Interview with Paul Forman

Paul Forman
Paul Forman
Coats plc
Coats plc

Global recession, unfavorable trade policies, internal security concerns, high cost of production due to increase in the energy cost and different safety issues, specially fire - Which of these do you think is affecting the global textile industry? Kindly elaborate.

Every year people across the world are buying more and more clothes which creates a stable base for what could be argued is a recession proof industry. In addition, the Eurozone recession has stabilised and Asia offers huge opportunity so, overall, the outlook is relatively positive, although clearly it is not without pressures. The increase in fashion cycles across the year from the traditional two, means competition on the basis of time is now the biggest challenge. Then there is cost inflation and energy prices. Manufacturers need to work closely with contractors to help address those challenges and minimise their impact on the bottom line but, as an industry, I think we can be quietly bullish.

Coats is one of the largest and fastest growing manufacturers as well as suppliers of industrial sewing threads. What technologies do you think would help the sector advance further in the coming years?

The pace of technological advance in materials science is such that innovation is the only constant. Investment in R&D has to be a priority; new product launches help retain profile, drive sales and provide revenue for further R&D. Already high on the development agenda is sustainability: addressing the sources of our materials (renewable versus fossil), manufacturing footprint (energy and water usage) and end of life options (recycling and biodegradation). The sector needs to look at technologies that will enhance the sustainability of current products and produce new, more sustainable products and processes for the future with the biggest potential breakthrough being broadly in biotechnology. Harnessing natural processes to produce high performance fibres or eliminate the waste legacy of synthetic fibres is likely to transform our industry in the next few years.

You have previously mentioned that the big opportunity for the company is five billion people in Asia. In terms of consumption, how do you perceive the differences between Asian and Western consumers?

Yes, Asia presents a huge growth opportunity. The growing middle classes mean demand for apparel and footwear products is growing significantly, although it is not just about differences between Asian and Western consumers but differentiating within the markets in Asia. For instance Japan is the third largest retail market in the world but it reached the status of a mature consumer market many years ago. Its sophisticated consumers create intense competition and low growth potential for brands which contrasts greatly with the opportunities presented by the market of emerging middle class consumers in China.

Let me ask you this, counterfeit/inferior products often affect the sales. Does this problem persist in the case of threads and zippers and what is being done to overcome this problem?

Counterfeit/inferior threads and zippers would not have a direct impact on the sales of our products as such but we are very aware of the impact counterfeit/inferior products have on the sales of our customers. It is often inferior thread, threadwork quality and zippers that are the most obvious signs of a fake product so we are looking at how they become part of the solution, for instance by developing a security system that allocates a unique code to individual brands that can be secretly and permanently inserted within sewing threads used in selected seams in apparel, footwear and accessories.
Published on: 23/12/2013

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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