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Textile machinery manufacturing loosing its sheen
Jul '08
The versatility and flexibility of SME companies within Italy has gone a long way in making the textile machinery manufacturers a force to reckon with in the highly competitive global machinery markets.

The involvement of a personal touch in each and every dealing, constant search for new technology solutions and professional skills among a few attributes have contributed to creating an international goodwill in the global textile markets.

The major markets for the Italian machinery industry have been the continents of Asia and Europe which together import nearly 80 percent of all machinery output. Among nations, China is the biggest customer followed by other countries like Turkey, India and USA.

But in the last few years the Italian textile machinery seems to be loosing its sheen, built carefully and relentlessly over the last few years. The industry seems to be on a downslide since the last few years.

From a peak of Euro 2909 million in 2004, the production of plant and machinery slipped to 2547 million in 2005, but managed to regain lost ground in 2006 with figures of 2704 million and again went higher and closed 2007 with 2794 million. In real terms, growth in 2007 over 2006 is a miniscule 3 percent.

Exports also followed the trend set by production. At its zenith in 2004, shipments totaled Euro 2211 million, slipped to 2012 million in 2005, rose to 2109 million in 2006 and completed 2007 with export figures of 2151 million, a marginal growth of just 2 percent in 2007 corresponding to 2006.

Domestic sales kept pace with the declining numbers registered by production in recording a downslide from its high point in 2004 which had touched Euro 698 million in 2004. 2005 was the worst year as sales slipped by 14.75 percent to reach 535 million. Thereafter the sector regained its composure by regaining some lost ground in 2006 and 2007 with sales of 595 million and 643 million respectively.

Imports of textile machinery in retrospective have shown steady growth in the period 2004-07. From Euro 573 million in 2004, it grew to 582 million in 2005, slipped to 576 million in 2006 and jumped to 632 million in 2007 to record a growth of 10 percent over 2006. The inward shipments of machinery in to the country have actually grown by nearly 12 percent when compared with figures of 2004.

The main reason for lowering of production and domestic sales could be attributed to the stagnating domestic demand in the last 4 years. Demand has stayed nearly the same in 2007 when compared with to the same period in 2004.

Domestic demand which was Euro 1271 million in 2004 fell to 1117 million in 2005, ascended to 1171 million in 2006 and registered 1274 million in 2007. A flat growth compared to 2004, but a growth of 9 percent corresponding to 2006.

It must be emphasised that the Italian textile machinery industry would need to put in greater efforts towards product and process innovation. The sector would also need to be flexible and penetrate new markets if at all, to get itself out from the downslide.

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