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(c) STF Swiss Textile & Fashion Institute
23.02.2021

Sustainability Management in Textiles - Interview with Sonja Amport, Director of STF

Contact restrictions, mandatory use of face masks, home office: The Coronavirus has turned our daily lives upside down and reduced public life almost to zero. The impact of the pandemic has even further in-creased the existing pressure for action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. And that is why, it is not surprising that the issues of sustainability, climate protection and digitization are gaining ground in the industry's and consumers' awareness. New management qualities are required.

Textination talked to Sonja Amport, Director of the STF Swiss Textile & Fashion Institute, about the new training course CAS Sustainability Management in Textiles. After career experiences in the industry and in associations, the business economist with a master's degree in International Management has been contributing her knowledge of textiles, education, business administration, as well as marketing and sales to STF with vigor and passion since 2015.

Contact restrictions, mandatory use of face masks, home office: The Coronavirus has turned our daily lives upside down and reduced public life almost to zero. The impact of the pandemic has even further in-creased the existing pressure for action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. And that is why, it is not surprising that the issues of sustainability, climate protection and digitization are gaining ground in the industry's and consumers' awareness. New management qualities are required.

Textination talked to Sonja Amport, Director of the STF Swiss Textile & Fashion Institute, about the new training course CAS Sustainability Management in Textiles. After career experiences in the industry and in associations, the business economist with a master's degree in International Management has been contributing her knowledge of textiles, education, business administration, as well as marketing and sales to STF with vigor and passion since 2015.

The history of the STF Swiss Textile & Fashion Institute began in 1881. In this year Pablo Picasso was born and Billy the Kid was shot. The Tales of Hoffmann by Jacques Offenbach was premiered and Thomas Alva Edison built the world's first electric power station. The Breuninger department store opened at Stuttgart's market square and Rudolph Karstadt's first store in Wismar.
What led to the foundation of STF during this period of time and what values do you still feel committed to today?

In 1881, the textile industry in Switzerland was thriving. Companies in the sector of spinning, weaving, finishing and others burgeoned. However, there was a shortage of trained specialists who could have operated or repaired the machines. This is why the companies teamed up and founded the STF Swiss Textile & Fashion Institute - a place for education and training of specialists for the Swiss textile and clothing industry. For this reason, the STF is still organized as a cooperative today. Therefore, we are still committed to the values of competence, customer orientation, innovation, inspiration and passion to this day.

If you had to introduce your educational institution in 100 words to someone who doesn't know the Schweizerische Textilfachschule: How does the school define itself today and on which fields of activity does it focus?
The STF Swiss Textile & Fashion Institute stands for sustainable educational competence covering the entire life cycle of a textile, fashion or lifestyle product. With the "STF-LAB", the STF positions itself as an educational service provider with three business fields. The core field is "Education", where the STF offers numerous training and further education courses, from basic education to bachelor's and master's degrees. In the "Incubator & Makerspace" (STF Studio), the main focus is on shared infrastructure, mutual inspiration and the thereby together achieved progress. In the third business field, "Think Tank & Consulting", the school acts as a think tank, where experts can be "hired" and part-time management is offered.

Keyword life-long education: What further education programs does the STF offer for the textile and clothing industry, even after a successful degree?
Which industry sectors and which countries are you focusing on?

Firstly, we offer a variety of informal modular courses for the textile and clothing industry as well as retail, in which one can achieve a good overview of a specific topic within 45 lessons. Such as: Welding & Bonding, Smart & Functional Textiles, Start-up in Fashion or the Steiger Stitch Module, where you learn to program your own knitting designs and then knit them on a "Shared Machine" at STF. We also offer two-week intensive summer courses each year, for example in Sustainable Fashion Design. In terms of formal education, I can recommend our master’s program in Product Management Fashion & Textile in German or our two CAS in Sustainability Management in Textiles. Once with face-to-face classes in German and once via e-learning in English. At the moment, we are focusing our programs on Germany, Austria and Switzerland (DACH region). Our internationalization strategy was abruptly stopped due to Covid-19. With our English master's programs, we were focusing particularly on the Indian and Chinese markets We are now strategically repositioning ourselves with English language courses and will start marketing again from 2022 onwards. The goal is to provide flexible, modular master's programs with a high e-learning component, so that costs remain moderate and travelling can be reduced.

Sustainability has changed from a buzzword to a matter of course: The latest OTTO Trend Study even says, that sustainable consumption has entered the mainstream society. What does this mean for the textile and clothing industry? Are the companies positioned in terms of personnel in such a way, that they have professionally incorporated this complex of topics into their service portfolio?
Swiss companies have recognized, that they only have a chance against foreign competitors, if they are capable of innovation, consistently operating in a niche and can stand out through sustainable production. Sustainability is therefore an absolutely central USP. With this in mind, many companies are dealing this and, of course, also send their employees to us for further training.

The STF offers - so far being the only one in the German-speaking area - an internationally recognized further education in the field of Sustainability Management in Textiles as a Certificate of Advanced Studies CAS. Which sub-areas from design, production, process optimization to marketing does the certificate cover?
The STF offers the internationally recognized University of Applied Sciences certificate in collaboration with SUPSI, the Scuola Universitaria Professionale della Svizzera Italiana in Ticino.

In the degree program, we look from a holistic perspective and at the entire value chain of a textile, i.e. from design to production and to marketing, global challenges, where sustainability acts as a multilateral solution. In addition, the normative and strategic management of sustainability, topics related to social responsibility as well as initiatives and standards for the textile industry are highlighted. An important element of the CAS are raw materials and products, i.e. not only sustainable fibers but also fabrics or the use of chemical agents. Last but not least, aspects around biodiversity, animal welfare, marketing, labeling as well as possible future scenarios and best practice examples are highlighted.

Who could be interested in the CAS Sustainability Management in Textiles and why? What impact can the certificate have on a career?
The CAS is attractive for managers who are generally concerned about the strategic orientation of a company, as well as for specialist employees in design, product development, purchasing, sales or quality management who are responsible for operationalizing the sustainability strategy. And of course we always welcome young designers with their own fashion labels willing to break new, sustainable grounds and to stand out from the rest. The push in professional life is strongly related to one's own personality. So far, however, all graduates have found attending the further education program to be extremely beneficial for their own career paths.

What about the formal aspects of the CAS? For example, are there selection criteria, by when do you have to register, what does the curriculum look like, and what are the fees for attendants?
We start the educational courses at the end of August each year. Early registration, preferably by mid-May, is recommended to secure a place. In the face-to-face course, 120 lessons take place in Zurich and Ticino, costs of CHF 5,900. -, including teaching materials and examination fees, can be expected. In the e-learning course, with a few days of on-site attendance, the content is taught synchronously by Microsoft Teams, usually by the same lecturers. Here, the fee is CHF 5,600.

These costs do not include personal expenses as well as travel and accommodation costs.

Those who are interested can find the facts & figures on our homepage (available in German only):
(www.stf.ch/kurse/cas or www.stf.ch/kurse/cas-online)

The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly shown us the limitations of mobility. How have you responded to this as an educational institution?
Physical limitations can easily be overcome with e-learning. One of the reasons why our classes continued regularly throughout the pandemic period. For the period after Covid-19, we are planning, in addition to face-to-face study modules, further online-only seminars, such as our CAS-Online. These will be offered increasingly in English as well. We are also currently testing possible forms of hybrid lessons. Meaning, while some are educated on-site in Zurich, people who have to travel a long way, such as those from Germany, Austria and Switzerland (DACH region), can attend the lessons virtually and live from a distance.

The past year has left its mark on the textile and apparel industry. When you look back on a year of "state of emergency" - what positive experiences do you take with you, where do you see a need for improvement?
It was definitely a year of a state of emergency! One positive aspect is, that we at STF were ready and able to teach online from day one of the lockdown. The learners, students and my team all showed the greatest understanding and flexibility. But as an institute in the textile, fashion and lifestyle sector, teaching also thrives on visual materials. Being able to feel and smell the yarns and fabrics, as well as to discuss the experiences in person, are important learning experiences. It is definitely a challenge to implement such key learning elements online. Overall, Covid-19 has catapulted us forward as an institution in regards to the topic of digitization by what feels like two years. However, I would be grateful if we could return to normality as soon as possible and to an everyday life with "less distance".

Breaking new ground means willingness to make decisions, overcoming fears - and thus courage to fail. Not every project can succeed. In retrospect, which decision that you made for the STF profile are you particularly pleased about?
I'm proud to say that most of the projects we tackle are successful. There is almost always a way. Sometimes, as you move forward, you just have to adjust the direction a bit to get where you want to go. A groundbreaking innovation was certainly the modularization of (almost) all degree programs. Students can therefore benefit from a wide range of choices and create their own curriculum.

A second decision I'm grateful for was that, as a small institute, we invested a lot in expanding our digital capabilities and infrastructure at a very early stage, which we are now benefiting from. With very well-trained lecturers and a learning platform, a VM platform and modern 3D software in various subject areas, we consider ourselves a pioneer in e-learning and digitalization across Europe. Capabilities, which also pay off in terms of sustainability.

The interview was conducted by Ines Chucholowius, Managing Director of Textination GmbH

 

Further information:

Photo: Pixabay
16.02.2021

Carbon with Multiple Lives: Bringing Innovations in Carbon Fiber Recycling to Market

When it comes to the future of motorized mobility, everyone talks about the power drive: How much e-car, how much combustion engine can the environment tolerate and how much do people need? At the same time, new powertrains place ineased demands not only on the engine, but also on its housing and the car body: Carbon fibers are often used for such demanding applications. Like the powertrain of the future, the materials on the vehicle should also be environmentally friendly. That is why recycling of carbon fibers is required. Institutes of the Zuse Community have developed solutions for this.

Carbon fibers consist almost completely of pure carbon. It is extracted from the plastic polyacrylonitrile at 1,300 degrees Celsius, using a lot of energy. The advantages of carbon fibers: They have almost no dead weight, are enormously break-resistant and sturdy. These properties are needed, for example, in the battery box of electric vehicles in structural components of a car body.

When it comes to the future of motorized mobility, everyone talks about the power drive: How much e-car, how much combustion engine can the environment tolerate and how much do people need? At the same time, new powertrains place ineased demands not only on the engine, but also on its housing and the car body: Carbon fibers are often used for such demanding applications. Like the powertrain of the future, the materials on the vehicle should also be environmentally friendly. That is why recycling of carbon fibers is required. Institutes of the Zuse Community have developed solutions for this.

Carbon fibers consist almost completely of pure carbon. It is extracted from the plastic polyacrylonitrile at 1,300 degrees Celsius, using a lot of energy. The advantages of carbon fibers: They have almost no dead weight, are enormously break-resistant and sturdy. These properties are needed, for example, in the battery box of electric vehicles in structural components of a car body.

The Saxon Textile Research Institute (STFI), for instance, is currently working with industrial partners on combining the static-mechanical strengths of carbon fibers with vibration damping properties to improve the housings of electric motors in cars. The project, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, is aimed at developing hybrid nonwovens that contain other fibers, in addition to carbon fiber, as a reinforcement. "We want to combine the advantages of different fiber materials and thereby develop a product that is optimally tailored to the requirements", explains Marcel Hofmann, head of department of Textile Lightweight Construction at STFI.

The Chemnitz researchers would therefore complement previous nonwoven solutions. They look back on 15 years of working with recycled carbon fibers. The global annual demand for the high-value fibers has almost quadrupled in the past decade, according to the AVK Industry Association to around 142,000 t most recently. "Increasing demand has brought recycling more and more into focus", says Hofmann. According to him, carbon fiber waste is available for about one-tenth to one-fifth of the price of primary fibers, but they still need to be processed. The key issue for the research success of recycled fibers is competitive applications. STFI has found these not only in cars, but also in the sports and leisure sector as well as in medical technology, for example in components for computer tomography. "While metals or glass fibers cast shadows as potential competing products, carbon does not interfere with the image display and can fully exploit its advantages", explains Hofmann.
 
Using Paper Know-How
If recycled carbon fibers can pass through the product cycle again, this significantly improves their carbon footprint. At the same time it applies: The shorter the carbon fibers, the less attractive they are for further recycling. With this in mind, the Cetex Research Institute and the Papiertechnische Stiftung (PTS), both members of the Zuse Community, developed a new process as part of a research project that gives recycled carbon fibers, which previously seemed unsuitable, a second product life. "While classic textile processes use dry processing for the already very brittle recycled carbon fibers in fiber lengths of at least 80 mm, we dealt with a process from the paper industry that processes the materials wet. At the end of the process, in very simplified terms, we obtained a laminar mat made of recycled carbon fibers and chemical fibers", says Cetex project engineer Johannes Tietze, explaining the process by which even 40 mm short carbon fibers can be recycled into appealing intermediates.

The resulting product created in a hot pressing process serves as the base material for heavy-duty structural components. In addition, the mechanical properties of the semi-finished products were improved by combining them with continuous fiber-reinforced tapes. The researchers expect the recycled product to compete with glass-fiber-reinforced plastics, for example in applications in rail and vehicle construction. The results are now being incorporated into further research and development in
the cooperation network of Ressourcetex, a funded association with 18 partners from industry and science.

Successful Implementation in the Automotive Industry
Industrial solutions for the recycling of carbon fiber production waste are being developed at the Thuringian Institute of Textile and Plastics Research (TITK). Several of these developments were industrially implemented with partners at the company SGL Composites in Wackersdorf, Germany. The processing of the so-called dry waste, mainly from production, is carried out in a separate procedure. "Here, we add the opened fibers to various processes for nonwoven production", says the responsible head of the department at TITK, Dr. Renate Lützkendorf . In addition to developments for applications e.g. in the BMW i3 in the roof or rear seat shell, special nonwovens and processes for the production of Sheet Molding Compounds (SMC) were established at TITK. These are thermoset materials consisting of reaction resins and reinforcing fibers, which are used to press fiber-plastic composites. This was used, for example, in a component for the C-pillar of the BMW 7 Series. "In its projects, TITK is primarily focusing on the development of more efficient processes and combined procedures to give carbon fiber recycling materials better opportunities in lightweight construction applications, also in terms of costs", says Lützkendorf. The focus is currently on the use of CF recycled fibers in thermoplastic processes for sheet and profile extrusion. "The goal is to combine short- and continuous-fiber reinforcement in a single, high-performance process step."

1) Since February 1st, 2021, Dr.-Ing. Thomas Reussmann succeeds Dr.-Ing. Renate Lützkendorf, who retired 31 January.

Source:

Zuse Community

(c) Pixabay
15.12.2020

Protection against Corona: Materials research provides findings at institutes of the Zuse Community

As the year draws to a close, expectations are growing that protection against COVID-19 will soon be available. Until this is the case for large sections of the population, the successes achieved in research and industry to protect against the virus in 2020 offer a good starting point in the fight against corona and beyond. At institutes in the Zuse community, progress have been made not only in medical but also in materials research.

As the year draws to a close, expectations are growing that protection against COVID-19 will soon be available. Until this is the case for large sections of the population, the successes achieved in research and industry to protect against the virus in 2020 offer a good starting point in the fight against corona and beyond. At institutes in the Zuse community, progress have been made not only in medical but also in materials research.

These successes in materials research include innovations in the coating of surfaces. "In the wake of the pandemic, the demand for antiviral and antimicrobial surfaces has risen sharply, and we have successfully intensified our research in this area," explains Dr. Sebastian Spange, Head of Surface Technology at the Jena research institute INNOVENT. He expects to see an increasing number of products with antiviral surfaces in the future. "Our tests with model organisms show that an appropriate coating of surfaces works", emphasizes Spange. The spectrum of techniques used by INNOVENT includes flame treatment, plasma coating and the so-called Sol-Gel process, in which organic and inorganic substances can be combined in one layer at relatively low temperatures. According to Spange, materials for the coatings can be antibacterial metal compounds as well as natural substances with antiviral potential.

Nonwovens produced for mask manufacturers
In 2020, the textile expertise of numerous institutes in the Zuse community ensured that application-oriented research could prove its worth in the practical fight against pandemics. After the shortage of mask supplies in Germany at the beginning of the pandemic, textile research institutes reacted to the shortage by jumping into the breach. The Saxon Textile Research Institute (STFI), for example, converted its research facilities to the production of nonwovens to supply German and European manufacturers of particle filtering protective masks. "From March to November 2020, we supplied nonwovens to various manufacturers in order to provide the best possible support for mask production and thus help contain the pandemic. At a critical time for industry and the population, we were able to help relieve critical production capacity - an unaccustomed role for a research institute, but one we would assume again in similar situations," explains Andreas Berthel, Managing Commercial Director of STFI.

Development of reusable medical face masks
For the improvement of everyday as well as medical face masks the German Institutes for Textile and Fiber Research (DITF) are working on this project. In cooperation with an industrial partner, they are currently developing in Denkendorf, among other things, reusable medical face masks made of high-performance precision fabric using Jacquard weaving technology. The multiple use avoids waste and possible supply bottlenecks.

There are regulations for all types of masks, now also for everyday masks. At Hohenstein, compliance with standards for masks is checked. A new European guideline defines minimum requirements for the design, performance evaluation, labelling and packaging of everyday masks. "As a testing laboratory for medical products, we test the functionality of medical masks from microbiological-hygienic and physical aspects", explains Hohenstein's Managing Director Prof. Dr. Stefan Mecheels. In this way, Hohenstein supports manufacturers, among other things, with technical documentation to prove the effectiveness and safety. Respiratory protection masks (FFP 1, FFP 2 and FFP 3) have been tested at the Plastics Centre (SKZ) in Würzburg since the middle of this year. Among other things, inhalation and exhalation resistance and the passage of particles are tested. In addition, SKZ itself has entered into mask research. In cooperation with a medical technology specialist, SKZ is developing an innovative mask consisting of a cleanable and sterilizable mask carrier and replaceable filter elements.

ILK tests for mouth-nose protection
The fight against Corona is won by the contributions of humans: Of researchers in laboratories, of developers and manufacturers in the Industry as well as from the citizens on the street.
Against this background, the Institute for Air and Refrigeration Technology (ILK) in Dresden has carried out investigations into the permeability of the mouth and nose protection (MNS), namely on possible impairments when breathing through the mask as well as the protective function of everyday masks. Result: Although the materials used for the mouth-nose protection are able to retain about 95 percent of the exhaled droplets, "under practical aspects and consideration of leakages" it can be assumed that about 50 percent to 70 percent of the droplets enter the room, according to the ILK. If the mask is worn below the nose only, it can even be assumed that about 90 percent of the exhaled particles will enter the room due to the large proportion of nasal breathing. This illustrates the importance of tight-fitting and correctly worn mouth and nose protection. "On the other hand, from a physical point of view there are no reasons against wearing a mask", ILK managing director Prof. Dr. Uwe Franzke emphasizes. The researchers examined the CO2 content in the air we breathe as well as the higher effort required for breathing and based this on the criterion of overcoming the pressure loss. "The investigations on pressure loss showed a small, but practically irrelevant increase," explains Franzke.

The complete ILK report "Investigations on the effect of mouth and nose protection (MNS)" is available here.

Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH / Jens Liebchen (c) Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH / Jens Liebchen
08.01.2019

SLEEP! THE FUTURE FORUM

  • HEIMTEXTIL IS ALREADY SHOWING TODAY HOW WE CAN SLEEP BETTER TOMORROW

According to doctors specialising in sleep, we already know almost everything there is to know about sleep. However, studies show that the quality of this regeneration process is deteriorating all the time. How can we prevent this from happening? The upcoming Heimtextil (8-11 January, Frankfurt am Main) will supply solutions to this with the new ‘Sleep! The Future Forum’. Here, international experts will present the latest findings and textile innovations for a restful night. The world’s leading trade fair for home and contract textiles brings together around 800 producers of textiles in the bed segment. Of these, 140 international industry leaders will be represented in the ‘Smart Bedding’ segment alone in hall 11.0, which will be presenting the latest sleep systems, mattresses, bedding and smart sleep technology. In addition, the new ‘Sleep!

  • HEIMTEXTIL IS ALREADY SHOWING TODAY HOW WE CAN SLEEP BETTER TOMORROW

According to doctors specialising in sleep, we already know almost everything there is to know about sleep. However, studies show that the quality of this regeneration process is deteriorating all the time. How can we prevent this from happening? The upcoming Heimtextil (8-11 January, Frankfurt am Main) will supply solutions to this with the new ‘Sleep! The Future Forum’. Here, international experts will present the latest findings and textile innovations for a restful night. The world’s leading trade fair for home and contract textiles brings together around 800 producers of textiles in the bed segment. Of these, 140 international industry leaders will be represented in the ‘Smart Bedding’ segment alone in hall 11.0, which will be presenting the latest sleep systems, mattresses, bedding and smart sleep technology. In addition, the new ‘Sleep! The Future Forum’ in the foyer of hall 11.0 will provide a platform for knowledge transfer, exchange of experiences and networking relating to a good night’s sleep. International experts will provide an overview of the current state of research and the latest findings on the ‘Future of sleep’ in the four subject areas of digital, sport, hotels and sustainability.

‘We sleep too little’
It is not without reason that many experts are declaring sleep to be the latest lifestyle trend after nutrition and fitness: numerous current studies prove that we are sleeping ever more badly despite increasing knowledge. ‘You don’t always notice sleep deprivation straightaway but you do become less attentive’, says Prof. Ingo Fietze, Head of the Interdisciplinary Sleep Medicine Centre at the Berliner Charité and chair of the German Sleep Foundation. At ‘Sleep! The Future Forum’, Fietze will talk about ‘The power engine of sleep’. ‘From a scientific point of view, we already know a great deal about our night’s sleep. The big problem is that we don’t sleep enough and don’t give sleep the importance it deserves’, says Fietze.

In order to improve our night’s sleep, there are now a number of smart gadgets available: intelligent pillows, noise-reducing high-tech earplugs and sleep trackers – these are all designed to help banish bad sleeping habits and consolidate healthy ones. Given that consumers can quickly get lost in this maze, the Schlafonauten, who call themselves Germany's biggest YouTube channel on the topic of sleep, are ready to help. ‘We test products that promise a calmer night to see how effective they are’, says Schlafonaut Fabian Dittrich. He will present the latest test results in the knowledge forum as part of an interview (‘Smart innovations – the practical test’).

Sleep like a (sports) professional
Another speaker knows the sleeping habits of professional athletes very well: Nick Littlehales, sleep coach of five-time World Cup footballerCristiano Ronaldo and four-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton, will present his findings from his 22 years as a sleep coach for top athletes (‘Redefining Sleep in Elite Sport’). ‘Athletes and professionals in world sports are facing the growing demands of a globalised 24-hour society’, says Littlehales. This is also increasingly true for non-athletes, says Littlehales, who is certain that his sleep tips for professionals will also be useful for normal mortals.

The night's rest as an experience
Sleeperoo founder Karen Löhnert will show that you can sleep comfortably in the most unusual places during her lecture ‘Sleeperoo - The Night, The Place and You’ at the ‘Sleep!’ forum. She will be introducing the world’s first ‘Design Sleep Cube’. The sleeping capsule known from the start-up TV show ‘Höhle des Löwen’ is currently nominated for the German Innovation Award 2019. It allows the user to spend the night in exotic places such as a museum, a bunker or a pier in the Baltic Sea. ‘I'm a big fan of adventure nights, from tree houses to tepees; but unfortunately I've only been able to find a few local accommodation offers of this type and they don't come with quality guarantees’, says Löhnert. With her sleep cube, she wants to make sleep experiences with a high standard of amenities possible for the first time. In the Sleep Cube, the user lies on a comfortable 1.60 metre wide and 2 metre long mattress, while three large panoramic windows and the roof provide a view of the surroundings and the sky.

Even classic hotel stays have now become a focus of research. Vanessa Borkmann from the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO will talk about the importance of sleep in hotels in Frankfurt am Main in January (‘The importance of sleep during a hotel stay – a special experience thanks to innovation’). ‘Healthy sleep is particularly important in hotels’, says Borkmann, who wants to show how the effect of rest in the hotel bed can be improved, for example through the design of the sleeping environment, the behaviour of the guest themselves or technical innovations.

Sustainable sleep
More and more people are using natural materials and sustainably produced textiles in their bedrooms. The lecture block ‘Sleep & Sustainability’ is therefore dedicated to the material properties of textiles and the quality of their processing as well as the auditability of sustainable procurement and production standards. This is how Hendrik Albers, buyer of home and household textiles, bedding & mattresses at OTTO, and Dr Juliane Hedderich, managing director of the Down and Feather Associations in Mainz, describe the growing importance of nature conservation, environmental protection and animal welfare in the bedroom (‘Sustainable good advice - Convincing with the right arguments when it comes to animal welfare and quality’). ‘In the past, criteria such as weight, moisture wicking and filling power has played an almost exclusive role in the choice of bedding, but now the ethical component is increasingly coming into play’, says Hedderich. Consumers are placing ever greater importance on certificates and seals which prove that the processed down and feathers did not originate from live plucking or foie gras production. Hedderich and OTTO buyer Albers present the quality seal ‘DOWNPASS 2017’, which guarantees controlled animal husbandry and adherence to animal protection criteria.

06.11.2018

CHINESE ENGAGEMENT IN EAST AFRICA UNDERGOING CHANGE

Cooperation and local production the new trend

Cooperation and local production the new trend

Nairobi (GTAI) - China dominates infrastructure projects and the construction industry in East Africa. But now the Kingdom of the Middle is also intensifying its commitment in trade and industry.

The Chinese advance in East Africa is breathtakingly fast, focused, efficient and highly successful. The approach is simple: one makes a business proposal that meets the wishes of the decision-makers, brings everything with you, including financing, and the project will be brought out with Confucian efficiency.

Because the customer is satisfied, follow-up orders are being placed. And the more orders there are, the more Chinese activities are there that no longer have anything to do with the original project: Trade, housing construction and business start-ups. And the more the debt with Chinese financiers rises, the more their interest grows in ensuring that the debt can be serviced.

China is fast - on its terms
In Kenya, the Chinese breakthrough came with the comparatively short road from Nairobi to Thika. The international donor community was willing to finance a road construction project, but only at the usual terms, such as regular feasibility studies and tenders, but at favorable interest rates. During the term of office of the former acting President at the time, all this would not have been completed.

Meanwhile, the Chinese made a different offer: shortest construction time and commercial credit with free hand and political backing. Residence permits were issued in an urgent procedure, and work had already begun before necessary expropriations had been completed. Everything was brought along, even truck drivers and food. Deliveries were made on time for the end of the President's term of office.

If customers are satisfied, there are follow-up orders. For example, a new railway - the favorite project of the current Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta - is also being built, financed and operated by the Chinese. The usual donors, such as the World Bank, had previously declined because the project was unlikely to pay off economically. Thanks to Chinese commitment, the first route from Mombasa to Nairobi was completed in time for the presidential election campaign and could be marketed as a political success. The fact that, in the opinion of critics, that the section was three times as expensive as necessary, was not contested by the voters.

Chinese appearance in the ripening process
Chinese companies had learned a lot from the first road project: They now know what the Kenyan business world and industry can and can't do, what they need, how they tick, how to do business in Kenya and how to deal with bureaucracy and widespread corruption, what cartels and monopolies one has to fear and how to deal with them if necessary.

Thanks to this knowledge and preferential treatment in work permits, Chinese construction and trading companies were able to gain a foothold within a very short space of time. And the more Kenyan government orders go to Chinese companies and the more Chinese traders gain a foothold in Kenya, the more Chinese goods flood the country.

But not only that: Chinese companies have been founded to manufacture locally. In addition, hordes of Kenyan workers are employed or Kenyan goods are being purchased if they are cheaper and/or better, or, logistically speaking, can they be procured more quickly. Kenyan companies and workers have also learned what is important to the Chinese partners - a learning and maturing process on both sides. Some Chinese people have married local and want to stay.

State acquisition perfected
Meanwhile, Chinese companies have virtually "perfected" their government procurement, reports the leading Kenyan daily newspaper "The Nation" with a sarcastic undertone: Chinese acquirers use an English first name that can be remembered and pronounced and, accompanied by a politically well-connected "fixer", visit together a cabinet secretary or the head of a semi-state company and make a proposal for a major infrastructure project combined with the promise to provide the financing.

A "Memorandum of Understanding" is then signed very quickly, followed by a commercial contract with the responsible ministry. Then only the Ministry of Finance has to sign the loan agreement and the deal is perfect. Parliament, budget controllers and the state auditor are excluded. The fact that high commissions and so-called kickbacks (bribes) are being paid in these transactions is in the nature of things.

German companies that participate in Chinese projects may be familiar with this background and are therefore usually very cautious. In other words: German-Chinese business relations in East Africa are reluctantly hanged on the big bell, because the German reputation could suffer. The German-Chinese business relationships that have nevertheless become known are quite different but show a range of possibilities.

Professional cooperation without ideology
On the one hand, there are German companies which are based in China, either independently, as joint ventures or in the form of cooperation. Such companies are considered "Chinese" because they know the rules of the game, the correspondence can be conducted in Chinese and the bank account exists in China. Then there are other German companies with whom one has already worked successfully together in Germany or elsewhere in the world - so why not again? And there are German companies that have a lot of experience in Africa and are well networked, such as consulting firms that can take over construction supervision. It is often the Kenyan client who demands a neutral and professional watchdog.

Many German products are appreciated by the Chinese. If a German company in Kenya is successful with construction chemicals, a Chinese company will also like to come back on them. And if a German construction machine has the desired specifications, it is also being bought by Chinese people in Kenya.

Chinese companies are first and foremost concerned with business and not ideology. German products and services have a good reputation worldwide, even among Chinese people. If China did not used them for its first projects in East Africa, it was because of a lack of knowledge of what is locally available and what is not. In the meantime, this has changed dramatically. And like everywhere in business life, contacts count and they need time to be established.

Chinese are the new Indians
It can already be foreseen that the driving force behind new industrial projects in Kenya will no longer come from entrepreneurs of Indian origin, but from Chinese ones. Once planned Chinese-built industrial parks are completed, there will be a wave of Chinese investment. If these investors first look at Chinese technology, it is only because they are better acquainted with the Chinese market. Anyone who knows and appreciates German products, on the other hand, will know how to weigh up the commercial advantages and disadvantages. For example, one of the first Chinese industrial projects in Kenya, the building materials supplier China Wu Yi Precast, has primarily installed German technology.

Farthest in Ethiopia
What applies to Kenya also applies to Ethiopia, where the Chinese advance is already much further ahead. There, too, the Chinese have built a railway, much more modern and cheaper than in Kenya. And more importantly, they are building industrial parks throughout the country where international companies can find good conditions for low-wage production. The first textile, clothing and leather factories report successes. Food processing and pharmaceutical companies are coming in a second wave. Of course, there are many Chinese companies in it, but not only. And, of course, German companies have good sales opportunities if they make the appropriate marketing efforts.

In Uganda are Chinese traders who have been mixing up the local market. The great Chinese engagement will only come with the start of the oil production and when the Kenyan railway has reached the Ugandan border. In Tanzania, the Chinese currently have less to report because the incumbent president, who is committed to fighting corruption, wants it that way. Instead of Chinese, he gets his railroad built by Turks. Meanwhile, Djibouti has become so heavily indebted to China that its influence can no longer be stopped.

New tones from Beijing
While the Chinese progress all over East Africa - even without Tanzania - can no longer be stopped, it remains exciting to see to what extent new tones from Beijing will affect China's involvement in East Africa. The Chinese leadership has declared its intention to curb corruption in its own government. If it is serious about this, it will also have to introduce stricter rules in its East Africa business.

And then there is the "socialism with Chinese characteristics" propagated by Chinese President Xi Jinping, with which he wants to make the world happy. So far it has been Western Europe and North America that have aggressively propagated their democracy as a form of government and political ideology in Africa. It seems that Xi Jinping now wants to counter this with Chinese principles. Chinese reforms can also be expected in the areas of environmental protection and sustainability, which at some point will also affect Chinese Africa business.

Investment projects in East African countries with Chinese participation
Country Project Investment mio. USD Status Note
Ethiopia Gas production and export 4,300 Talks Start 2020 Poly Group / GCL China
Ethiopia Industrial park 2,000 – 2,500 Different project statuses Developers primarily Chinese companies
Dschibuti Gas pipeline between Ethiopia and Djibouti 4,000 Talks; start of gas production mid-2019 Poly Group/GCL Petroleum Group Holdings Ltd. (both PR China)
Dschibuti 48 sqkm Chinese Free Zone 340 Under construction; largely completed in 2019 Dalian Port Corp., China Merchants Holdings (both PR China), Djibouti Ports and Free Zone Authority
Kenya High Grand Falls Dam (Kibuka) 1,500 Contract awarded; start of construction still pending China State Construction Engineering Corporation
Kenya Standard gauge railway Nairobi-Naivasha 1,500 Under construction; anticipated completion: September 2019 China Road and Bridge Corporation
Tanzania Mchuchuma Coal and Liganga Iron Ore Project 3,000 Planning Sichuan Hongda Group of China
Uganda Development of an oil production infrastructure More than 10,000 Development of a master plan Development of a master plan Joint project between Total, Tullow Oil and China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC)
Uganda Uganda Crude Oil Pipeline through Tanzania to Indian Ocean 3,600 Front End Engineering Design (FEED) completed Joint projects of Total, Tullow Oil and CNOOC
Uganda 800 MW Ayago hydropower plant N.A. Letter of intend Desired partner: China

Source: Research by Germany Trade & Invest

The entire study "China in Africa - Perspectives, Strategies and Cooperation Potentials for German Companies" is available free of charge: Print version under order number 21054 (32 pages) at Germany Trade & Invest, Kundencenter, Postfach 140116, 53056 Bonn, Germany, Telephone: 0228/24993-316, e-mail: vertrieb@gtai.de or as PDF document (german only) after short registration at http://www.gtai.de/china-in-afrika.

Source:

Martin Böll, Germany Trade and Invest www.gtai.de

Shopping malls Photo: Pixabay
24.07.2018

NEW TRENDS IN ITALIAN RETAIL OPEN UP OPPORTUNITIES

  • Franchising takes off, more and more German retail chains discover Italy

Milan (GTAI) - The Italian retail sector is modernizing and the franchise economy is growing. Italian franchise systems are gaining ground. New modern shopping centers, including the largest in Europe, create space for new shops. German retail chains are expanding in many segments, from discount food and other consumer goods to services. Northern Italy is considered a popular test site. High quality and a price advantage are the keys to success.

  • Franchising takes off, more and more German retail chains discover Italy

Milan (GTAI) - The Italian retail sector is modernizing and the franchise economy is growing. Italian franchise systems are gaining ground. New modern shopping centers, including the largest in Europe, create space for new shops. German retail chains are expanding in many segments, from discount food and other consumer goods to services. Northern Italy is considered a popular test site. High quality and a price advantage are the keys to success.

The Italian retail sector is changing. The number of classic corner shops is declining, the modern organized retail trade is growing. The franchise economy in particular is developing positively. Beyond the classical areas such as food and fashion, various Italian franchise systems are spreading more and more visibly in the big cities.
 
According to the industry association Assofranchising, the franchise industry had a turnover of approximately EUR 24.6 billion in 2017. This represents an increase of 2.6 percent compared to the previous year and an increase of 5.7 percent since 2014. With a similar number of systems (929 in Italy, 972 in Germany), the German franchise industry generated almost five times as much turnover. One reason for this is that German franchise systems have on average more than three times as many businesses per franchise.

Development of the franchise economy in Italy
  2016 2017 Change (in %)
Sales (Euro Mio.)  23,930 24,545 2.6
Franchise systems 950 929 -2.2
Businesses 50,720 51,671 1.9
Italian businesses abroad 7,871 10,079 28.1
Italian businesses abroad (min. 3 companies) 169 179 5.9
Foreign systems in Italy 61 71 16.4
Employees 195,303 199,260 2.0
Average size of systems in Italy (number of companies) 53.4 55.6 4.2
Average size of Italian systems abroad (number of companies) 46.6 56.3 20.9

   Source: Rapporto Assofranchising 2018

But the segment is catching up in Italy. Italian franchise systems are expanding, also abroad. Outside Italy, their number increased by around 6 percent in 2017, while their average size (measured by the number of businesses) increased by around 21 percent. The domestic average dimension is also growing. The country is also becoming more attractive for foreign franchisors. In 2017, the number of foreign franchise systems increased by 16 percent. The relevant trade fair is the Salone Franchising, which will take place from October 25th to 27th 2018 in Milan.   

New shopping centers are driving the developments forward
Developments in the retail sector are accompanied by new construction projects. A number of new shopping centers are currently under construction in Italy, creating space for the new generation of franchises and retail chains. The major CityLife project on the former Milan exhibition grounds is a current example. In addition to two of the three planned skyscrapers (including Allianz's new headquarter in Italy), a new shopping center was inaugurated in autumn 2017. Particularly in the catering sector new Italian chains, which are expanding nationwide, can be seen. A new gastronomy floor with restaurants and cafés in the middle price segment was recently inaugurated at the Termini railway station in Rome.

A number of modern shopping centers are still under construction, including the new Westfield Milan. Project operators describe it as the largest shopping center in Europe. With an investment EUR 1.4 billion Westfield Milan is to be inaugurated in 2020. The majority of the new construction projects are located in the larger cities in the north, but Rome and Naples will soon receive new shopping centers also.

Shopping centers under construction in Italy
Designation Investment (Mio. Euro) Area (1,000 sqm) Completion Remarks
Westfield, Milan 1,400 60 2020

http://www.westfieldcorp.com

Maximo, Rome 300 61 2019 Cushman & Wakefield
Emilia Shopping District, Parma 200 74 2019

http://www.sonaesierra.com

Maximall Pompeii, Napoli 150 200 2019

http://www.maximall.it/pompeii

Falcon Malls Cascina Merlata, Milan n.a. 65 2021 http://falconmalls.it
Falcon Malls Concordia, Milan n.a. 131 2021 http://falconmalls.it
Waltherpark Shopping - Bozen 23 k.A. 2021

https://waltherpark.com

    Source: Research of Germany Trade & Invest

Opportunities for German retail chains
Another trend in Italy is the expansion of German retail chains. One growth area is the market for discount foods. According to Nielsen, discounters had a market share of 17 percent of the sold food at the end of 2017. The market leader is Eurospin from Italy, followed by Lidl. In 2018 Aldi opened its first store in northern Italy and by the end of 2018 it is planned to open 45 stores. Lidl is defending itself against its new competitor with planned investments in Italy amounting to EUR 350 mio for a new inner-city store concept. A total of 40 new points of sale are planned, and a further 50 stores are to be modernized.

Both German supermarket chains confirm that a local strategy for Italian gourmets is indispensable. Lidl sources 80 percent of its food products from Italy, while Aldi's share is almost as high at 75 percent.

In terms of price, the recipe for success of the German retail chains is somewhat different from Germany. Although German retailers continue to score with a good price-performance ratio, the focus in Italy is on the mid-price segment.

The latest example is the drugstore chain dm. The first branch was inaugurated at the end of 2017. There are plans to open 100 stores in northern Italy by 2020. dm offers not only a price advantage over its Italian competitors, but also high-quality products. In addition, there are hardly any "one-stop shops" in Italy, which are also drugstores, but also sell beauty products, organic and natural products as well as baby products.   

The Douglas perfumery chain is expanding also in Italy. At the end of 2017, Douglas' parent company completed the acquisition of two of the leading perfumeries in Italy, Limoni and La Gardenia.    

Fielmann is another example of a German chain that has conquered the Italian market in recent years with high-quality products and a price advantage. With entry into the South Tyrol market and ongoing expansion in northern Italy, Fielmann is popular with Italian consumers despite the large competing manufacturers of glasses in Italy due to its price advantages.

Germany's successful model is not limited to food and other consumer goods. The Berlin-based company Flixbus is an example that the concept of quality and price competition can also be successfully applied to the service sector. Flixbus has been in Italy since 2015 and the number of passengers is increasing constantly. In 2017, 40 million Italians were on the road with Flixbus, twice as many as the year before. Italy is the fastest growing market among 26 countries for the company.

More information:
Italy Franchisesysteme Retail
Source:

Robert Scheid, Germany Trade & Invest www.gtai.de

imm cologne 2017 © Koelnmesse GmbH
29.11.2016

IMM COLOGNE 2017: SUSTAINABILITY TAKES OVER THE BEDROOM

  • In Cologne, bed manufacturers will be presenting their new products and ideas in the Sleep Segment.
  • The subject of sustainability will be a key area of focus in a segment strong on Innovation.

"You made your bed, now sleep in it", so the saying goes. The choice of bed determines how well we sleep. That sounds simple, but is in fact quite complex. There are beds of different heights, with varying levels of mattress thickness, type and size, box spring beds, waterbeds and futons. This year, once again, the Sleep segment at imm cologne 2017 offers a complete overview of what is currently on offer from the industry. Across approximately 18,000 square metres, all of the big names in the industry will be presenting their ranges. The themes of the action areas are sustainability and Recycling.

  • In Cologne, bed manufacturers will be presenting their new products and ideas in the Sleep Segment.
  • The subject of sustainability will be a key area of focus in a segment strong on Innovation.

"You made your bed, now sleep in it", so the saying goes. The choice of bed determines how well we sleep. That sounds simple, but is in fact quite complex. There are beds of different heights, with varying levels of mattress thickness, type and size, box spring beds, waterbeds and futons. This year, once again, the Sleep segment at imm cologne 2017 offers a complete overview of what is currently on offer from the industry. Across approximately 18,000 square metres, all of the big names in the industry will be presenting their ranges. The themes of the action areas are sustainability and Recycling.

imm cologne is the perfect place to guide the trade through the multiplicity of beds and mattresses: once again, in 2017 bedroom furniture for every taste and need will be on show here. Says Arne Petersen, Vice President Trade Fair Management at Koelnmesse: "Our Sleep segment is again expected to be hugely popular at the coming imm cologne 2017. Hall 9 is already fully booked and Hall 5.1 has also to a large extent been booked by vendors from the Sleep segment."

The big exhibitors will without exception be represented again in the coming year in the city on the Rhine, including the German company Oschmann, which has been manufacturing upholstered beds for five generations, and the home textile specialist Frankenstolz.

And Tempur, Hilding Anders from Sweden, Badenia, Rummel Matratzen, Veldeman, Auping, Fey & Co. as well as De Rucci will be showcasing their contributions to a restful sleep in Cologne. A lot of international companies will be debuting at imm cologne in 2017, including Perzona International, Ecus Sleep, Ersan Madeni, Boydak and Toom Tekstiil, among others. And a number of German companies will also be among those represented at imm cologne for the first time, including Centa Star and Shogazi. Shogazi has been specialising in healthy sleep since 2002. With its mattresses made from natural materials, the Munich-based manufacturer is a perfect match for the focal point of the Sleep segment at imm cologne 2017.

The subject of sustainability will be addressed in two special areas: in cooperation with the American organisation ISPA (International Sleep Products Association), Koelnmesse is creating a Lounge area in Hall 5.1 on the theme of "Mattress Recycling".Hall 9 also addresses the topic of the responsible use of resources: "The Recycling Lounge ties in with the topic we'll be covering in Hall 9, which is the subject of sustainability", explains Petersen. "In this way, the Sleep segment in 2017 will again illustrate the current state of the bedroom furniture segment whilst at the same time offering answers to issues that are relevant to society."