Shall we begin the talk with a brief about UCTMF activities as well as facts and figures on its corporate identity?
UCMTF is a trade association grouping about 35 French textile machinery manufacturers. Our members are specialty manufacturers, SMEs, but among the world leaders on niche markets and specific applications. They are particularly strong in weaving preparation and nonwovens, and in specialized spinning, dyeing and finishing machinery. They export most of their production for an annual total of more than Euros 1 billion (close to US$ 1.3 billion) and employ more than 8 000. France is the 3rd exporter of textile machinery in the European Union behind Germany and Italy, the 6th worldwide, with a growing market share of 6.5%.
As a trade association and CEMATEX member, we provide marketing and logistical support to our members, in order to help them exhibit at selected shows and to enhance their marketing and sales efforts through seminars. In 2010 we are supporting French exhibitors at ITMA ASIA and we organize three seminars, in India, Syria and Turkey.
UCMTF also promotes our sector in order to attract young engineering and managerial talents.We focus our efforts towards the best universities and organize every two years a Forum to which we invite textile students from all over France. The last one took place in Mulhouse with more than 200 attendees.
We also focus on sharing information and implementing services among our members, making our network of Small and Middle size Enterprises very effective and proactive.
Last but not least, UCMTF through face to face meetings, interviews, press releases and our Web site www.ucmtf.com informs the international trade press about our initiatives.
In an interview on your website, as published in 2008, we find your comments drawing an encouraging picture of French machinery market then. How do you find things today?
Beginning of 2008, the economic environment was pretty good in general and, particularly for textile machinery. But, as you know, the crisis stroke mid of the year and as the industrial equipment sector is extremely cyclical, we had to face a brutal stop that no one could have expected so sudden and severe. The economic downturn was coupled with a financing crunch for investment projects and difficulties in obtaining credit insurance in some export countries.
The worst is now over and we are on the road to recovery. Asian countries like China and India have already rapidly recovered, the USA seem to emerge from the slump as Europe even if it is a bit slower here.
As the textile manufacturers operate closer to full capacity, they become progressively more confident about their future and investments start to pick up again. A positive factor is also the recent depreciation of the euro versus other major currencies, which should benefit to European exporters in the coming months. Another very important incentive to invest is the development of new products which need new production technologies.
Clearly, we see warmer prospects since the end of 2009. Spare parts business is getting back to usual levels, which means the utilization of the existing textile production facilities has improved, orders for new machines also and many new projects are under discussion. I expect at least a 10% rebound in the first semester of 2010 compared to the very low figures of 2009 and a more robust rebound end of 2010 and in 2011.
You have a number of members operating in different sectors of machinery. Amongst these which sector has robust growth prospective these days?
The general forecast above needs to be detailed and contrasted:
-by region: the crisis was rather short in China and other Asian countries which started to recover as early as spring 2009, the US are recovering and Europe following.
-by application sectors: technical textiles particularly the ones associated with infrastructure projects, the protection of the environment or energy savings will do better than textile for apparel and the home market.
In China, for example, on September 2008, the government announced a series of measures to encourage investment and consumption. One of the projects concerns doubling the investment in rail networks. It will need millions of square meters of geotextiles which increasingly evolve in the direction of nonwovens solutions. French machinery manufacturers are very well positioned for such investments.
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.