs to improve understanding and strengthen cooperation in order to make it a strong, reliable and profitable chain for all partners involved. There is a saying that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. The partners along this supply chain need to have a good understanding of the challenges along this supply chain in order to react to new developments and changes. The volatility of raw material prices since 2010 is a very good example.

RR: Referring to the program for this year's conference, further topics are:

  • cotton and man-made fibers;
  • Europe's textile industry;
  • the textile supply chain;
  • retail, branding and social media;
  • technical textiles and nonwovens;
  • China's textile industry — today and tomorrow; and
  • The global market situation for textile machinery.

Can you give a few more details about these topics?

Schindler: The general topics are somewhat different and give an orientation of what the participants can expect at the conference. We want to inform the participants about developments in the industry. This starts with presentations on fibers and concludes with presentations about the dynamics of the retail industry and its implications for the textile industry. As you already mentioned in some of your reports, branding and social media are becoming important factors in today's business world; this will be a very special part of the program.

Of course, we will have a look at the European textile industry and its successful strategies both in traditional and new textile markets, especially for technical textiles. Since China is such an important player in almost every area of the textile supply chain, we will have a closer look at the ongoing changes in that country. We will also look at the dynamics of new investments in textile machinery around the world.

Joint Events
RR: Who had the idea to bring the conference to Bregenz?

Schindler: For more than 100 years, the ITMF Annual Conference has been held in different countries in different regions of the world. This year, ITMF convenes in Bregenz following the invitation of the Austrian textile industry association and Lenzing AG, which are joint hosts of the conference.

RR: What are the main advantages of coming to Bregenz?

Schindler: The ITMF Annual Conference offers not only a very interesting conference program; it also serves as a platform to meet old friends and make new friends, to discuss topics of common interest and to exchange in an informal way views, experiences and best practices. In addition, ITMF delegates can also attend the Dornbirn Man-made Fibers Congress, which will take place right after the ITMF Annual Conference in the neighboring city of Dornbirn.

RR: Why do you think this is an ideal place?

Schindler: Well, Bregenz is located in the heart of Europe in the triangle of Austria, Germany and Switzerland. It has a long tradition in textile production and is, of course, situated in a wonderful region right at the shores of Lake Constance.

RR: What do you personally expect from the congress?

Schindler: Personally, I hope that the participants will leave with a lot of information and food for thought, and in good spirits having met old and new friends alike.

Showcase For The Austrian Textile Industry
RR: And what do you expect from the congress for the Austrian textile industry?

Schindler: The Austrian textile industry will, of course, showcase its industry and demonstrate that its industry is vibrant, flexible and innovative. It is impressive to see how resilient the textile industry is in this country.

RR: Are you happy so far with the registrations?

Schindler: We are indeed happy with the registration process. Even though the program is not final yet, we have a good number of registrations from many different countries like Japan, Brazil, China, United States, France, India, Pakistan, Germany ... just to name a few.

China's Big Impact
RR: If you compare the ITMF today and 10 years ago, are there any changes?

Schindler: I have been with ITMF since 2004 and therefore cannot quite compare. However, it is certain that the structural changes in the global textile industry that one could observe since the end of the old quota system as well as China's membership in the WTO had an impact also on ITMF. Asia became the dominant region of textile production, and hence, Asian representation within ITMF increased.

RR: What are consequences of these changes?

Schindler: As a result, the Federation has increased its membership and grown stronger with many new corporate members, a membership category that was only introduced in 2000. The fascination about the textile industry is indeed a universal issue and, consequently, at the forefront of globalization.

RR: What is ITMF doing to keep its outstanding position in the global textile industry?

Schindler: We will continue to provide an international platform for the global textile industry. It is necessary to have a neutral forum where people can meet and discuss issues of mutual interest outside the hectic trade fairs and in a stimulating and relaxed atmosphere. Furthermore, we continue to improve our set of publications and add smaller platforms for meetings on special topics like fibers, home textiles, technical textiles and such.

June 11, 2013