Interview with Dr Norbert Weigand

Face2Face
Dr Norbert Weigand
Dr Norbert Weigand
CEO & President
CHT R. Beitlich GmbH
CHT R. Beitlich GmbH

What products are likely to be appended to your present list?

CHT has a quite comprehensive product list. Existing gaps are filled step by step. The focus at present is on garment processing industry. CHT will enlarge its present product portfolio to give denim jeans a wash-out look or other contemporary and modern appearances.

Textile processing industry in Europe is not growing, currently. More and more customers are closing down or shifting their activities to low cost manufacturing countries. In order to compensate, CHT is looking for additional business opportunities.

It has the chemical know how that can be used for other industry branches. One example is textile care, products for laundries which will remain in Europe.

Other examples are organically modified silicones for car care, household or cosmetics; modified guar products for the building industry or complex building agents for paper industry.

The core business of CHT is and will remain - the textile industry. But regarding Europe, a diversification is necessary to safeguard and increase employment.

What role does CHT Group play in carpet industry?

In carpet industry, CHT is not a global player, but well recognized in Europe, particularly in Belgium. Here, CHT offers a broad range of dyeing auxiliaries, thickeners, finishing products and flame retardants, not to forget textile dyestuffs.

Could you please share your views on projections that you foresee for various segments of the specialty chemical industry?

Specialty chemical industry is facing big changes at present, and this will continue also for the next few years; especially for the textile auxiliary business and dyestuffs. The traditional multinational companies are viewing textiles no longer as core business. DyStar has been sold to a financial investor PLATINUM. Ciba has sold its textile business to HUNTSMAN. Lanxess has sold the textile activities to EGERIA, also a financial investor; to name a few divestments in recent years. But SME's are also coming under pressure, e.g. Rotta and Th. Boehme, are both now a part of DyStar. This is not only a European trend but is found also in the US, where consolidation process is accelerating, e.g. Virkler or Apollo etc.

In spite of all these changes, in future, speciality chemical industry will play even a greater role in various segments than it has been playing in the past. This also is an excellent chance for all SME's.

The demand for technical textiles will grow, e.g. geo-textiles, non-wovens etc.

Another example is functional textiles, used in sports clothing for wind and water proofing, breath ability, UV-protection to mention only a few examples. These products will have a growth potential far above average and the demand for such products will not only grow in the industrialized states but also in countries like India, Pakistan, and especially in China.

CHT is well poised on the technological expertise front for which it has prepared to offer innovative solutions and meet such demands, globally.

How do you see the impacts of REACH on dyes & chemicals sectors?

REACH, the new European chemical law for Registration, Evaluation, and Authorization of Chemicals will come to force on June 1, 2007 after many years of controversial deliberations. REACH, in the final and now binding version, will have a great impact not only on the Chemical and Dyes industries, but also on the so-called down-stream users, our customers. Based on volume and risk, all chemical substances have to be registered at the European Agency, based in Helsinki, Finland. Without going in details, latest by November 2018, all chemical substances manufactured, imported and distributed in the EU will have to be registered according to their application. After that date, non registered/authorized chemical substances may not be sold within the EU.

REACH is, after some modifications, a great challenge especially for SME's manufacturing low volume chemical substances. The related costs cannot be transferred to the customers. Even nowadays, it is nearly impossible to increase selling prices according to increased raw material cost. Some substances might be no longer available - not because of their risk potential but only because of the costs. CHT has calculated a 2-digit million EURO amount to fulfill the REACH requirements - a manifold of the annual EBIT generated within EU!

The biggest risk however, is that imported articles, e.g. textiles manufactured outside EU, are not part of REACH. Thus, the objective of REACH to protect the environment and human health of end users will not be achieved. Additionally, EU-textile manufacturers might be forced to transfer their production to non-EU countries with further loss of working places in Europe.

Published on: 04/06/2007

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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