French Textile Machinery: It All Started With Jacquard

France is world-famous for its high fashion, and is in an eternal fight with the Italians for the
throne. The French textile machinery sector is known for its innovative and tailor-made products.
In an exclusive interview,

Textile World
Asia
spoke to Bruno Ameline, president of the French Textile Machinery
Manufacturers’ Association (UCMTF), about the role and the self-understanding of France’s textile
machinery industry.

UCMTF was founded in 1921. As a member of the European Committee of Textile Machinery
Manufacturers (CEMATEX), UCMTF takes part in the decisions made by CEMATEX for the organization of
the industry and textile machinery exhibitions such as ITMA and ITMA Asia + CITME. UCMTF’s member
companies design, produce and service specialized machines offering the latest innovations. “This
is in our DNA,” Ameline says. “Remember Jacquard, the most well-known textile machinery inventor —
he was French! Today, with our skills, expertise and experience, we develop creative and innovative
solutions for our customers.”


Targets And Objectives


UCMTF comprises 30 specialty textile machinery manufacturers that are, in Ameline’s words,
“often world leaders in their specific markets.” Their total annual consolidated turnover of 1
billion euros (US$1.3 billion) makes France the sixth-largest textile machinery exporter globally.
UCMTF members’ strengths include long fiber spinning, yarn twisting and texturing, heat-setting,
Jacquard and dobby, dyeing, nonwovens, and recycling technologies.


TWA: What are the targets of the association?


Ameline: The first objective of a trade association is to group, in a spirit of
professional solidarity, the companies operating in the same economic sector. This goes in line
with providing services to its members; being a special forum for their exchanges; defining the
industry’s strategy in its relations with the socioeconomic environment; and representing the
companies with the national, European and international authorities and trade organizations.

The second objective is to support our members’ international initiatives, in particular for
international events. In addition to the exhibitions directly organized by CEMATEX, the French
manufacturers participate in regional and national shows. UCMTF is instrumental in their selection
and provides substantial logistics assistance via the organization of French pavilions and their
promotion.

It can also organize symposiums, study missions and receptions of foreign delegations. As
the future of an industry is linked to its capacity to attract talented young people, engineers,
marketing and sales people and junior managers, UCMTF targets the best French and international
textile universities, and contributes to the funding of many projects.

UCMTF
 


Achievements



TWA

: What are the association’s achievements?

Ameline: We have set up specific task groups to study collectively important
strategies for our future, like how to deal with copycats or how to organize our spare-parts
distribution. We are also working on sustainable development. We have to design machines and
production processes that save energy, water and raw materials.

All this is embedded in our corporate strategies, and for it, we invest heavily in technical
expertise. To deliver sustainable profits for our companies, we have to act in the context of a
sustainable development framework for all our stakeholders and for our global community. Our
machines themselves have to be manufactured to leave the smallest possible footprint on the
environment. We have to put more emphasis on their eco-design, propose upgrading schemes and plan
how the materials used will be recycled at the end of their product life.

Click
here
to view Table 1: Traditional & Industrial Textile Machinery Suppliers


Going Global



TWA

: What are the main activities of UCMTF?

Ameline: We are very active in promoting our members’ offerings worldwide. At
major textile shows, UCMTF helps the smaller companies organize a national pavilion and promote
collectively our exhibitors.

UCMTF organizes seminars, quite often with the help of Ubifrance and the French local
representations, and invites the local textile companies to attend. Ubifrance is the French Agency
for International Business Development under the guidance of France’s Ministry for the Economy,
Industry & Employment. It promotes technologies, products, services and know-how from France,
and puts France-based professionals in contact with their international counterparts.

In the last 12 months, UCMTF has focused its efforts on the Indonesian and the Indian
markets. I am glad to report that the seminars that took place in Bandung, Indonesia, attracted
more than 150 Indonesian companies from Jogjakarta, Samarang, Solo and Surabaya. In March, in Delhi
and Surat, Gujarat, India, we attracted more than 300 Indian companies. Very interesting contacts
have been initiated, and it is now up to our companies to follow up on these. The next seminar will
be held, in the second semester, in Algeria.

Last but not least, UCMTF organizes press conferences and meetings with you, the textile
press. We trust you are an efficient and neutral link among the different textile stakeholders.

 
Laroche

Laroche SA is one of the market leaders for the production of machinery and complete lines
for recycling textile waste.


TWA

: What is the main focus for the president of UCMTF?

Ameline: Our president is the chairman and CEO of one of our member companies. Of
course, he has been selected by his peers for his leadership. His main focus is to maintain UCMTF’s
members’ high motivation in collective actions and to be the spokesman.


TWA

: How would you describe the difference between French and other textile machinery
products?


Ameline: We are not competing on the mass markets like cotton spinning, but we are
mostly small and medium-sized enterprises in design, production and servicing of specialized
machinery. As I said, R&D is in our DNA as well as our strategy to be, always and everywhere,
the best partners of our customers.


Market Situation



TWA

: How do you see the current market situation in general for textiles?

Ameline: There are two answers: For traditional textiles, the consumption is
growing steadily but slowly. In fact, the annual world consumption is quite stable from year to
year. For technical textiles, the growth rate is high. Technical textiles can to a greater extent
be substituted for other more expensive or heavier materials.


TWA

: How do you see the current market situation for your member companies?

Ameline: We are back to the best levels that we reached before the crisis that hit
the global economy from 2008 to 2010. In 2012, many of our companies achieved record sales and
order intakes. So we are very positive for all of 2013 and into 2014.


TWA

: Where currently are the most significant markets for your member companies?

Ameline: Geographically speaking, the differences are huge compared with what
prevailed before the crisis. For quite a while, our national market for apparel and home textiles
has been collapsing. More recently, it has been the case also for many of our historical European
markets. The markets have shifted to countries such as China and India and to specific places like
Turkey, but each market can be quite volatile. China has been less buoyant recently, but seems be
to coming back. India is quite active with the governmental and local investment incentives. For
technical textiles, which represent close to 40 percent of fiber consumption, the situation is more
balanced, as the production of these fast-growing products is approximately one-third each in
Europe, the Americas and Asia.

 
Andritz

Andritz Perfojet recently opened a laboratory facility equipped with a neXline spunlace
pilot line for the production of hydroentangled nonwovens.


TWA

: Is the euro distorting the markets and the business of your members?

Ameline: Well, the euro is quite high compared to the U.S. dollar and the Swiss
franc, but that may not be a real issue, as our members are offering machines that are really
specific. The low rate of the Chinese and Indian currencies may be more important as they make
copies even more attractive, at least in terms of prices.


The Future



TWA

: Where do you put the main focus on UCMTF’s activities in 2013?

Ameline: A real danger for our industry is copycats. So far, each company has had
its own policy. However, recently, within our association, we have established an active working
group on this strategic topic. We absolutely need to protect our intellectual property — it may be
our most important asset. We have collectively concluded that the counterfeited machines or parts
come from a small number of countries. We will sue the counterfeiters very aggressively. We have
strong arguments: our patents, our brands. Most of our customers who are our long-term partners
understand that this strategy is in their long-term best interest. We will become more and more
pro-active concerning the use of counterfeited parts as we cannot guarantee a machine that uses
counterfeited parts.


TWA

: Is this more of a European problem, too?

Ameline: Absolutely. Each company, the national associations, and CEMATEX and the
machinery shows have to work together on this strategic sensitive feature of our business.
Fortunately, in this war against copycats, we are receiving more and more support from the
governments, the international bodies and the judiciary systems.


TWA

: How important is the technical textiles/nonwovens market for your member companies?

Ameline: More and more important. The technical textiles market is growing at a
higher rate than traditional textiles. We have just come back from Techtextil in Frankfurt, where
some of our members were exhibiting. They have made very interesting contacts with technical
textiles producers who have many innovative projects. There are also many innovations in the
nonwovens industry that need specifically designed lines. We offer very interesting machines to
fill part of these lines. On top of that, we are particularly active in the fast-growing textile
recycling sector thanks to nonwovens technology.


TWA

: Do you think that any of your member companies are market leaders in certain segments?

Ameline: Yes! Our members are market leaders in many of their markets. They are
working with their customers as long-time partners. From the design of a new machine up to the
service, we want to offer our customers the opportunity to open new markets for their products and
to provide great opportunities both in terms of turnover and profitability. If this happens, we can
see our own future with optimism.


 

“The French manufacturers have already found many ways for success: fine-tuning machines,
finding new processes for individual machines, optimizing a whole production line,” says UCMTF
President Bruno Ameline. “The producers of apparel, home textiles and technical textiles are
extremely sensitive to energy, water and raw material savings; and they compare precisely the
investment costs and the savings. Often, their own desire to promote sustainable development is
supported by profitable returns on their investments.”





 
Ameline
UCMTF President Bruno Ameline




October/November/December 2013
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