reat entrepreneurs and companies that have adapted to change in the global marketplace
highlight the story of textiles in the 21st century. There has been a dramatic shift in the
development of textile mills throughout Asia and swift change in the traditional markets of Europe
and the United States. With this change, the demand for textile technology and the challenges the
shifting markets present have dictated that textile machinery manufacturers be flexible, invest in
development and grow their businesses globally. The following is an interview with one such
industrial leader, Cavaliere Miro Radici, chairman of Italy-based ITEMA Group.
Cavaliere Miro Radici, chairman of Italy-based ITEMA Group
: With Itema’s presence in more than 90 countries with approximately 2,890 employees, what is
the most serious challenge in growing your global business?
Radici: The Itema Group stands out for being the only group in the textile
machinery industry that is present in all segments of the market — looms, spoolers, accessories and
electronics — having seven integrated companies capable of supplying products with an
That’s why I like to call it a high-tech group. Our strength lies in introducing
technological growth in the countries where we are active. In today’s turbulent and complex global
context, our group has proven its ability to face up to and meet the challenges of the global
market, serenely accepting the challenges posed by competition from China and the Far East as a
whole. We’re now focusing on the development of new technology and improving our problem-solving
capacity for our clients through far-reaching, continuous customer and technical service.
And that’s not all: We’ve adopted a strategy of growth based on industrial integration —
both vertical and horizontal — letting us serve all areas of the markets and have the right
structural size to meet each new challenge that arises.
: As Itema Group was formed, what was your vision for investing and bringing together such
strong brands in textile technology?
Radici: I’ve always been convinced that it’s only by creating a system that we can
succeed in the global market. But what does “creating a system” actually mean? For us, it means
creating synergy; working as a group; recognizing our individual merits under the aegis of a shared
industrial policy; adopting homogenous strategies; and coordinating the companies to revive
production, distribution and service. It also means gradually introducing a new business culture
or, to use a different concept, is an innovative way of dealing with the market and our customers,
through reciprocal dialog and a far less fragmented approach to the supply chain.
Radici pours celebratory champagne at the opening of Itema (Shanghai) Textile Machinery Co.
: In developing Itema Weaving, what led you to invest in the four brands – Somet, Sulzer
Textil, Vamatex and Itema Shanghai?
Radici: My family’s always played a leading role in the textile industry and,
later on, that of textile machinery. When we founded Somet more than 30 years ago, followed by our
acquisition of Vamatex, we created the right conditions for global success and the evolution of the
entire textile machinery group. Our acquisition of Sultex, another classic brand, was a fundamental
step for the Itema Group’s growth thanks to the synergy thus created, letting us strengthen our
technological leadership in the weaving machine sector.
Our clear willingness to accept the challenge of globalization and to be leaders in the
world’s largest market led to the Itema Shanghai project, with the opening of a cutting-edge
textile machinery pole entirely dedicated to the production and implementation of solutions for the
Chinese and Asian markets.
This has allowed us to compete with greater force on the global market, without having to
limit our activities to exports alone. We are thus fully convinced of the need to be a leading name
on the world’s largest market today. This is the shape and ideal dimension of Itema Weaving, a
well-organized team that’s ready and willing to take on and solve today’s continuously changing
problems and challenges.
TW Asia: With Itema Spinning and the Savio brand, how have global market demands
affected technology developments such as the POLAR I?
Radici: Winding technology always involves a small number of essential mechanical
elements, but drives, operation times and on-line controls are carried out electronically – that is
with simple settings using a computer keyboard to control the entire machine.
Field experiences, gathered from the sale of nearly 250,000 heads of ORION winders, have
confirmed the positive choices made, but they have also provided developments and innovation during
the evolution stage, which our customers and the products themselves require. Savio has attempted
to implement suggestions by introducing to the market the new POLAR Automatic Winder, which we were
driven to design based on input from customers worldwide.
The shift in textile production to the Middle East and, in particular, the Far East, has
also contributed to determining and developing the technical features of POLAR.
In fact, countries developing their textile industries, on the one hand, operate in
difficult climate conditions, which are extremely different than European standards, using
personnel for operation and maintenance who are not completely technically qualified, with a high
turnover. And on the other hand, they need to produce high-quality products, especially for export.
Furthermore, competition between these countries has led to a race to produce, which puts
textile machinery under even greater pressure, minimizing maintenance times to guarantee deliveries
of the end product.
: Itema has a growing global presence both in service and manufacturing. With so much focus
on China, how do you balance the development of China with other growing global markets?
Radici: The decision to set up Itema dates back to the year 2000 – the aim being
to create a strong image for all our companies on all the world markets, without exception. We’re
aware that our companies don’t end at the production site gates, but go much further. Even before
the China project was perfected, we had taken great pains over other crucial projects, such as the
creation of the new Itema India branch in Coimbatore
India Ltd. Inauguration,”
TW Asia, November/December 2005). Although basically a commercial operation
at the moment offering technical service and spare parts, we envision it may become our base for
further expansion in production on this fast growing market in the years to come.
Dancers entertained visitors at the inauguration of Itema India Ltd.
: What other markets [outside of China] do you find attractive; and do you approach each
market separately with regard to products, technology and possible manufacturing?
Radici: To sum up, the Itema Group is turning its attention to countries like
Iran, Pakistan, Eastern Europe and Turkey — where we are already market leaders — as well as to
India, needless to say, which has now become our third most important market. The current global
scenario requires that we operate in every corner of the world, offering the same high-tech
contents, while respecting the individual needs of each market.
Our strategy is therefore to ensure we have a wide enough offering of products and services
to satisfy every market and customers’ different needs, while at the same time guaranteeing the
same high standards of quality and reliability as in our top-of-the-range products.
: If a textile mill owner asked you for advice regarding what market segments he should
invest in, what would you counsel?
Radici: I’m fully convinced that businesses in the textile machinery industry must
embrace the idea that their strengths in the past won’t necessarily be the same in the future. In a
global context where the key word has become ”change,” we must accept that the equation “capacity
for change equals added value” has become an indisputable truth.
Only those organizations that are capable of shedding their skin quickly enough can ensure
their competitiveness and will survive in today’s market. This is the best investment that any
modern businessman can — and must — make today.
: Looking into the future, what do you see for the Itema Group and the global textile
Radici: European textile machinery manufacturers will only stay on the European
market for as long as there is a European textile trade. Given that I have no doubt whatsoever
about the future of the European textile industry, it goes without saying that we shall continue to
be there, offering the industry our efficient services, competitive technological solutions, and
all the experience and reliability that no other company comes anywhere close to providing.