Located in the proximity of Atlanta in the US southeastern state of Georgia, Buhler Quality Yarns Corp. is a subsidiary of a 200 year old yarn manufacturing company-Hermann Bühler AG. The firm’s ring spinning operation is producing some of the world’s highest quality combed cotton yarns, as well as as yarns made from other cellulosic fibers and blends between Supima cotton fiber and other cellulosic fibers, using exclusively SUPIMA® extra long staple cotton fibers and other cellulose fibers made by Lenzing in Austria. Mr Werner Bieri is the President & CEO of Buhler Quality Yarns Corp. His experience in the global textile market spans over 24 years. He started his career in Textiles in 1984 by joining as an MD in Hermann Buhler AG- Switzerland. Mr Bieri took on the responsibility of making Hermann Buhler AG a global market player in textiles, long before “globalization” would be in everybody’s vocabulary. His expertise in the marketing field lead to his appointment to establish a production facility in the NAFTA region in order to benefit from trade agreements between the countries in the Americas and other parts of the world today, including the African Subcontinent. Mr Bieri is currently focused in turning Buhler Quality Yarns Corporation into an export oriented textile company in response to the sharp decline of the US domestic customer base. Under his leadership the company has managed in the past five years to grow from zero percent export to over 40 percent today and still increasing. Mr Bieri started out in the agriculture business (not cotton related in Switzerland), where he graduated from the Agro tech in Lausanne, Switzerland. He also holds a degree of the Business School in Winterthur. After spending 3 years in the Swiss Army he left the military with the rank of captain. He then worked for 6 years in a consulting firm in Winterthur, Switzerland, where he had contacts with world renowned Swiss based manufacturers viz Sulzer, Rieter, Ciba etc. Currently, Mr Bieri is on the executive board of NCTO (National Council of Textile Organizations), a board member of CCI (cotton council international), a board member of NCC (national cotton council and a member of the spinners committee in ITMF (International Textile Manufacturers Institute). He is also a member of the Cotton Board since 2001. In a dialogue with Face2Face team, Mr Werner Bieri comments on current issues in global cotton market.
200 years of business affairs in textile arena; how does this accrued experience help you to serve the sector better? What was Buhler two centuries back and how does it introduce itself today?
While Buhler has been until the late 1980’s a predominant player in the European markets, it has become a global market participant in the 1990’s and focuses more on specialty yarns then in its earlier days. The global strategy has also included setting up a new production facility in the USA in 1996 to balance currency risks and serve the global market place better and take advantage of US bilateral trade agreements (such as NAFTA, CAFTA etc.)
Which all success formulas help Buhler Yarns to enjoy popularity in the market?
The focus on the high-end markets; development of innovative types in yarns; and paying close attention of consistency and quality in raw material sourcing. Besides, we have well educated and prepared staff, which has the flexible thinking and attitude required in today’s challenging, ever changing and competitive market place. This prevails in the sales/marketing as well as in the production arena.
Can we request you to provide us the gist of present scenario in cotton market world over? What are your expressions on cotton prices inflation? How will this affect your business?
No question that the recent run up on prices in the cotton markets around the world is very challenging fact, we remain focused on our role as a niche player and with our relationship over many years with sourcing executives of main brands and retailers, we feel confident that we are able to bring the message to the right target audience. In addition, we have the possibility to switch our product mix in such a way that the impact is manageable and will allow Buhler to keep prospering among a very competitive global market place.
Kindly apprise us about current trends in natural fibre market in USA and Switzerland.
I can’t disclose specifics about our fiber sourcing strategy, but can elaborate that our focus is global and not in any way confined to specific regions.
How does research and development team contribute towards Buhler’s market lead? Have you any new products in pipeline?
In the past 5 years we have come onto the market with several new and innovative products, not only related to new or improved fiber qualities and fiber processing, but also by using certain treatments of yarns to allow for unique downstream processing.
Catering to NAFTA, Central/South American and Caribbean markets, how have you noticed FTA’s and the kind of sops offered therein benefiting your industry?
Sure, as mentioned above, the US production facility has been set up amongst other reasons for Buhler to benefit from the various bilateral US FTA’s, which usually require US or regional spun yarns in order for bringing garments made of those yarns duty free in the US market place. On higher end yarns, reps higher end garments, those duty free benefits outweigh the higher manufacturing costs, especially, if the shorter lead times are taken into account as well.
What all can be figured out to be the bottlenecks for your industry?
We will certainly be challenged by the REACH initiative of the European Union, if not directly then indirectly by our customers products. The steep increase in energy and freight costs poses a threat to our global presence but also at the same time a chance. Fiber price developments will be one of the most to be watched issue in the future, as they are as much a result of increased worldwide consumption as of reduced production in cotton (the consumption factor has not been taken enough into consideration for price hikes!). Environmental aspects will also require adequate responses from manufacturing and this will include in the future transportation, challenging supply chain management.
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.