In your previous interview with us, discussing Radici’s geographic presence and future markets, you had expressed wish to increase Group’s activities in Turkey, South America, Eastern Europe and Asia. In the context of current times, how would you describe potential of these regions, and Group’s presence? Any more countries you may like to add as emerging markets for textile operations?
For RadiciGroup, the most interesting market after Europe is certainly Latin America, which has a good domestic market and is also in an advantaged position to meet North American textile market demand.
During our eleven years in Brazil, we have invested about USD 110 million (approximately EUR 75 million). This country has great potential yet to be tapped. We have worked, and are still working, to increase our market share in the synthetic fibres and plastics fields. We have also focused our efforts on improving our production quality and broadening our range of high-tech products. In the nylon fibres segment, we are planning to increase texturing capacity in 2010 with the start-up of three new lines, which will increase our textured yarn production by about 1,500 tons per year. We can also exploit synergies with Radici Spandex, a Group company located in the USA and engaged in the production of elastane fibre for sportswear, lingerie, body contouring and shaping items, ready-to-wear, hosiery, trimmings and braids, industrial applications, nappies and other applications in the sanitary-medical sector. Regarding acrylic fibre in South America, in addition to maintaining our presence in the traditional segments of fibre spinning and processing, we have recently expanded our new product offering in asnetos substitutes and technical applications. We have, as a matter of fact, launched a new Raditeck® acrylic fibre for industrial use available in six versions: AC, anti-crack fibre for cement; RF, for fibrocement; FL, flocked; ML, ground; HP, high pressure; and OX, oxidized.
Also regarding RadiciGroup global business, worth mentioning are several important investments in the engineering plastics sector. Guided by a philosophy that aims at supporting customers in their globalization strategies, in the plastics area we took our first steps toward the globalization of our organization in 1997, with the opening of our first production plant in Latin America. Today we are also based in Asia — China and India —, in Europe and in North America, where we concluded an important take-over just a few weeks ago. We acquired the American plastics compounder MDE, allowing the Group to be present locally in a notoriously conservative market that demands products made in the USA. What's more, we now own a considerable number of American automotive approvals, which are extremely valuable to get new projects underway.
Since the time we had spoken lastly, there had been sea changes in micro and macro economics. In this context, can you please draw a closer picture of movements in synthetic fibres market worldwide and trends seen therein?
First of all, the transfer of the textile and synthetic fibre business to Asia – to China, in particular, and India, a lesser extent — continues at a constant and unrelenting pace. Apparel is most certainly the sector where the move is most evident. In furnishings and industrial applications, after the steep plunge caused by the economic crisis, the recovery has started in those very countries and then extended to Europe and North America, with more stability expected in the mid term.
The economic crisis has redimensioned future growth prospects and postponed expansion until at least 2011 and, in certain sectors, until 2010-2012. Polyester is expected to continue to grow in the medium term at an average rate of 4%, much lower than the 7% of the prior decade. After losing 7.6% in 2009, nylon yarn should grow by 1% in 2010 and return to a medium-term growth trend of 1%. After falling 22% in 2008 and recovering by a little more than 3% in 2009, acrylic should see an increase of 2.4% in 2010. For all fibres, the growth leaders in terms of volume will be China and India.
In North America and Europe, the trend in the textile business towards downsizing and specialization in high value added sectors is going to persist. In particular, for European producers strategic competitive tool will be, also in the future, the ability to supply products that offer better comfort, safeguard the health and give technical performance at competitive prices. Offering timeliness and collaboration with customers in developing new functionalities and delivering the needed performance in the most effective and efficient way opens up a window of opportunity in domestic and foreign markets for experienced European manufacturers. Another important issue that we have to deal with in a serious manner is sustainability. There is more and more consumer demand for textile products that are eco-sustainable from the standpoint of carbon emissions, water usage and recyclability. We are talking about a complex issue that is central to our Group, an issue that the entire production chain is working on and coming up with different solutions, from improvement in process efficiency to the development of products made of renewable raw materials and the use of recycled materials.
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.