Interview with Mr. Gerhard Huber

Face2Face
Mr. Gerhard Huber
Mr. Gerhard Huber
CEO
Benninger AG
Benninger AG

Asia is going to continue to grow in terms of importance..
Incorporated in 1859, the Swiss group Benninger has been the textile industry's leading partner across the globe for more than one hundred and fifty years with global branches and service representatives. Benninger develops and manufactures textile finishing and cord production ranges as well as providing complete system solutions. The group has global presence with branches including most important markets of Asia and Europe. Benninger distinguishes itself in the market through three core competencies: Comprehensive process know-how with consultancy and project planning, innovative and reliable products , customer-focused service through start-up support and individual problem solutions. Mr. Gerhard Huber joined Benninger in 2003 as a member of the Managing Board and has served as COO since March 2009, as CEO since June 2011. Prior to that, Mr. Huber was Head of Production and Sourcing at Benninger. Mr. Huber joined Benninger after spending three years at Dätwyler Gummi & Kunststoffe AG where he served as Group Head of Production & Logistics and Head of the U.S. subsidiary. Before that, Mr. Huber spent six years at ABB Turbo Systems where he held various engineering and production related management positions. Mr. Huber holds a Masters in mechanical engineering from the University of Applied Sciences, Konstanz. In a talk with Ms. Madhu Soni, Sr. Editor & Correspondent- Face2Face, Mr. Gerhad Huber brings to light the current trends as well as the major makeovers that textile-machinery sector has been through in the past century.

'A future needs an origin' - a very interesting dictum from the Benninger Group! Mr. Huber, furthering towards conversation, please share a word on how Benninger's origins ensure its future niche in an industry like the textile industry, which is so prone to changes-

It has been very clear for some time now - particularly since the financial and economic crisis - that both the market dynamics and the market environment/requirements are changing significantly. At Benninger, we are aligning our operational and strategic approaches to these changes and new requirements, so that we can continue to offer added value to our long-standing customers. In the process, Benninger places great value on taking the company's technological know-how and experience in wet finishing and applying it to the products of the future for the benefit of our customers. At Benninger, we can look back on more than 150 years of experience and are able to build on the strengths of our team of long-standing employees and specialists.

Sir, Benninger first became active in the sector - and since the incredibly long span of 150 years . Please tell us about some of the revolutionary makeovers that the textile-finishing sector in particular has been through during this span.

In recent decades, a clear trend has emerged that textile customers require their partners to do more than just supply machinery ('hardware'). Instead, customers want to be supported by a competent system supplier who can help across the board in all areas. So, in addition to the mechanical systems we supply, we have widened our portfolio of services step-by-step in areas relating to compatibility with the chemical industry, technological results, productivity, operating costs and - more recently - ensuring that resource balances are optimised (e.g. in terms of the so-called 'carbon footprint'). In doing so we have expanded our partnership to a much more comprehensive and holistic arrangement. As a technology leader, Benninger plays a guiding role, helping to establish trends and set out new directions and using its competence (which is based on the company's huge experience) to offer customers optimised and integrated solutions both in terms of processes and in terms of machine-building. Last but not least, this is also a reason why the tried and tested Benninger concepts keep being copied.

Given the current macroeconomic situation, which regions are set to grow as important markets for Benninger?

As in the last few decades, Asia is going to continue to grow in terms of importance, particularly in countries like India, China, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand. However, Benninger will also continue to develop its traditional markets in Europe, North Africa and South America by retaining the necessary presence here.

And, which important trends do you currently see in the knitwear sector?

We are seeing two important developments here: on the one hand, there is potential for growth in the knitwear segment as a result of fashion trends and market shifts. On the other hand, JET technology will soon be replaced with CPB based systems, which offer major advantages in terms of the consumption of resources (water and chemicals) and in terms of achieving reproducible, consistent quality. Here, Benninger can offer customers leading, sustainable technology in the form of the 'Original Benninger Küsters DyePad'.

So, what level of importance R&D enjoy in Benninger's corporate agenda and what role does a 'sustainable' approach play here?

As already mentioned, Benninger stands out as the technology leader in its traditional segment. Continuous further development of products, methods and processes is a vital prerequisite for ensuring that we can maintain and improve this position of strength. At Benninger, we believe in a comprehensive system solution approach which offers customers a long-term, sustainable solution in terms of methods, productivity, operating costs and environmental impact.

As a Swiss company, how does Benninger view its competition at home and overseas? User friendliness, compatibility, cost effectiveness and maintenance service agreements are all key elements of customer loyalty. What plans Benninger has on this front?

The competitive environment is constantly changing as a result of the evolving market environment. Our future competitors will come from the local markets in China and India in particular. With this in mind, Benninger is adapting its portfolio of products and services and its structures so that we can meet all aspects of our customer's requirements - things like time to market, customising, pricing etc. Here again, Benninger is able to build on a long-standing and well-based tradition of focusing on the customer.

Your group was an exhibitor at ITMA 2011, which recently came to an end. I would like to thank you for joining us for our Face2Face talk and close our conversation by asking you which aspect of the industry you were most struck by at the event.

Against the background of the current general economic climate, we approached the trade exhibition in Barcelona with cautious expectations. However, we were surprised by the attendance, both in terms of quantity and quality. We were pleased to see clear trends emerging in relation to sustainability, more careful use of resources and energy efficiency, and this will help to guide the textile machinery industry in cooperation with the textile manufacturers to new developments and new forms of cooperation.

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Published on: 28/11/2011

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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