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Innovation is key to success for European textiles: Coface
Feb '14
Although the European textiles remain competitive despite low-cost products from emerging countries, the real key to success lies in innovation, says a press release from the Coface Group, a worldwide leader in credit insurance.
The credit agency rates the outlook of the European textile and clothing industry as medium. It says the European demand for textiles is relatively stable, but the clothing trade is suffering from a fall in consumption.
In France, the number of insolvencies in the textile sector has almost halved since 2009, despite remaining close to an all-time high for French companies as a whole. At end-October 2013, of the 62,431 insolvencies recorded by Coface in a year, only 83 were in the textile sector.
The release says that the struggle to survive has forced many European textile companies to invest in technical textiles, generally in niche markets. “The Scandinavian countries were the first to take the innovation leap by restructuring their textile industry.”
Sweden, for example, traditionally invests more than the rest of Europe in R&D, with a spend equivalent to 3.4 percent of GDP compared with 2.25 percent in France and around 1.5 percent in Spain and Italy. It also trains engineers to meet the industry's real needs.
Commenting on the situation in the Latvian textile and clothing industry, Sandra Smiltniece, marketing and sales director, Coface Latvia, points out that in recent years, the Latvian textile industry has shown a slow and steady upward curve of exports.
Currently, a number of Latvian manufacturers make substantial investments in technology development and innovation in cooperation with different universities and on their own, she adds.
However, much of Latvian textile sales growth is from exports rather than from domestic consumption. Majority of Latvian textiles are exported to Russia and Belarus, according to Sandra.
The innovation drive is certainly paying off, but the question is whether there can be lasting stability in a sector faced with raw material price fluctuation. 
Innovation is not set in stone, and to continue sustaining the upturn in European textiles, the industry needs to pursue the strategy that led to its comeback. One of its key assets is the ability to supply to a variety of markets, since technical textiles can be applied to a wide range of fields, including sport, furniture, medicine, agriculture and the environment.
So, by developing R&D, the textile industry is contributing to upscale movements in other sectors and to the positive trend towards specialisation, particularly in Europe and France.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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