President and CEO of RadiciGroup Angelo Radici was born in Bergamo, Italy, in 1951.
He has majored in economics and business studies, and immediately joined the Group managing some firms of RadiciGroup.
Being such a well-diversified group, to what extent is Radici focused on the textile and chemical industries?
"RadiciGroup's production chain extends from chemicals to textiles, encompassing plastics and synthetic yarn. Moreover, RadiciGroup is also in the business of energy and auxiliary activities. The main of RadiciGroup are: clothing, furnishings, textile flooring, automotive, electrical/electronic, sports (synthetic grass yarn, sportswear) and state-of-the-art technical materials for manufacturing and construction. The Group's key strength is vertical integration: its chemicals division produces polymers for the weaving of synthetic fabric and the manufacture of thermoplastics. RadiciGroup is primarily focused on the polyamide 6 and 66 (nylon) production chain."
How do you justify the saying: "We are the starting-point for developments in clothing"?
"Our vertical integration in the fibres sector (from the chemicals to the textiles) allows us to develop fibres and fabrics with specific characteristics suited to the individual applications of our customers. RadiciGroup can boast that it has been in the clothing business since the 1960s, when its first company specializing in fabric manufacturing was founded. Throughout the years, we have always strived to improve our performance in this sector by launching more and more competitive products to meet the needs of our very demanding customers. As regards our most recent products, we have just developed a range of polyamide 66 fabrics using high-tenacity yarn (""Raditeck Dyna""). These products are more abrasion resistant and are thus ideal for sportswear worn by motorcyclists, skiers and alpinists."
The post quota era has witnessed a lot of turmoil within the textile industry, further followed by the crucial and 'inconclusive' WTO talks in Hong Kong recently. What is your reading on the current global textile scenario?
In the textile industry, the challenge for a European group like ours is increasingly becoming the ability to move from large-volume production, where competition on price is devastating, to lower-volume-but higher value-added-production.
Could you take our readers back and trace Radici Group's history?
"The history of RadiciGroup started in Leffe, a small village in northern Italy in the province of Bergamo, the home of hundreds of blanket and rug merchants. My father Gianni Radici (who passed away in October 2005) founded his first textile business in 1946. The company specialized in the manufacture of wool blankets until the 1950s, when it decided to diversify its production and open a carpet mill to produce and export rugs. During the 1960s RadiciGroup expanded its production range in order to enter new markets; it started to make synthetic fabrics and polyester and polyamide 6 yarn. Then the production chain was completed by the addition of loom manufacturing (the future Itema Group). In the 1970s, RadiciGroup took its first steps towards globalization. It established its first foreign company, specializing in the production of synthetic carpets, in Belgium in 1972. Starting in the 1980s, the Group began to consolidate its position in the synthetic fibres market. It increased the vertical integration of its production process in 1986, by acquiring a large chemical plant in Novara, in northern Italy, to produce adipic acid, nitric acid and polyamide 6 polymers. At the same time, it expanded into the plastics market, by setting up plants for the production of engineering polymers. During the 1990s, the Group also entered the energy sector. Since 2000 RadiciGroup has been focusing on consolidating its businesses. Today RadiciGroup is an international group operating in 15 countries worldwide, with about 50 production and sales units, employing about 5,000 people. In 2005 total sales were approximately 1,100 million euros."
Innovation is in, so to what extent is innovation part of RadiciGroup's strategy?
"Innovation has always been a central theme throughout RadiciGroup. Since we operate in a market that has become more and more oriented toward specialties, we try to fulfil customer demands by looking for products with features specifically developed to meet the special needs of the final application sectors and by continually launching new products. In particular, our new products typically evolve from the synthesis of our analysis of end-user needs and our Research and Development work on product technologies in our laboratories. The labs are always ready to transform the technical indications from the market into new formulations and production trials. Therefore, our business is chiefly focused on process and product development aimed at keeping pace with the needs of our customers and the market. Ours is a business in which you can diversify, where the production process predominates over the individual product. In the Chemicals Business Unit, we are able to maintain research facilities for technological innovation. But instead of a large corporate research centre, we have decentralized laboratories at the various production sites. Considering the alarming increase in costs in western countries, many think that this strategy is more advantageous than a centralized research facility, since this way you stay in much closer contact with real world problems. Up to now our R&D efforts have made a distinct contribution to RadiciGroup growth, allowing us to keep up with the competition. The main reasons for this success are the flexibility and motivation of our personnel, together with the high degree of vertical integration of our products. But the times are changing and our challenges are getting tougher.Today, it is absolutely necessary for us to further optimize our work in the Research and Development area, by even more effective deployment of resources, better sharing of information and, if needed, looking for outside partners who have the same goals as ours."
What is your assessment of the home furnishings market? Who are its leading players and what trends do you perceive in the coming decade?
"We think the home furnishings market will continue to grow in Asia, while it should remain stable in Europe, thanks to demand in the contract sector, above all. The companies that will benefit the most from this market will be the ones that make the best investments in R&D. Regarding future trends, demand will be sustained by new antimicrobial, non-allergenic and anti-odour fibres, which prevent the proliferation of bacteria. Also very promising is the use of nanotechnology, which enables the production of self-cleaning yarn. Curtains of the future, for example, can be made with self-cleaning fabric that is activated by the heat of the sun. Flame retardant fibre will also be a hot product. For instance, in Southeastern Asia the new safety regulations will lead to greater demand for this kind of fibre."
Tell us about the new fibres or technologies being developed that will confirm Radici Group's winning strategy in the global marketplace?
RadiciGroup offers a broad range of technologically-advanced yarn for the newest applications. In particular, in the apparel market, we have recently launched: high-tenacity yarn ("Raditeck" line) made of polyamide 6 and 66 and rayon for a vast array of technical applications, such as sportswear (as well as airbags and UHP tyres); polyamide/spandex Taslan fancy yarn; super-opaque microfibre for swimwear and beachwear; 100% polyester microfibre for lingerie; chlorine- and heat-resistant spandex elastomers; "Radilon Sense" antibacterial and hypo-allergenic polyamide 6 and 66 yarns; antistatic and antibacterial protective fabrics for the medical sector; and warp-knit fabric for industrial use.
We understand that Radici Group makes its presence felt at most of the major trade fairs and events across the world. What has been your experience at these events?
Certainly, a positive experience. We try to participate in a dynamic way, by introducing specialized meetings with customers and the press, and complementing exhibitions with events aimed at promoting our image in the world. We really think trade shows are both sales and marketing opportunities, and we remain strongly focused on our priority: the customer.
What future technologies do you think will revolutionize the textile industry?
Probably nanotechnology applied to fibres.
What are your main geographic markets and how will your company assert its global leadership?
RadiciGroup's main market is Europe, which accounts for 70 percent of total sales. Our strategy for growth in the medium term is to focus on strengthening our presence in the developing markets such as Turkey, South America, Eastern Europe and obviously Asia.
Are there any plans for expansion of RadiciGroup in a particular field, or are any new plants being set up in other parts of the world?
"With regard to Asia, we have recently started a joint venture with the Modi Group in India to manufacture and market engineering plastics. The Chinese market is also very promising, so we are trying to acquire or set up new companies there. In 2005, the Group invested about 60 million euros in production, quality, services and cost reducing measures. For 2006, we have budgeted an additional 40 million euros for the modernization of synthetic fibre production plants and the completion of the Novara chemical factory. As far as other potential investments go, still under consideration is the acquisition of Nylstar, a joint venture between SNIA and Rhodia and one of Europe's leading nylon producers. We believe it is vital to our strategy to strengthen our leadership position in Europe in the synthetic fibres sector."