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21.12.2021

Consumption after Corona: Consumers focus on Quality and Sustainability

Study by Roland Berger and Potloc

  • Consumers expect more quality (67%) and sustainability (51%) from brands and products
  • Small retail stores are trendy and score with exclusive product range
  • Furniture, household and garden articles remain in focus

The Covid pandemic has changed the purchasing behavior. Consumers are focusing primarily on brands with high quality standards (67%) and sustainable products (51%). Even though the trend towards online shopping remains unbroken, small stores in particular can score points with exclusive product ranges. Almost a third (32%) of consumers visit these types of stores more frequently than before the crisis. These are the core findings of the "Decoding Consumer Behavior" study published in fall 2021 by Roland Berger and Potloc, for which 2,100 consumers from twelve countries were surveyed.

Study by Roland Berger and Potloc

  • Consumers expect more quality (67%) and sustainability (51%) from brands and products
  • Small retail stores are trendy and score with exclusive product range
  • Furniture, household and garden articles remain in focus

The Covid pandemic has changed the purchasing behavior. Consumers are focusing primarily on brands with high quality standards (67%) and sustainable products (51%). Even though the trend towards online shopping remains unbroken, small stores in particular can score points with exclusive product ranges. Almost a third (32%) of consumers visit these types of stores more frequently than before the crisis. These are the core findings of the "Decoding Consumer Behavior" study published in fall 2021 by Roland Berger and Potloc, for which 2,100 consumers from twelve countries were surveyed.

"Overall, consumers are much more positive about the future and, for the most part, do not want to cut back further in 2022. This is good news for retailers, who had to overcome an unprecedented cut with the pandemic," says Thorsten de Boer, Partner at Roland Berger. "However, brands and retailers should take into account that consumers have different priorities when making decisions today. They also expect a consistent online presence across platforms and devices more than ever. And when they enter a store, they are looking for an exclusive experience."

Customers focus on goods for their own homes and everyday needs
In the immediate purchasing decision, value for money (68%) and quality (56%) are the most important criteria for consumers. Here, too, sustainability is becoming increasingly important. One-third want to give even greater consideration to this criterion in the future. Sustainability has finally reached the consumer," says Richard Federowski, Partner at Roland Berger.

A look at the shopping baskets shows that the focus continues to be on products for everyday needs and the home (furniture, household and garden articles). 37% have spent more money on food this year, for example, and 29% also want to make additional investments here in 2022. "The trend towards cocooning, i.e. retreating into a private domestic life, continues to have an impact. The demand for business outfits, will tend to remain at a low level in the near future," says Federowski. "Fashion from the sports and leisure sector also continues to be in high demand, and sustainability aspects will increasingly have to be taken into account in collections. However, purchases here will be made primarily online because it is simply more convenient for most people."

City center retailers can score with customer service and product ranges
Online retailing continues to gain ground globally. Online retailing continues to gain ground globally. A third of the people surveyed said they would order more online in 2021 than in the previous year. Above all, free delivery and the ability to return items easily and free of charge are important to customers. "Consumers have learned how convenient and fast online shopping can be, and this is true across all product categories - including groceries to an increasing extent," says de Boer. Services such as (virtual) advice, click-and-collect or live shopping currently play only a minor role in online shopping, but will become essential in the future.

The situation is very different when it comes to shopping in stores. German consumers in particular are flocking to city centers to enjoy the benefits of personal advice (51%). While frequencies are not yet at pre-Corona levels, conversion rates are very good. They also want to access exclusive product ranges (37%) and celebrate their shopping. "Therein lies an opportunity for retailers and city centers," says de Boer. "However, in order to compete, even small retailers can no longer do it without a digital component. To do so, they need to take their exclusive experiences to social platforms. They also know their clientele well and often sit on valuable data - this potential of 'small data' and 'communities' needs to be tapped."

The study in English can be downloaded here.

Source:

Roland Berger and Potloc

(c) Toray
23.11.2021

Toray Industries: A Concept to change Lives

Founded in January 1926, Tokyo-based Japanese chemical company Toray Industries, Inc. is known as the world's largest producer of PAN (polyacrylonitrile)-based carbon fibers. But its overall portfolio includes much more. Textination spoke with Koji Sasaki, General Manager of the Textile Division of Toray Industries, Inc. about innovative product solutions, new responsibilities and the special role of chemical companies in today's world.

Toray Industries is a Japanese company that - originating in 1926 as a producer of viscose yarns - is on the home stretch to its 100th birthday. Today, the Toray Group includes 102 Japanese companies and 180 overseas. They operate in 29 countries. What is the current significance of the fibers and textiles business unit for the success of your company?

Founded in January 1926, Tokyo-based Japanese chemical company Toray Industries, Inc. is known as the world's largest producer of PAN (polyacrylonitrile)-based carbon fibers. But its overall portfolio includes much more. Textination spoke with Koji Sasaki, General Manager of the Textile Division of Toray Industries, Inc. about innovative product solutions, new responsibilities and the special role of chemical companies in today's world.

Toray Industries is a Japanese company that - originating in 1926 as a producer of viscose yarns - is on the home stretch to its 100th birthday. Today, the Toray Group includes 102 Japanese companies and 180 overseas. They operate in 29 countries. What is the current significance of the fibers and textiles business unit for the success of your company?

The fibers’ and textiles’ business is both the starting point and the foundation of Toray's business development today. We started producing viscose yarns in 1926 and conducted our own research and development in nylon fibers as early as 1940. And since new materials usually require new processing methods, Toray also began investing in its own process technology at an early stage. On the one hand, we want to increase our sales, and on the other hand, we want to expand the application possibilities for our materials. For this reason, Toray also began to expand its business from pure fibers to textiles and even clothing. This allows us to better respond to our customers' needs while staying at the forefront of innovation.

Over the decades, Toray has accumulated a great deal of knowledge in polymer chemistry and organic synthesis chemistry - and this know-how is the foundation for almost all of our other business ventures. Today, we produce a wide range of advanced materials and high-value-added products in plastics, chemicals, foils, carbon fiber composites, electronics and information materials, pharmaceuticals, medicine and water treatment. However, fibers and textiles remain our most important business area, accounting for around 40% of the company's sales.

What understanding, what heritage is still important to you today? And how do you live out a corporate philosophy in the textile sector that you formulate as "Contributing to society through the creation of new value with innovative ideas, technologies and products"?

Toray has consistently developed new materials that the world has never seen before. We do this by focusing on our four core technologies: Polymer chemistry, organic synthetic chemistry, biotechnology and nanotechnology. We do this by focusing on our four core technologies: Polymer chemistry, organic synthetic chemistry, biotechnology and nanotechnology. For textiles, this means we use new polymer structures, spinning technologies and processing methods to develop yarns with unprecedented properties. We always focus on the needs and problems of the market and our customers.

This approach enables us to integrate textiles with new functions into our everyday lives that natural fibers and materials cannot accomplish. For example, we offer sportswear and underwear that absorb water excellently and dry very quickly, or rainwear and outdoor clothing with excellent water-repellent properties that feature a less bulky inner lining. Other examples include antibacterial underwear, uniforms, or inner linings that provide a hygienic environment and reduce the growth of odor-causing bacteria. People enjoy the convenience of these innovative textiles every day, and we hope to contribute to their daily comfort and improve their lives in some way.

In 2015, the United Nations adopted 17 sustainable development goals – simply known as the 2030 Agenda, which came into force on January 01, 2016. Countries were given 15 years to achieve them by 2030. In your company, there is a TORAY VISION 2030 and a TORAY SUSTAINABILITY VISION. How do you apply these principles and goals to the textile business? What role does sustainability play for this business area?

Sustainability is one of the most important issues facing the world today - not only in the textile sector, but in all industries. We in the Toray Group are convinced that we can contribute to solving various problems in this regard with our advanced materials. At the same time, the trend towards sustainability offers interesting new business approaches. In our sustainability vision, we have set four goals that the world should achieve by 2050. And we have defined which problems need to be addressed to achieve this.

We must:

  1. accelerate measures to combat climate change,
  2. implement sustainable, recycling-oriented solutions in the use of resources and in production,
  3. provide clean water and air, and
  4. contribute to better healthcare and hygiene for people around the world.

We will drive this agenda forward by promoting and expanding the use of materials that respond to environmental issues. In the textile sector, for example, we offer warming and cooling textiles – by eliminating the need for air conditioning or heating in certain situations, they can help reduce energy costs. We also produce environmentally friendly textiles that do not contain certain harmful substances such as fluorine, as well as textiles made from biomass, which use plant-based fibers instead of conventional petrochemical materials. Our product range also includes recycled materials that reduce waste and promote effective use of resources.

The TORAY VISION 2030, on the other hand, is our medium-term strategic plan and looks at the issue of sustainability from a different angle: Toray has defined the path to sustainable and healthy corporate growth in it. In this plan, we are focusing on two major growth areas: Our Green Innovation Business, which aims to solve environmental, resource and energy problems, and the Life Innovation Business, which focuses on improving medical care, public health, personal safety and ultimately a longer expectancy of life.

Innovation by Chemistry is the claim of the Toray Group. In a world where REACH and Fridays for Future severely restrict the scope of the chemical industry, the question arises as to what position chemistry can have in the textile industry. How do chemistry, innovation and sustainability fit together here?

The chemical industry is at a turning point today. The benefits that this industry can bring to civilization are still enormous, but at the same time, disadvantages such as the waste of resources and the negative impact on the environment and ecosystems are becoming increasingly apparent. In the future, the chemical industry will have to work much more towards sustainability - there is no way around it.

As far as textiles are concerned, we believe there are several ways to make synthetic materials more sustainable in the future. One of these, as I said, is materials made from plants instead of petrochemical raw materials. Another is to reduce the amount of raw materials used in production in the first place – this can be achieved, for example, by collecting and recycling waste materials from production or sales. Biodegradable materials that reduce the impact of waste products on the environment are another option worth pursuing, as is the reduction of environmentally harmful substances used in the production process. We are already looking at all of these possibilities in Toray's synthetic textiles business. At the same time, by the way, we make sure to save energy in our own production and minimize the impact on the environment.

Toray's fibers & textiles segment focuses on synthetic fibers such as nylon, polyester and acrylic, as well as other functional fibers. In recent years, there has been a clear trend on the market towards cellulosic fibers, which are also being traded as alternatives to synthetic products. How do you see this development – on the one hand for the Toray company, and on the other hand under the aspect of sustainability, which the cellulosic competitors claim for themselves with the renewable raw material base?

Natural fibers, including cellulose fibers and wool, are environmentally friendly in that they can be easily recycled and are rapidly biodegradable after disposal. However, to truly assess their environmental impact, a number of other factors must also be considered: Primarily, there is the issue of durability: precisely because natural fibers are natural, it is difficult to respond to a rapid increase in demand, and quality is not always stable due to weather and other factors.

Climatic changes such as extreme heat, drought, wind, floods and damages from freezing can affect the quantity and quality of the production of natural fibers, so that the supply is not always secured. In order to increase production, not only does land have to be cleared, but also large amounts of water and pesticides have to be used to cultivate it – all of which is harmful to the environment.

Synthetic fibers, on the other hand, are industrial products manufactured in controlled factory environments. This makes it easier to manage fluctuations in production volume and ensure consistent quality. In addition, certain functional properties such as resilience, water absorption, quick drying and antibacterial properties can be embedded into the material, which can result in textiles lasting longer in use.

So synthetic fibers and natural fibers, including cellulose fibers, have their own advantages and disadvantages – there is no panacea here, at least not at the moment. We believe: It is important to ensure that there are options that match the consumer's awareness and lifestyle. This includes comfort in everyday life and sustainability at the same time.

To what extent has the demand for recycled products increased? Under the brand name &+™, Toray offers a fiber made from recycled PET bottles. Especially with the "raw material base: PET bottles", problems can occur with the whiteness of the fiber. What distinguishes your process from that of other companies and to what extent can you compete with new fibers in terms of quality?

During the production of the "&+" fiber, the collected PET bottles are freed from all foreign substances using special washing and filtering processes. These processes have not only allowed us to solve the problem of fiber whiteness – by using filtered, high-purity recycled polyester chips, we can also produce very fine fibers and fibers with unique cross sections. Our proven process technologies can also be used to incorporate specific textures and functions of Toray into the fiber. In addition, "&+" contains a special substance in the polyester that allows the material to be traced back to the recycled PET bottle fibers used in it.

We believe that this combination of aesthetics, sustainability and functionality makes the recycled polyester fiber "&+" more competitive than those of other companies. And indeed, we have noticed that the number of requests is steadily increasing as companies develop a greater awareness of sustainability as early as the product planning stage.

How is innovation management practiced in Toray's textile division, and which developments that Toray has worked on recently are you particularly proud of?

The textile division consists of three sub-divisions focusing on the development and sale of fashion textiles (WOMEN'S & MEN'S WEAR FABRICS DEPT.), sports and outdoor textiles (SPORTS WEAR & CLOTHING MATERIALS FABRICS DEPT.) and, specifically for Japan, textiles for uniforms used in schools, businesses and the public sector (UNIFORM & ADVANCED TEXTILES DEPT.).

In the past, each division developed its own materials for their respective markets and customers. However, in 2021, we established a collaborative space to increase synergy and share information about textiles developed in different areas with the entire department. In this way, salespeople can also offer their customers materials developed in other departments and get ideas for developing new textiles themselves.

I believe that the new structure will also help us to respond better to changes in the market. We see, for example, that the boundaries between workwear and outdoor are blurring – brands like Engelbert Strauss are a good example of this trend. Another development that we believe will accelerate after the Corona pandemic is the focus on green technologies and materials. This applies to all textile sectors, and we need to work more closely together to be at the forefront of this.

How important are bio-based polyesters in your research projects? How do you assess the future importance of such alternatives?

I believe that these materials will play a major role in the coming years. Polyester is made from purified terephthalic acid (PTA), which again consists of paraxylene (PX) and ethylene glycol (EG). In a first step, we already offer a material called ECODEAR™, which uses sugar cane molasses waste as a raw material for EG production.

About 30% of this at least partially bio polyester fiber is therefore biologically produced, and the material is used on a large scale for sportswear and uniforms. In the next step, we are working on the development of a fully bio-based polyester fiber in which the PTA component is also obtained from biomass raw materials, such as the inedible parts of sugar cane and wood waste.

Already in 2011, we succeeded in producing a prototype of such a polyester fiber made entirely from biomass. However, the expansion of production at the PX manufacturer we are working with has proven to be challenging. Currently, we are only producing small sample quantities, but we hope to start mass production in the 2020s.

Originally starting with yarn, now a leading global producer of synthetic fibers for decades, you also work to the ready-made product. The range extends from protective clothing against dust and infections to smart textiles and functional textiles that record biometric data. What are you planning in these segments?

In the field of protective clothing, our LIVMOA™ brand is our flagship material. It combines high breathability to reduce moisture inside the garment with blocking properties that keep dust and other particles out. The textile is suitable for a wide range of work environments, including those with high dust or grease levels and even cleanrooms. LIVMOA™ 5000, a high quality, also demonstrates antiviral properties and helps to ease the burden on medical personnel. The material forms an effective barrier against bacteria and viruses and is resistant to hygroscopic pressure. Due to its high breathability, it also offers high wearing comfort.

Our smart textile is called hitoe™. This highly conductive fabric embeds a conductive polymer – a polymer compound that allows electricity to pass through - into the nanofiber fabric. hitoe™ is a high-performance material for detecting biosignals, weak electrical signals that we unconsciously emit from our bodies.

In Japan, Toray has developed products for electrocardiographic measurements (ECGs) that meet the safety and effectiveness standards of medical devices. And in 2016, we submitted an application to the Japanese medical administrative authorities to register a hitoe™ device as a general medical device – this registration process is now complete. Overall, we expect the healthcare sector, particularly medical and nursing applications, to grow – not least due to increasing infectious diseases and growing health awareness among the elderly population. We will therefore continue to develop and sell new products for this market.

In 1885, Joseph Wilson Swan introduced the term "artifical silk" for the nitrate cellulose filaments he artificially produced. Later, copper, viscose and acetate filament yarns spun on the basis of cellulose were also referred to as artifical silk. Toray has developed a new innovative spinning technology called NANODESIGN™, which enables nano-level control of the fineness and shape of synthetic fibers. This is expected to create functions, aesthetics and textures that have not existed before. For which applications do you intend to use these products?

In NANODESIGN™ technology, the polymer is split into a number of microscopic streams, which are then recombined in a specific pattern to form a new fiber. By controlling the polymer flow with extreme precision, the fineness and cross-sectional shape of the fiber can be determined much more accurately than was previously possible with conventional microfiber and nanofiber spinning technologies. In addition, this technology enables the combination of three or more polymer types with different properties in one fiber – conventional technologies only manage two polymer types. This technology therefore enables Toray to specify a wide range of textures and functions in the production of synthetic fibers that were not possible with conventional synthetic fibers – and even to outperform the texture and feel of natural fibers. Kinari, our artificial silk developed with NANODESIGN technology, is a prime example here, but the technology holds many more possibilities – especially with regard to our sustainability goals.

What has the past period of the pandemic meant for Toray's textile business so far? To what extent has it been a burden, but in which areas has it also been a driver of innovation? What do you expect of the next 12 months?

The Corona catastrophe had a dramatic impact on the company's results: The Corona catastrophe had a dramatic impact on the company's results: In the financial year 2020, Toray's total sales fell by about 10% to 188.36 billion yen (about 1.44 billion euros) and operating profit by about 28% to 90.3 billion yen (about 690 million euros). The impact on the fiber and textile business was also significant, with sales decreasing by around 13% to 719.2 billion yen (approx. 5.49 billion euros) and operating profit by around 39% to 36.6 billion yen (approx. 280 million euros).

In the financial year 2021, however, the outlook for the fibers and textiles sector is significantly better: So far, the segment has exceeded its goals overall, even if there are fluctuations in the individual areas and applications. In the period from April to June, we even returned to the level of 2019. This is partly due to the recovering sports and outdoor sector. The fashion apparel market, on the other hand, remains challenging due to changing lifestyles that have brought lock-downs and home-office. We believe that a full recovery in business will not occur until the travel and leisure sector returns to pre-Corona levels.

Another side effect of the pandemic that we feel very strongly, is the growing concern about environmental issues and climate change. As a result, the demand for sustainable materials has also increased in the apparel segment. In the future, sustainability will be mandatory for the development and marketing of new textiles in all market segments. Then again, there will always be the question of how sustainable a product really is, and data and traceability will become increasingly important. In the coming years, the textile division will keep a close eye on these developments and develop materials that meet customers' needs.

About the person:
Koji Sasaki joined Toray in 1987. In his more than 30 years with the company, he has held various positions, including a four-year position as Managing Director of Toray International Europe GmbH in Frankfurt from 2016 to 2020. Since 2020, Koji Sasaki has been responsible for Toray's textile division and serves as acting chairman of Toray Textiles Europe Ltd. In these roles, he supervises the company's development, sales and marketing activities in the apparel segment, including fashion, sports and work or school uniforms.

The interview was conducted by Ines Chucholowius, Managing partner Textination GmbH

Foto: Pixabay
12.10.2021

Making companies crisis-proof: Resilience as an extended security concept

Companies today face a variety of increasingly complex risks. Not least the pandemic has shown how crises can pose an existential threat to companies. The FReE tool of the Fraunhofer Institute for High-Speed Dynamics, Ernst-Mach-Institut, EMI, allows companies to measure their resilience and subsequently be prepared for upcoming crisis scenarios.
 

Companies today face a variety of increasingly complex risks. Not least the pandemic has shown how crises can pose an existential threat to companies. The FReE tool of the Fraunhofer Institute for High-Speed Dynamics, Ernst-Mach-Institut, EMI, allows companies to measure their resilience and subsequently be prepared for upcoming crisis scenarios.
 
Our world is highly complex and prone to disruption: Natural disasters, cyberattacks, power outages, terrorist attacks, pandemics and other crisis scenarios can threaten companies existentially. The corona pandemic has shown us how vulnerable the German economy really is: According to the Federal Statistical Office, in 2020 the economy fell into a deep recession after ten years of growth; especially in the second quarter of 2020, economic output saw a historic slump. There will be other crises after this pandemic. The classic methods of risk analysis and risk management, which only take into account expected risks, do not adequately protect companies against major losses.

“Companies often only consider the most likely scenarios rather than focusing on possible crisis events,“ says Daniel Hiller, Head of business unit Security and Resilience at Fraunhofer EMI in Freiburg. Teams at Fraunhofer are establishing resilience as a new security concept to help prepare organizations and companies for crises. The results of their research work include the online tool Fraunhofer Resilience Evaluator FReE and the KMU-Lagebild software, both designed to enable companies to measure and evaluate their resilience and to carry out a resilience analysis before, during and after a disruptive event.
 
The five-stage concept “Prepare, Prevent, Protect, Respond and Recover”
The online tool FReE allows companies to plan resilience strategically, to implement the abstract concept in their company and to put it into practice on management level. FReE is based on the five-stage concept “Prepare, Prevent, Protect, Respond and Recover.”  

The software comes with a list of 68 questions related to the five resilience stages. The answers provide the company with some initial information needed to assess resilience. The five stages are ordered chronologically, starting with a what-if scenario. During this Prepare stage companies prepare for disruptive situations, which helps avert damage using preventive measures during the Prevent stage.

“An aluminum processing plant, for example, might want to protect its premises with security fences and cameras, because thieves usually break in at night to steal aluminum,“ says Hiller, illustrating the first two stages using a classic example. The Protect stage, as the name suggests, aims to protect; this might include safeguarding important infrastructures or buildings with additional concrete layers or walls. If it was not possible to stave off the disaster, the Respond stage comes into play. It is now important to quickly identify the cause and extent of the damage and to preserve critical supply functions. After the incident, companies should systematically draw lessons from the crisis in order to be better able to avert future risks and to boost their resilience in a cyclical iterative process – researchers call this stage Learn and Adapt.
 
The FReE tool takes the user through the list of questions, which are ordered chronologically into the sections before, during and after a disruption and cover all company divisions. These including personnel, finance, infrastructure and technology. The tool allows you to filter by division during the evaluation process. “For example, a controller can set the filter such that only results related to finance are shown,” says Hiller. Possible questions include: “Is there a disaster manager in the event of a disruption?“, “What are their qualifications and powers?” or “What are the financial reserves for emergencies?” The evaluation is shown in the radar chart, with the worst result being at zero percent in the graticule.

FReE is available in three versions: The free web-based quick version includes 15 questions. The full version, which includes the complete list of 68 questions, is available on a project basis. The accompanying consulting project is based on the paid version. As part of the consulting project, Hiller and his team work together with the companies to develop appropriate measures to boost resilience and eliminate weak spots. Furthermore, additional questions can be added to the FReE tool to adapt it to the needs of specific industries. Many SMEs are already using the quick version and are planning to update it to the full version.

KMU-Lagebild project
While FReE enables companies to assess their resilience on their own, the KMU-Lagebild project supports them in carrying out a comprehensive resilience assessment. The researchers model all procedures and processes on the computer using the available data. By inputting hypothetical disruption scenarios, you can see how the system reacts to them and which countermeasures have to be taken. “By asking yourself not only what the most likely disruptions are, but also what potential incidents there are, you broaden your view of the risks. What’s more, resilient companies exhibit a high level of adaptability and flexibility,” says Hiller in summary.

More information:
SMEs resilience corona crisis
Source:

Fraunhofer-Institut für Kurzzeitdynamik, Ernst-Mach-Institut, EMI [Fraunhofer Institute for High-Speed Dynamics, Ernst-Mach-Institut, EMI]

(c) Checkpoint Systems
28.09.2021

Checkpoint Systems: Retail Technology Solutions – Success needs a Team

Checkpoint Systems, a division of CCL Industries, is a global leader in retail solutions. The portfolio ranges from electronic article surveillance as well as theft and loss prevention to RFID hardware and software and labeling solutions. The aim is to provide retailers with accurate, real-time inventory, speed up the replenishment cycle, prevent out-of-stocks and reduce theft to improve product availability and the customer shopping experience.

Checkpoint Systems, a division of CCL Industries, is a global leader in retail solutions. The portfolio ranges from electronic article surveillance as well as theft and loss prevention to RFID hardware and software and labeling solutions. The aim is to provide retailers with accurate, real-time inventory, speed up the replenishment cycle, prevent out-of-stocks and reduce theft to improve product availability and the customer shopping experience.

Textination spoke with Miguel Garcia Manso, Business Unit Director Germany at Checkpoint Systems, where the 44-year-old industrial engineering graduate has been working since 2018. With many years of international retail experience, he knows the needs of the retail industry very well. Before that, Miguel Garcia Manso lived in Madrid for almost 15 years, where he worked for the Spanish food retailer DIA. There he also accompanied the introduction and roll-out of article surveillance projects.

 

If you had to present Checkpoint Systems and its portfolio to someone who is not a retail professional – what would you say?

We are the retail partner and our job is to help retailers make shopping as pleasant as possible for their customers. Put simply, our solutions ensure that the right product is in the right place at the right time when the end consumer wants to buy it, instead of standing in front of an empty shelf in the worst-case scenario. Our portfolio ranges from individual anti-theft products to solutions that cover the entire supply chain and provide the greatest possible transparency of inventory.

 

It's been a long journey from the 1960s, when a small team in the U.S. developed a method to prevent the theft of books from public libraries, to becoming the international leader in 21st century article surveillance, operating in 35 countries. What legacy is still important to you today, and how would you describe the spirit at Checkpoint Systems?
 
Both questions have the same answer: On the one hand, innovative strength and, on the other, consistent exchange with the retail industry. Both have been in the focus at Checkpoint Systems from the very beginning. We develop our products and systems in close exchange with the industry, actively seek dialogue, listen to what is needed in everyday life, etc. This is very important to us and is also regularly used as a selling point for Checkpoint Systems. We definitely want to continue this.

 

You offer hardware and software technologies for retail, which is a very complex market. How do the requirements of retailers from the fashion, outdoor and textile industries differ from those of other industries?

The reasons why retail companies contact us are similar across all industries. They all want to delight their customers, retain them in the long term, and generate more sales. The ways to achieve this may differ: From omni-channel strategies for the fashion sector, to article surveillance solutions for high-priced electrical or cosmetic products, and to RFID-based fresh food solutions for food retailers to reduce food waste.
The requirements of the industries differ, especially when it comes to labels. Depending on the size and price of the product as well as the desired technology, we recommend different labels – or develop them in close coordination with the customer. For the Polish fashion company LPP, for example, we have just developed a special dual RF and RFID tag that blends harmoniously into the store design.

 

Magic word RFID – the contactless and automated reading and storing of data based on electromagnetic waves is the centerpiece of your technologies. You even encourage your customers to develop their own RFID strategy. What do you mean by this and are you sure that all retail companies will be able to do this on their own?

We develop the strategy together with our customers, usually as part of a pilot project. Until a few years ago, the introduction of RFID technology was actually more complex and usually involved a project lasting several years. Today, however, we can quickly calculate for each retailer in the context of a small pilot project, how much more profitable they can be with RFID and what their return on investment is. We usually start with a store scan, followed by pilot testing in selected stores, including individual training and on-site support. And by the time it is implemented in all stores, the customers themselves are RFID experts and have an understanding of what they can do with the real-time data. 

 

What does the keyword "customized" mean for Checkpoint Systems? To what extent can you map the individual needs of each customer? Or can you make every retail company – whether chain or boutique – "happy"?

We give high priority to personalized solutions. This concerns, on the one hand, the product itself and, on the other, the size of the company. As you already indicate, large retail chains obviously have different needs than small boutiques. For O₂, Telefónica Germany’s core brand, for example, we have just specially adapted our AutoPeg tags for theft protection. Instead of the standard yellow, the tags for O₂ are white with blue lettering to match the store design.
This also shows the development in the area of article surveillance in general: When article surveillance was still in its infancy, antennas and labels were mainly functional. Nowadays, they blend harmoniously into the overall look of the store design. Retailers no longer have to choose between design and functionality.

 

How is innovation management practiced in your company and which developments that Checkpoint has worked on recently are you particularly proud of?

In recent months, we have worked intensively – together with the German Employers' Liability Insurance Association (Berufsgenossenschaft Handel und Warenlogistik) – on the testing and certification of our article surveillance systems and now we can proudly say: We are the first manufacturer in Germany whose EAS systems have been tested by the CSA Group, an internationally recognized and accredited provider of testing and certification services. The CSA Group has confirmed that our radio frequency-based EAS systems comply with all standards and guidelines applicable in Germany with regard to exposure to electromagnetic fields. No safety distances need to be maintained.
The background is as follows: Retailers in Germany are obliged to prepare a risk assessment if they use an EAS system. The CE declaration of conformity, which they receive from the manufacturer when purchasing an EAS system, is not sufficient for this purpose. By testing our systems, we have created the best conditions for our customers to make such an assessment. We have also provided the relevant documents to the Employer's Liability Insurance Association.

We are also proud of the fact that we have managed to increase the clearance widths of our NEO antennas for article surveillance from two meters to 2.70 meters. This gives retailers significantly more freedom in store design. In general, store design is also a good keyword at this point: With our free-standing antennas, the design of the NS40 or even the possibility of incorporating antennas into checkout systems, we have contributed a great deal to making article surveillance aesthetically pleasing and harmoniously integrated into the whole.

 

The Covid-19 period was a disaster, especially for the stationary retail. In recent months, companies have increasingly moved in the direction of e-commerce – whether via individual store solutions or marketplaces – in order to compensate for at least part of the decline in sales. What is your advice to retailers: Can only omni-channel businesses be successful today and in the future?

Yes, that is definitely our advice to retailers. Omni-channel solutions are not going to disappear, but will continue to become more common and will be indispensable in the near future. Retailers are well advised to adapt to this new situation – also regardless of Corona – and to invest in the expansion of functioning omni-channel solutions. Customers expect the product they want, to be available when they enter a store. And if not, that they can easily have it delivered to the same store or shipped to their home. This only works with very high inventory transparency, for example through our RFID solutions.

 

Keyword: economic efficiency. Creating the much-vaunted personalized perfect shopping experience for the customer costs money, doesn't it? Stock availability, reducing inventories through clearance sales, shelf management, logistics and returns processing – to what extent can you support retailers in increasing their profitability?

NOT creating the perfect shopping experience costs a lot more – dissatisfied customers who haven't found what they want won't come back. To keep up with customer demand, many retailers therefore stock far too much products. In our experience, this amounts to an average of 42,000 items. That costs. These retailers pay high costs for warehouse space, need a lot of time for inventory processes, and end up having to reduce products significantly in order to reduce inventories.
The key to greater profitability lies in inventory accuracy. With the help of RFID technology, we can increase this to up to 99 percent. This allows us to avoid under- or overstocking, reduce the amount of storage space required, and optimize processes, including inventory. RFID can read hundreds of tags simultaneously and is more accurate and faster than manual counting. Experience shows that retailers can increase their sales by an average of three percent with our RFID technology.

 

Even if the situation in retail has eased to some extent as a result of the vaccinations, the shopping situation in on-site stores – viewed optimistically – also requires special precautions, at least for the next few months. With "safer shopping," you offer a package of various components for this purpose. What does it cover?
 
SmartOccupancy is our simple solution for controlling the number of people in salesrooms in real time. The system counts the number of people entering and leaving using Visiplus 3D, an overhead people counting sensor. When the maximum capacity is almost reached, SmartOccupancy sends an alert to the staff. This allows the staff to respond to current occupancy counts in real time, contributing to a safer environment for employees and customers. Those responsible can use SmartOccupancy to implement official instructions on the maximum number of people safely and reliably; manual counting is no longer necessary. A visual capacity indicator clearly shows customers at the door whether they are allowed to enter the store or not.
The second solution is primarily of interest to the textile and clothing industry as well as the footwear market: Inventory Quarantine is a software solution for secure, automated returns (SaaS-based). It allows retailers to park returned goods in an automated quarantine queue for a few hours. After the pre-defined time has passed, Inventory Quarantine notifies employees via push message that the piece of clothing or shoe can be cleared back to the floor or re-tagged as available in the online store. This means that items are only released when they are deemed safe for resale – while ensuring that items are put back on sale promptly. The solution helps retailers keep track of returned goods and minimize the time when products are not available on sale.

 

"Ethical consumption has finally become an attitude and has arrived in the middle of society," trend researcher Peter Wippermann commented on the results of the Otto Group's latest trend study "Living More Consciously". What does sustainability mean to Checkpoint Systems as a company, how do you reflect this finding in your product portfolio and how do you support your customers in achieving sustainability goals?

Sustainability is definitely an important topic for us at Checkpoint Systems. We regularly review our products and processes to see how we can work even more resource-efficiently, reduce production waste and lower our CO2 emissions. This also includes, how we can further reduce the power consumption of our antennas. We only develop and sell RF antennas. This technology is not only safer in terms of exposure to electromagnetic fields, but also more environmentally friendly: RF antennas require 40 to 70 percent less energy than other technologies.

Source:

The Interview was conducted by Ines Chucholowius, Managing Partner, Textination GmbH.

Photo: pixabay
21.09.2021

Virtual Quality Inspection Optimizes Production of Filter Nonwovens

Nonwoven production received more attention than ever before from the general public in Corona times, because the technical textile is crucial for infection protection. The ultra-fine nonwoven products are manufactured in so-called meltblown processes. A cross-departmental team at the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics ITWM in Kaiserslautern is optimizing the entire production chain in the »ProQuIV« project. Simulations help to guarantee the product quality of the filter material despite fluctuations in production.

Nonwoven production received more attention than ever before from the general public in Corona times, because the technical textile is crucial for infection protection. The ultra-fine nonwoven products are manufactured in so-called meltblown processes. A cross-departmental team at the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics ITWM in Kaiserslautern is optimizing the entire production chain in the »ProQuIV« project. Simulations help to guarantee the product quality of the filter material despite fluctuations in production.

The abbreviation »ProQuIV« stands for »Production and Quality Optimization of Nonwoven Infection Protection Clothing«. This is because bottlenecks in the production of these materials were particularly evident at the beginning of the Covid 19 crisis. For the meltblown nonwovens, this optimization of the product quality is also particularly difficult because the textiles react very sensitively to fluctuations in the manufacturing processes and material impurities.

Digital Twin Keeps an Eye on the Big Picture
»Meltblown« is the name of the industrial manufacturing process whose ultra-fine fiber nonwovens are responsible for providing the crucial filtering function in face masks. In this process, the molten polymer is forced through nozzles into a forward-flowing, high-speed stream. It is stretched and cooled in a highly turbulent air flow.

»The overall process of filter media production – from the polymer melt to the filter medium – presents a major challenge in simulation,« explains Dr. Konrad Steiner, head of the »Flow and Materials Simulation« department. »In the project, we kept the big picture in mind and developed a completely integrated evaluation chain as a digital twin. In doing so, we take several key components into account at once: We simulate the typical production processes of nonwovens, the formation of the fiber structures and then the material properties – here, in particular, the filter efficiency. This allows us to quantitatively evaluate the influences of the manufacturing process on the product properties.« In each of these individual areas, Fraunhofer ITWM and its experts are among the leading research groups internationally.

Homogeneity of the Material – Fewer Clouds in the Simulation Sky
In the meltblown process, a key factor is the behavior of the filaments in the turbulent, hot and fast air flow. The properties of the filaments are strongly influenced by this air flow. The quality of the filaments – and thus the quality of the nonwovens – is influenced by many factors. Dr. Dietmar Hietel, head of the »Transport Processes« department, knows what this means more precisely in practice. His team has been working at Fraunhofer ITWM for years on the simulation of various processes involving filaments, threads, and fibers. »The focus of the project is the so-called cloudiness, i.e. the non-uniformity of the fiber distributions in the nonwoven,« explains Hietel. »We are investigating the question: How homogeneous is the fabric? Because the quality of the products can be greatly improved if we increase the uniformity. Our simulations help figure out how to do that.«

Objective Evaluation of the Homogeneity of Nonwovens
The researchers also use appropriate image analysis techniques to quantify this cloudiness. The power spectrum plays a special role here. »The cloudiness index (CLI) describes homogeneity complementary to local basis weight and its variance,« describes Dr. Katja Schladitz. She brings her expertise in image processing to the project. »Our CLI ensures a robust assessment of the homogeneity and can thus be used for different material classes and imaging techniques to be used as an objective measure.« The frequencies that go into the CLI calculation can be chosen so that the CLI is meaningful for the particular application area.

Filtration: How Efficient Are the Filters?
For the upscaling to industrial processes such as mask production, the ITWM expertise in filters is also included in the project. The »Filtration and Separation« team led by Dr. Ralf Kirsch has been working for years on the mathematical modeling and simulation of various separation processes.

»What's special about this project is that we calculated the efficiency of the filters for fluctuations of varying degrees in the fiber volume fraction,« emphasizes Kirsch. »This allows us to specify up to what level of cloudiness the required filter efficiency can be achieved at all.« As a current example of this, the figure depicts in the graphic the efficiency of a filter material for N95 masks as a function of the inhomogeneity of the nonwoven.

ITMW Methods Support Across the Entire Process Chain
In »ProQuIV«, digital twins and calculations from Fraunhofer ITWM support a holistic view and better understanding of the processes. The production of technical textiles thus not only becomes more efficient, but the nonwovens can be developed virtually without having to realize this in advance in a test facility. In this way, production capacities can be increased while maintaining or even increase the quality. Together with long-term partners from industry, the research can be put into practice quickly and efficiently.

Simulations save textile companies experiments, allow new insights, enable systematic parameter variations and solve upscaling problems that can otherwise lead to bad investments during the transition from laboratory plant to industrial plant. However, virtual implementation of nonwoven production also opens up new opportunities for optimization at other levels. For example, acoustic insulating nonwovens or even hygiene nonwovens can also be optimized in terms of their product quality precisely with regard to the material properties to be achieved – while taking into account the process fluctuations that occur.

The project is part of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft's »Fraunhofer versus Corona« program and was completed in April 2021. The results will flow into several follow-up projects with the nonwovens industry.

Photo: pixabay
20.07.2021

Closed-Loop Recycling Pilot Project for Single Use Face Masks

  • Circular economy for plastics: Fraunhofer, SABIC, and Procter & Gamble join forces

The Fraunhofer Cluster of Excellence Circular Plastics Economy CCPE and its Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology UMSICHT have developed an advanced recycling process for used plastics. The pilot project with SABIC and Procter & Gamble serves to demonstrate the feasibility of closed-loop recycling for single-use facemasks.

The transformation from a linear to a circular plastics economy can only succeed with a multi-stakeholder approach. The Fraunhofer Cluster of Excellence Circular Plastics Economy CCPE combines the competencies of six institutes of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and cooperates closely with partners from industry. Together, we work on systemic, technical and social innovations and keep an eye on the entire life cycle of plastic products.  

  • Circular economy for plastics: Fraunhofer, SABIC, and Procter & Gamble join forces

The Fraunhofer Cluster of Excellence Circular Plastics Economy CCPE and its Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology UMSICHT have developed an advanced recycling process for used plastics. The pilot project with SABIC and Procter & Gamble serves to demonstrate the feasibility of closed-loop recycling for single-use facemasks.

The transformation from a linear to a circular plastics economy can only succeed with a multi-stakeholder approach. The Fraunhofer Cluster of Excellence Circular Plastics Economy CCPE combines the competencies of six institutes of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and cooperates closely with partners from industry. Together, we work on systemic, technical and social innovations and keep an eye on the entire life cycle of plastic products.  

Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology UMSICHT is a pioneer in sustainable energy and raw materials management by supplying and transferring scientific results into companies, society and politics. Together with partners, the dedicated UMSICHT team researches and develops sustainable products, processes and services which inspire.

Fraunhofer Institute UMSICHT, SABIC and Procter & Gamble (P&G) are collaborating in an innovative circular economy pilot project which aimed to demonstrate the feasibility of closed-loop recycling of single-use facemasks.

Due to COVID-19, use of billions of disposable facemasks is raising environmental concerns especially when they are thoughtlessly discarded in public spaces, including - parks, open-air venues and beaches. Apart from the challenge of dealing with such huge volumes of essential personal healthcare items in a sustainable way, simply throwing the used masks away for disposal on landfill sites or in incineration plants represents a loss of valuable feedstock for new material.

“Recognizing the challenge, we set out to explore how used facemasks could potentially be returned into the value chain of new facemask production,” says Dr. Peter Dziezok, Director R&D Open Innovation at P&G. “But creating a true circular solution from both a sustainable and an economically feasible perspective takes partners. Therefore, we teamed up with Fraunhofer CCPE and Fraunhofer UMSICHT’s expert scientists and SABIC’s T&I specialists to investigate potential solutions.”

As part of the pilot, P&G collected used facemasks worn by employees or given to visitors at its manufacturing and research sites in Germany. Although those masks are always disposed of responsibly, there was no ideal route in place to recycle them efficiently. To help demonstrate a potential step change in this scenario, special collection bins were set up, and the collected used masks were sent to Fraunhofer for further processing in a dedicated research pyrolysis plant.

“A single-use medical product such as a face mask has high hygiene requirements, both in terms of disposal and production. Mechanical recycling, would have not done the job” explains Dr. Alexander Hofmann, Head of Department Recycling Management at Fraunhofer UMSICHT. “In our solution, therefore, the masks were first automatically shredded and then thermochemically converted to pyrolysis oil.

Pyrolysis breaks the plastic down into molecular fragments under pressure and heat, which will also destroy any residual pollutants or pathogens, such as the Coronavirus. In this way it is possible to produce feedstock for new plastics in virgin quality that can also meet the requirements for medical products” adds Hofmann, who is also Head of Research Department “Advanced Recycling” at Fraunhofer CCPE.

The pyrolysis oil was then sent to SABIC to be used as feedstock for the production of new PP resin. The resins were produced using the widely recognized principle of mass balance to combine the alternative feedstock with fossil-based feedstock in the production process. Mass balance is considered a crucial bridge between today’s linear economy and the more sustainable circular economy of the future.

“The high-quality circular PP polymer obtained in this pilot clearly demonstrates that closed-loop recycling is achievable through active collaboration of players from across the value chain,” emphasizes Mark Vester, Global Circular Economy Leader at SABIC. “The circular material is part of our TRUCIRCLE™ portfolio, aimed at preventing valuable used plastic from becoming waste and at mitigating the depletion of fossil resources.”

Finally, to close the loop, the PP polymer was supplied to P&G, where it was processed into non-woven fibers material. “This pilot project has helped us to assess if the close loop approach could work for hygienic and medical grade plastics.” says Hansjörg Reick, P&G Senior Director Open Innovation. “Of course, further work is needed but the results so far have been very encouraging”.

The entire closed loop pilot project from facemask collection to production was developed and implemented within only seven months. The transferability of advanced recycling to other feedstocks and chemical products is being further researched at Fraunhofer CCPE.

(c) Messe Frankfurt GmbH
13.07.2021

Messe Frankfurt aiming for €500 Million in Sales in 2022

Messe Frankfurt is ready to start up again. Speaking at the Corporate Press Conference earlier today, Wolfgang Marzin, President and Chief Executive Officer of Messe Frankfurt, said: “If the pandemic situation continues to improve, we have every confidence that we will be able to get fully started again in all areas in 2022. We are aiming for sales of over €500 million.”

Mayor Peter Feldmann, Chairman of the Messe Frankfurt Supervisory Board, also stressed: “Our trade fairs, congresses and other events are central elements in the global economy and part of the economic lifeblood of Frankfurt and the Rhine-Main region in particular. I firmly believe that, once the pandemic has passed, Messe Frankfurt will be one of the top players in the international trade fair sector.”

Messe Frankfurt is ready to start up again. Speaking at the Corporate Press Conference earlier today, Wolfgang Marzin, President and Chief Executive Officer of Messe Frankfurt, said: “If the pandemic situation continues to improve, we have every confidence that we will be able to get fully started again in all areas in 2022. We are aiming for sales of over €500 million.”

Mayor Peter Feldmann, Chairman of the Messe Frankfurt Supervisory Board, also stressed: “Our trade fairs, congresses and other events are central elements in the global economy and part of the economic lifeblood of Frankfurt and the Rhine-Main region in particular. I firmly believe that, once the pandemic has passed, Messe Frankfurt will be one of the top players in the international trade fair sector.”

Presuming that the pandemic situation and the restrictions imposed by local authorities permit this, events are also to be organised again at the Group’s Frankfurt base in the second half of this year. Since the pandemic broke out in March 2020, it has been scarcely possible to generate any sales at all in Germany. Outside Germany, Messe Frankfurt was only able to hold events to a limited extent, for example in China. The pandemic brought the Group’s decades of growth to an abrupt halt. Since then, Messe Frankfurt has focused on ensuring sufficient liquidity for the Group, with a flexible but strict budget. There are still no plans for redundancies.

Wolfgang Marzin: “In spite of the strict cutbacks, the backing of our shareholders – the City of Frankfurt and the State of Hesse – means that, even in times like these, we are in a position to seize opportunities and invest counter-cyclically. With outside capital and a shareholder loan, Messe Frankfurt’s financial position has been secured for the current financial year and well into 2022.”

After the final financial report for financial year 2020 was submitted, Group sales were approximately €257 million (2019: approx. €736 million). With a consolidated net loss of around €122 million for the year, the result was far removed from the consolidated net profits of previous years (2019: approx. €50 million). The current financial year will also see a decline in all the Group’s financial performance indicators.

In spite of very difficult conditions, a total of 153 events were held over the past financial year – these included 46 trade fairs and exhibitions (2019: 155) with more than 33,000 (2019: 99,246) exhibiting companies and 1.2 million visitors.

As Wolfgang Marzin summed up: “The need to hold all events entirely in digital form illustrated the importance of face-to-face interaction for success in business.” And Detlef Braun, Member of the Executive Board of Messe Frankfurt, added: “The digital working environment and long-distance interaction that have been our everyday reality for over a year have led to a certain digital fatigue among many people. In the overall context of our events, hybrid events will continue to play an important part and to add value for the sectors.” It is not possible at present to predict exactly how the demand for digital and hybrid formats will actually develop. Wolfgang Marzin: “Changes will be of an evolutionary but lasting nature, with great advances being made in integrating valuable digital elements. Aspects relating to sustainability, growing environmental awareness and experience in digital interaction will lead to changes in behaviour – which, incidentally, was already happening before the coronavirus broke out.”

Messe Frankfurt is planning events in digital, hybrid and in-person formats for the third and fourth quarters of the current financial year. The premiere of Frankfurt Fashion Week took place in digital form under the Frankfurt Fashion Week (FFW) Studio label. Detlef Braun: “Back in April, we opted – together with everyone else involved – to hold an exclusively digital event. With an expected international component of 80 percent, a physical event would not have been feasible given that the pandemic situation was still volatile.” Automechanika Frankfurt Digital Plus will be launched in September according to the Plug & Play principle. As Detlef Braun explains: “We developed a hybrid concept that contains a condensed physical exhibition while also allowing all participants to present themselves and network internationally by digital means.” In 2022, Automechanika will be reverting to its original cycle of being held in even-numbered years. For the first time ever, Hypermotion will be taking place parallel to Automechanika. When Nordstil opens its doors in Hamburg in July, it will be the first in-person Messe Frankfurt event to be held again in Germany.

The 70 or so guest events scheduled to take place in Frankfurt in the second half of the year – including trade fairs like Franchise Expo, White Label World Expo, the Frankfurt Book Fair and Food Ingredients & Health Ingredients Europe – will also be creating new momentum at the Group’s Frankfurt base. Uwe Behm, Member of the Executive Board of Messe Frankfurt, commented: “We are delighted that our contract with DECHEMA has been renewed.” This means that the Frankfurt exhibition grounds will be playing host to ACHEMA – the world forum and leading show for the process industries – until at least 2027. Uwe Behm: “ACHEMA is a prime example of the kind of premium international event and personal interaction that will remain important in the future as well as sending an important signal for our Frankfurt base.”

As Mayor Peter Feldmann concluded: “Even in challenging times, Messe Frankfurt continues to invest in its future and in expanding its portfolio, having added a total of 23 events worldwide since 2020. These include, for example, the Cross Border E-Commerce Fair in Shenzhen – the first event of its kind in China – which was added during the current financial year. As well as this, the Group will be stepping up its activities in the North Chinese city of Tianjin. Located in the centre of the Circum-Bohai-Sea Economic Zone, the city’s economic importance is on a par with that of the Greater Bay Area and Yangtze River Delta and it is set to be a new global trade fair hotspot.”

Volker Nienstedt, Coco Ruch, Frithjof Rödel (c) Marcel Krummrich. Volker Nienstedt, Coco Ruch, Frithjof Rödel
01.06.2021

Textile Art: People need Art - Art needs People

With her textile project "kunst.werke" [art.works], artist Britta Schatton draws attention to Thuringia's diverse art and cultural landscape. Together with photographer Marcel Krummrich, she portrays nine members of the Thuringian art world. The decisive and binding accessory is a hand-dyed and hand-printed scarf made of merino wool-silk-felt, that is individually produced for each artist - each unique piece is created from the personal perception of the respective wearer.

The pandemic has forced many artists to look for another, a virtual audience, due to the restrictions. This was not always successful. Therefore, it is part of the project to give all portrayed a voice about their personal situation in the time determined by Corona. These statements are to be heard on virtual stages.

With her textile project "kunst.werke" [art.works], artist Britta Schatton draws attention to Thuringia's diverse art and cultural landscape. Together with photographer Marcel Krummrich, she portrays nine members of the Thuringian art world. The decisive and binding accessory is a hand-dyed and hand-printed scarf made of merino wool-silk-felt, that is individually produced for each artist - each unique piece is created from the personal perception of the respective wearer.

The pandemic has forced many artists to look for another, a virtual audience, due to the restrictions. This was not always successful. Therefore, it is part of the project to give all portrayed a voice about their personal situation in the time determined by Corona. These statements are to be heard on virtual stages.

Britta Schatton emphasizes: “We all share the basic need to regularly experience and create art and culture as an integral part of life - even in times of pandemic. People need art - art needs people. Especially in pandemic times, when art and culture are increasingly threatened existentially."

The freelance artist prefers to work with felt and has completed her education at the Filzschule Oberrot in Baden-Württemberg under the guidance of Inge Bauer, Beatriz Schaaf-Giesser and Lyda Rump. Since 2012, qualifications with national and international textile artists such as Liz Clay (GB), Pam de Groot (AU), Britta Ankenbauer (DE), Ricarda Aßmann (DE) and Ute Herre (DE) followed. In 2014 she became a member of the artist group TAT Textil Art Thüringen.
          
In 2021, she received a special grant from the Free State of Thuringia for the "kunst.werke" project and was assigned to design the honorary awards for the Bundesgartenschau (Federal Garden Show), which will take place in Erfurt in 2021.

An exhibition of the portraits can be seen in the store gallery ARTenVielfalt of Britta Schatton in Erfurt. Part of the revenue from the sale of the scarves and loops from the limited series will be used to support an institution for the promotion of youth art.

(c) Befeni GmbH
27.04.2021

Befeni: FashionTech contra Fast Fashion

  • Sustainable fashion through highly automated just-in-time production on customer demand

The Befeni Group, based in Langenfeld (North Rhine-Westphalia) and Bangkok (Thailand), is one of the world's leading fashion tech companies with over 200 employees and around 200,000 customised shirts and blouses sold.

Thanks to highly automated processes and just-in-time production, the fashion start-up, which has been on the market for four years, is able to offer individually designed and custom-made fashion of high quality within a very short time. In addition to shirts and blouses, the range also includes jumpers, underwear and accessories.

  • Sustainable fashion through highly automated just-in-time production on customer demand

The Befeni Group, based in Langenfeld (North Rhine-Westphalia) and Bangkok (Thailand), is one of the world's leading fashion tech companies with over 200 employees and around 200,000 customised shirts and blouses sold.

Thanks to highly automated processes and just-in-time production, the fashion start-up, which has been on the market for four years, is able to offer individually designed and custom-made fashion of high quality within a very short time. In addition to shirts and blouses, the range also includes jumpers, underwear and accessories.

At Befeni, customers are measured personally and their data is then recorded in an online system. On this basis, a pattern is created in the in-house production in Bangkok and the garment is produced as an individual one-off. The customised order is then handed over personally by trained Befeni fashion consultants.

By deliberately avoiding middlemen, the company relies on a global value chain and offers fashion from in-house production at convincing conditions: The employees in Bangkok receive above-average pay. The individually made-to-measure shirt is available at a fixed price of 39.90 EUR. And the products are sold exclusively through 5,000 qualified fashion consultants in direct sales.

Sustainable Fashion as a future market

Constant new trends, quickly produced seasonal items in quantities and the disposal of surplus items are part of everyday life in today's fashion world. In the wake of the Corona crisis, this situation has become even more acute.

„We believe that the fast fashion trend is finite and that a rethink will take place among customers, the fashion industry and producers," says Maik Ernst, founder and CEO of Befeni. "Through our highly automated business model, we are able to sell directly from our fair, in-house production, excluding any middlemen. This way, we deliver the high-quality and handmade product a maximum of 3 weeks after receiving the customer's order - with personal advice from over 5,000 qualified, independent fashion consultants."

Jan Fennel, founder of Befeni and managing director of the in-house production in Bangkok, adds: "We also want our employees in Asia to benefit from the direct connection between production and customers. We are proud to give them pleasure not only through a monetary contribution, but also through direct feedback and appreciation - for example via video directly from the customers. With our working conditions, we also want to show that health, fun and care are a central part of the work in our team.“

Rethinking: How fashion is produced and offered

The Befeni tipping principle
The company has developed a system where satisfied customers can give a tip to "their" personal tailors. This goes directly to the tailors in the company's own production without deduction. The company wants to set an example and sees this approach as proof that an international fashion company can actively work for better working conditions in the manufacturing countries.

Facts and figures four years after the company was founded

  • Production
    Befeni produced 30% more blouses and shirts in 2020 compared to the previous year.
    No fast fashion, sustainable, demand-oriented production: production only starts after customer order, made to measure according to the individual measurements of the customers.
  • Increase in turnover
    Turnover generated in 2020: around EUR 6 million, +155% compared to the previous year
  • Number of customers
    +100% compared to the previous year: the number of customers rose from 40,000 to over 80,000, of which almost 10,000 are in Austria
  • Personnel policy
    Permanent employment of employees, above-average salaries and tip principle
  • Customizing: fashion according to individual customer wishes
    Customers can choose from more than 80 fabrics, different collar and cuff shapes and designs for each fashion piece.
(c) Neonyt/Messe Frankfurt GmbH
30.03.2021

Circularity and Fashion: Interview about the Business and Communication Platform Neonyt

Circular instead of throwaway economy - from fast fashion to zero-waste philosophy. The key elements of the circular economy in the fashion business are: Avoiding waste and pollution through new processes, continuous recycling of products and materials, and regeneration of natural systems. Textination talked with Olaf Schmidt, Vice President of Textiles & Textile Technologies, and Thimo Schwenzfeier, Show Director of Neonyt, from Messe Frankfurt about the Neonyt trade show as a business and communication platform for circularity & fashion.
 
It has been about 10 years since Messe Frankfurt ventured onto the "sustainable" fashion trade show stage. Initially with the Ethical Fashion Show, then with the Greenshowroom, there were two trade show formats in Berlin dedicated to the topic of green fashion. What prompted you as a trade show organizer to launch such a special format in Germany at that time?

Circular instead of throwaway economy - from fast fashion to zero-waste philosophy. The key elements of the circular economy in the fashion business are: Avoiding waste and pollution through new processes, continuous recycling of products and materials, and regeneration of natural systems. Textination talked with Olaf Schmidt, Vice President of Textiles & Textile Technologies, and Thimo Schwenzfeier, Show Director of Neonyt, from Messe Frankfurt about the Neonyt trade show as a business and communication platform for circularity & fashion.
 
It has been about 10 years since Messe Frankfurt ventured onto the "sustainable" fashion trade show stage. Initially with the Ethical Fashion Show, then with the Greenshowroom, there were two trade show formats in Berlin dedicated to the topic of green fashion. What prompted you as a trade show organizer to launch such a special format in Germany at that time?

Olaf Schmidt: Messe Frankfurt's Texpertise Network brings together the world's most important textile trade shows - at around 60 events worldwide, we show what drives the textile and fashion industry. We present the current topics and trends and set impulses for the entire textile value chain. Messe Frankfurt recognized the need for a suitable platform for the future topic of sustainability at an early stage. It was therefore obvious to expand our expertise in the field of fashion and to meet the demand from this segment. To achieve this, we have adapted and realigned existing formats: After launching the Ethical Fashion Show in Paris in 2004, Messe Frankfurt France took over the event in 2010. Two years later, Messe Frankfurt founded the Ethical Fashion Show Berlin in Germany and found, with the moving of the event to the polarizing capital, the ideal location for the coming years. Messe Frankfurt merged the already existing Greenshowroom with the Ethical Fashion Show, and from January 2015 the two shows took place in one venue. For Messe Frankfurt, hosting these events was the next logical step on our way to a sustainable fashion future - the concept is now established in the sustainable fashion market and has a continuous growth potential. The merging of the trade show duo in 2019, with the current name Neonyt, allowed us, our exhibitors and visitors a new content orientation and a holistic approach to the topic of sustainability as well as a more direct access to the conventional fashion market, especially with regard to retail. In summer 2021, Neonyt will take place for the first time in the new fashion hotspot Frankfurt as part of the new Frankfurt Fashion Week.

 
In 2019, both event formats were merged, the new trade show Neonyt was born and 1 + 1 became what? What components does Neonyt offer in addition to the previous trade show concepts, what is so "new-new" and how did you actually come up with the name?

Thimo Schwenzfeier: One plus one, as you so nicely put it, did not simply add up to two with Neonyt. One plus one equals unique, neo-new, internationally relevant: Among other things, the trade show business was supplemented by the international conference format Fashionsustain and a showcase to gradually bring
together the topic of sustainability with the topics of technology, innovation and prepress. Our content creator format Prepeek ensures the necessary lifestyle and the fashion show provides the glamour of the fashion world. Neonyt combines the most important elements of the international textile and fashion industry - style, business, inspiration, innovation, knowledge, fun and community. And that is exactly what makes Neonyt so "new-new". Progressive and polarizing - the artificial word Neonyt is derived from the ancient Greek word "neo" (eng. new, revolutionary) and the Scandinavian word "nytt" (eng. new). "The renewed new" - Neonyt is our synonym for the fundamental transformation process of the textile and fashion industry, a reinterpretation of what has already been there and our commitment not to stand still and to promote positive change together.

 
For the Neonyt trade show format, you have teamed up with partners - for example, for conferencing components and in the design area. What expertise do they provide, and what is the added value for exhibitors and visitors?

Thimo Schwenzfeier: We know which future topics our brands and the community are currently dealing with and therefore create the right platform - for personal encounters and exchange, for networking and successful business deals. To put it simply: we organize trade shows, we organize events, we provide the right setting, we connect people and business. Neonyt therefore forms the global interface between the various players in the textile and fashion industry - between industry, trade, politics, services and consumption. And so that a lively, transparent and, above all, authentic dialog can develop between all counterparts, we naturally draw on the knowledge of industry experts and form strong partnerships to push fashion and sustainability forward. Only together can we achieve real change and guarantee that our community is provided with sufficient and, above all, the right information to make self-determined decisions.
 

In recent years, the keyword circularity - or rather closing the loop - has been encountered everywhere in the fashion industry. Whether Stella McCartney, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, or large retail groups - many players and decision-makers are of the opinion that the future of the fashion world lies only in a circular economy and not in downcycling of any kind. What is Neonyt's view on this?
         
Thimo Schwenzfeier: That's right, the concept of circular economy is not new, nor is it limited to the textile and fashion industry. Circularity - actually the ultimate for every product, every industry, for our global society. The concept is supposedly simple: All materials and products are kept in a closed loop, the useful life is increased and at the end of the product life cycle everything is recycled. Many sustainable fashion labels are already showing how it's done. Neonyt brands are right at the forefront and are already implementing practices that should become the norm as soon as possible: starting with T-shirts or shoes made from recycled materials and take-back systems for collection items. As well as compostable clothing that "dissolves" at the end of the product life cycle and breaks down into its natural components, and on to repair services and leasing models for denim and co. - thinking holistically, acting in a sustainable manner and producing in a circular way are definitely the trends of the coming fashion seasons and at least one important, if not the most important, component of the future fashion world.

 
For the idea of a circular economy to be implemented successfully, there needs to be an interplay between technology, production, design and sales. What presentation options and forms of communication does Neonyt have in store for the various components?  

Thimo Schwenzfeier: The combined innovative power of technology, sustainability and digitization is an important driver of the current developments in the textile and fashion industry - including the topic of circularity. Processes and production sequences are changing along the entire value chain - the industry has to reinvent itself for the most part. Neonyt shows how this can work successfully in the long term, with the internationally established Fashionsustain conference format - including spin-offs in China, Europe and the USA - and the supplementary Showcase. Together, these two formats offer the ideal mix of orientation and inspiration to prepare the industry for the future. Virtual fashion, authentic brands and textile value chains, science and innovation as well as retail, business models and impact investment - at Fashionsustain, top-class experts will exchange ideas with an interested professional audience and discuss the change and new solutions in the textile and fashion industry. The Neonyt Showcase takes a deeper look at the topics and innovations presented and discussed on the Fashionsustain stage. Expert knowledge on-demand, so to speak: whether microfactories or installations - Neonyt brands as well as brands from the rest of the Texpertise Network of Messe Frankfurt, such as exhibitors at Texprocess, get the chance to present sustainable innovations, new technologies and materials, initiatives, change-maker campaigns or research projects. Here they interact directly and practically with Neonyt's international cross-sector community.
 

Last year was an unprecedented challenge for trade show companies due to the pandemic situation. Neonyt was also affected by this - and physical events had to be canceled. With a digital format "Neonyt on Air" you have tried to offer exhibitors and visitors an alternative platform. What has been your experience: Did the focus of the trade show and its community perhaps even help to make such a virtual event easier to launch? 

Olaf Schmidt: Corona has already changed a lot and will certainly continue to do so in one way or another. Nevertheless, it will continue to be our task as trade show organizers to offer the industry the best possible meeting platforms for presenting their new products worldwide. We are convinced that people will continue to want to meet in person and discuss new products as well as services in the future. This is particularly the case in the textile sector, where haptics plays a very crucial role. We expect that there will even be a certain catch-up effect after the crisis. Because what the last two very successful digital seasons of Neonyt on Air, for example, have nevertheless shown clearly: Fashion lives from personalities, presentation and inspiration. Digital formats can support this, but they cannot fully replace it.
 
Thimo Schwenzfeier: The digital Neonyt on Air was far from being a total replacement for the original physical seasons, but nevertheless a huge success. For one week, fashion, lifestyle and digital experts were discussing about more authenticity, immediacy and transparency in the textile and fashion industry in numerous keynotes, interviews and panel discussions. With more than 24,000 international followers on Instagram, we generated around 50,000 impressions and more than 4,700 content interactions with our presenting partners Grüner Knopf, Hessnatur and Oeko-Tex in just five days. These figures show, that the topic of sustainability has arrived in the middle of society and is being discussed across all industries. I think that the polarization and, above all, the prevailing restrictions, as far as trade and commerce are concerned, have certainly contributed to holding a successful digital format. Digitization was truly the booster for the fashion industry in this case: Instead of replacing personal exchange, it helps to maintain and expand the business activities of brands, especially in the current times. And quite clearly, the need for exchange in the fashion industry and the motivation to initiate together a change are still enormous. Neonyt on Air has once again shown us that clearly. However, we are already looking forward to the next physical edition of Neonyt.
 

The COVID-19 pandemic has also left its mark on the textile and clothing industry. When you look back on just under a year of "state of emergency" - what positive experiences do you take with you, where do you see a need for improvement, for what support are you grateful for and where did you feel you were left on your own? 

Olaf Schmidt: A year like no other - that can clearly be said about the last one. The Corona pandemic caught everyone off guard - us as trade show organizers, but of course also our exhibitors, visitors and partners. Especially in the near future, we must continue to expect, that trade shows can only be held under stricter health and safety regulations at first. Messe Frankfurt reacted quickly and developed a comprehensive safety and hygiene concept. One thing was clear: we all had to adjust and deal with a new situation. And so far, we've done a great job together, the team understanding among each other, the close contact - although physically at a distance, but globally networked - between all those involved, makes me feel positive about the future. For me, an important realization of this global pandemic, a credo almost, is to be open to new ways and opportunities and to find ways to combine things rather than separate them: Hybrid solutions, so to speak.    

Thimo Schwenzfeier: There was no master plan for Neonyt, and in places there was also the impression that we now had to "reinvent the wheel": How does collaboration work when face-to-face meetings cannot take place? Can digitized contact compensate for the social distancing that is currently being imposed and still make it possible to work closely together? How can business relationships be maintained when stores are closed? How can priorities be set when well-tested solutions and established annual plans lose their validity? Who am I, who are 'the others' and what defines community? Never have questions about our creation and existence, about what makes us who we are and what we want to be, been more relevant than right now. One thing that I take away from the current situation and that allows me to continue to look forward positively despite difficult circumstances is the fact, that cohesion and solidarity with one another - both privately and professionally - have become increasingly important. Like a magnifying glass, the crisis has magnified existing opportunities, but also challenges, and brought the essentials into focus. I think that if we continue to try to experience things more consciously and not take them for granted, we will manage together to create a " new normal " and leave this crisis with more strength.
 

As in the past in Berlin, Neonyt is currently also located in Frankfurt in the environment of the Fashion Week and conventional trade shows. Can you imagine that a special event concept like Neonyt will be unnecessary in a few years, because the circularity concept will have established itself in the clothing industry worldwide?

Olaf Schmidt: A clear no. Sustainability per se is already no longer a unique selling point. The important thing is to keep up with the times, to follow trends or, even better, to track down new trends yourself and develop them further. Things, strategies, concepts will always change - if last year showed us one thing, it was certainly that. It is more than desirable that we all learn from this crisis and reflect on the really important values, on solidarity between partners, on climate protection and sustainability. It may be exactly for this reason, that companies that place particular emphasis on sustainability will emerge even stronger from this crisis. So you can be sure that we, as a leading international trade show organizer for the textile industry, will continue to focus on sustainability and support future-oriented companies and solutions. However, this will not make our formats obsolete due to the establishment and normalization of holistic business practices in the textile industry. But it is impossible to make an exact forecast for the coming decades. Over the last few months, we have all noticed ourselves in our personal everyday lives or in our professional lives, how uncertain and volatile the future is. What is clear, however, is that the fashion industry - the world in general - will change even faster than before. And therein lies the opportunity for formats like Neonyt. The ten-year history shows in how many directions Neonyt has already developed, content focal points have been shifted and it has reinvented itself - this will also be the case in the future.
 

Mr. Schwenzfeier, in addition to your role as Director of Marketing Communications for Messe Frankfurt's textile exhibitions, you have also been Show Director of Neonyt since 2018. You have spoken to many exhibitors and visitors - which ideas or creations have particularly impressed you?

Thimo Schwenzfeier: I think it's not so much the individual innovations or creations of the exhibitors at our trade shows. And I deliberately choose the plural here. Because in my function as Director of Marketing Communications in the Textiles & Textile Technologies division of Messe Frankfurt, Neonyt is just one of "my" events. I think it's more the variety of fashion, technical and professional innovations that brands, labels, companies, start-ups and designers present every year. But if I really had to choose one innovation, it would probably be the vegan "Currywurst" sneakers made of red pepper and recycled PET bottles - the same label also offers shoes made of wood, stone, coffee and mushrooms or now even meteorite particles. It is impressive to experience every season anew of how creative the textile and fashion industry is.
 

Breaking new ground means being willing to make decisions, overcoming fears - and thus also having the courage to fail. Not every project can succeed. In retrospect, about which entrepreneurial decision by Messe Frankfurt are you particularly glad, that you made?
 
Olaf Schmidt: Clearly the decision to create Neonyt. To establish our own trade show format for fashion, sustainability and innovation and to integrate the freedom and lifestyle, which entail this topic, into our event. After more than a decade, we may be saying goodbye to Berlin in 2021, but not to our community and our spirit. Together we look back on many fashionable seasons and great locations in the capital: starting in the Hotel Adlon Kempinski to the Ewerk, the Postbahnhof, the Kronprinzenpalais, the Funkhaus and the Kraftwerk to the last physical event in Tempelhof. With the turn of the year and in the setting of Frankfurt Fashion Week, Neonyt is about to move to the metropolis by the Main. In Frankfurt, worlds collide: Skyscrapers and 19th-century villas. Architectural sins and masterpieces. Business and middle class. Red-light district and luxury boulevard. Frankfurt Fashion Week sets new impulses in this area of conflict. And in the middle of all this is Neonyt. The signs are pointing to a new beginning - a restart for the entire fashion industry, together we are taking sustainability to the next level - the focus topics Applied Sustainability and Applied Digitization are creating a completely new Fashion Week ecosystem in the metropolis by the Main.
 

If everything works out, Neonyt can be held again as a face-to-face event for the first time in July 2021. What are your plans? What and who can visitors look forward to? And what backup is there for a worst-case scenario?

Thimo Schwenzfeier: Of course, due to the currently ongoing tense situation around Covid-19, it is difficult to make binding statements about the next physical event. However, we are cur rently expecting the situation to ease into the summer summer 2021 is therefore on the health of everyone - exhibitors, visitors, partners and employees of Neonyt. Messe Frankfurt has developed a concept that includes detailed hygienic measures: Hygiene, distance and fresh air supply are important factors, which we coordinate with the responsible authorities in Frankfurt and those in charge of Frankfurt Fashion Week. In due course, the Neonyt community will receive advice and recommendations for the trade show attendance and participation, that comply with current regulations. We have not yet thought about a concrete backup for a worst-case scenario, as we are currently anticipating a physical B2B event - but the last two seasons have shown, should it not be possible to hold the Neonyt face-to-face, that we are quite well positioned with the digital Neonyt on Air and could certainly adapt the format for another summer event. We regularly exchange ideas with all market participants and try to get a sense of opinions and wishes from our community through surveys. Wait and see, one might say - in the end, we also have to act according to what the current health situation allows and what decisions are made by politicians.

The Interview was conducted by Ines Chucholowius,
Managing Partner, Textination GmbH

(c) pixabay
02.03.2021

Study on Purchasing Behavior during the Corona Crisis in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Sweden

Rogator / exeo investigate for the second time the purchasing behavior during the Corona crisis in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Sweden ("OpinionTRAIN") and presented the results:

Rogator / exeo investigate for the second time the purchasing behavior during the Corona crisis in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Sweden ("OpinionTRAIN") and presented the results:

  • Declining frequency of visits to discounters and more visits to hypermarkets
  • Significant shift in consumer behavior: More spending on groceries
  • Dynamic pricing is rejected by consumers
  • Online retail: The crisis winner (especially among younger consumers)

Supermarkets and hypermarkets have benefited from the Corona crisis in multiple ways. Firstly, the spending on groceries by German households has risen significantly (more home office, less traveling, more time spent with family and on cooking). Secondly, in 2020, the sales market share of discounters fell by around 1 percentage point to 42.1%, while full-range retailers gained 1.5 percentage points (to 34.8% market share).

“With the continuously growing competition and the existing distribution struggles, it is not surprising if the news on the grocery trade increasingly contain the tenor price war again in the new year. The increase in VAT at the beginning of the year has speeded up the price competition”, says Johannes Hercher, CEO of Rogator AG and co-author of the OpinionTRAIN study

An overview of the results:

Declining frequency of visits to discounters and more visits to hypermarkets
While shopping in all four countries surveyed most frequently took place in supermarkets in the past 2 months (Visits in the past 2 months: Germany 81%, Austria 86%, Switzerland 79%, and Sweden 79%), Germany has the highest percentage of respondents (71%), compared to other countries, who purchased groceries at discounters. Against all expectations, the leading discounters such as Aldi and Lidl have performed relatively worse than the full-range retailers during the Corona crisis. Compared to the first data collection (Apr./May2020), the share of consumers with purchases in discounters in Germany decreased from 74% to currently 71%, the share of shoppers in supermarkets remained unchanged (81%), and the consumer rate for hypermarkets (e.g. Real, Kaufland) increased significantly (from 34% to 44%). While especially older consumers are staying more loyal to the discounter, the consumer rate in the <30 age group is particularly low at 53%. Instead, online grocery shopping shows a high relevance among younger consumers. Almost one in three respondents said, that they had ordered groceries online in the past 2 months.

Significant shift in consumer behavior: More spending on groceries
The crisis situation is leading to massive changes in purchasing behavior. In almost all types of grocery shops, the frequency of visits has decreased, except for online shopping and organic food stores. The reaction patterns of the consumers are becoming increasingly entrenched. As already observed in Apr./May 2020, consumers are going less frequently to grocery stores, but are purchasing more items per visit. In many cases, the discounters do not meet the consumers' need for complete purchases. This is bitter in many respects. In Germany, for example, around a quarter of respondents say, that their spending on food increased during the Corona crisis (5 % are assuming a decrease), while this is the exact opposite (8% increase and 21% decrease in expenses) for clothing (textile, without sports). These figures reflect a massive shift in consumption. This is an indicator that Corona has also changed the statistical market basket. For 2020, the inflation rate for groceries is reported at 2.4%. In this case, most of the change in spending habits can be explained by a quantity effect.

Dynamic pricing is rejected by consumers
Since price flexibility is being discussed in retail as the new "silver bullet to increase margins," the OpinionTRAIN study took a closer look at consumers' views on dynamic pricing ("when demand goes up, the price goes up; when demand goes down, the price goes down"). Results: The consumers' enthusiasm for dynamic pricing in retailing is rather limited. This is not a German phenomenon. In all four countries, the rejection of dynamic pricing is greater than the approval. For retail companies, the "total rejection" segment presents a major threat in particular. This group includes about one-third of consumers and rejects flexible pricing in all 20 product categories presented. Many consumers clearly long for continuity, especially in times of significant changes in terms of retail prices. Although consumers who have already had experience of dynamic pricing (prices can change every hour) in online retailing are more relaxed about the issue, the implementation of dynamic pricing nevertheless involves a significant risk of damage to the customer relationship and a lasting loss of trust.

Online retail: The crisis winner (especially among younger consumers)
The reinforcement of online sales observed in recent years is receiving a new boost due to Corona. The shift in purchasing in favor of online retailing is evident in all four countries, with the strongest showing in Sweden. Here, 40% of consumers say that they ordered more online during the Corona crisis (8% less). Similar results, slightly more moderate, are also seen in Germany (29% more, 9% less ordered online). The demand shift in favor of online purchasing is particularly strong among younger consumers under the age of 30, while it is relatively weak among the age group of 60+.

“It is becoming increasingly apparent, that Corona will also have a medium-term impact on demand behavior. For instance, consumer preferences also seem to diverge more along age segments: On the one hand, the younger consumers are directing towards omnichannel shopping, where even fluctuating prices are not a major problem. And on the other hand, the older consumers prefer in-store shopping and have a strong desire for stable and reliable prices”, summarizes Prof. Dr. Andreas Krämer, CEO of exeo Strategic Consulting AG and professor at the University of Applied Sciences in Iserlohn as co-author of the OpinionTRAIN study.

Source:

Rogator AG

(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:

Bild Gerd Altmann, Pixabay
02.02.2021

5th Otto Group Trend Study: Ethical consumption established in German mainstream

Ethical consumption seems to have arrived at the center of society. 70 percent of respondents in the current trend study state that ethical criteria have become a fixed component of their purchasing decisions. 82 percent are in favor of a longer product life and greater material efficiency. And 63 percent are now even willing to bear the additional costs for climate-neutral products. The Otto Group's fifth Trend Study 2020 on ethical consumption formulates provocative theses that encourage rethinking and a new fresh view on the post-Corona world. 

Ethical consumption seems to have arrived at the center of society. 70 percent of respondents in the current trend study state that ethical criteria have become a fixed component of their purchasing decisions. 82 percent are in favor of a longer product life and greater material efficiency. And 63 percent are now even willing to bear the additional costs for climate-neutral products. The Otto Group's fifth Trend Study 2020 on ethical consumption formulates provocative theses that encourage rethinking and a new fresh view on the post-Corona world. 

The trend towards ethical consumption has been observed for many years. Meanwhile, the focus of consumers has changed significantly. They no longer just want to do something good for themselves, they increasingly want to make a difference for others with their consumption. This has noticeable consequences for companies now, because those whose business activities demonstrably harm the environment and nature are finding it increasingly difficult to compete. Companies that do not share the values of their customers, which they believe in and hold on to, quickly lose the trust of their customers. And those who evade their responsibility for the common welfare, are sometimes even boycotted.

"The demands for sustainable changes in our economic system to politics and companies, and the willingness to take responsibility have reached the center of society," says the head of the study, Prof. Peter Wippermann of Trendbuero.

Key results of the current 2020 trend study include:

Ethical consumption becomes mainstream
For 70 percent of Germans, ethical criteria have become an essential part of their purchasing decisions. 20 percent of the respondents even say that they buy more consciously according to ethical criteria since the Corona crisis. Corona has led many people to rethink; purchasing decisions better thought-out, check whether they are necessary they seem to be taking on a different significance in the lives of individuals.
 
The throwaway society is becoming a discontinued model
82 percent of those surveyed are prepared to join the path from a throwaway society to a circular economy, and they are in favor of longer product lives and greater material efficiency. In addition, 63 percent would bear the additional costs for climate-neutral products. Here, too, is a change in the attitude of consumers, who appear to be increasingly willing to pay for the emissions they cause.
     
Sharing and second-hand are trending among consumers
The study shows that 73 percent of respondents think it is good to buy or sell used things such as worn fashion or old furniture. 54 percent of respondents even plan to borrow more in the future. While in 2013 52 percent of respondents were willing to share, swap, borrow or buy used things, by 2020 this figure had already risen to 64 percent.

Consumers increasingly recognize the limits of unbridled growth
70 percent of those surveyed foresee serious difficulties for people and the environment if we continue to consume without restraint. 77 percent of Germans are in favor of industrialized countries taking on more responsibility in the fight against climate change and providing more support for poorer countries. 60 percent can now imagine paying the true costs of environmental pollution and climate change when making purchases. These results suggest that the importance of ethical consumption has not only been established in the people’s minds, but there is also an increasing willingness to dig deeper into their pockets for it.

Politics should set the framework for more ethical consumption
There is also a turnaround in the question of who should ensure more ethical consumption. 41 percent of Germans consider politics to be the driving force behind ethical consumption, 23 percent the economy and 22 percent each individual. In 2011 and 2013, only 27 percent of respondents thought that politicians should be held more accountable for this.

It is also interesting to note that the issue of consumer responsibility continues to grow: 70 percent of all respondents say that ethical criteria are now an essential part of their purchasing considerations. In 2013, the figure was only by 63 percent. Baby boomers (born up to 1964) in particular are pushing the purchase of ethical products. While in 2013 it was 65 percent who bought ethical products more often, by 2020 79 percent were already purchasing according to ethical criteria more frequently. Also interesting: 68 percent of those surveyed would boycott a supplier that behaves unfairly toward its employees and creates poor working conditions.

Alexander Birken, Chairman of the Executive Board of the Otto Group: "The question of whether our way of living and doing business needs to be adjusted is being asked more and more loudly. At least, this is confirmed by the results of this fifth trend study. We in the Otto Group want to make a difference, because it has been our belief for generations that, in the end, the economy must serve the people, not the other way around. However, to achieve this, we all have to change. Away from the throwaway society, toward sustainable and recyclable products, and a resource-friendly production method in which human rights are regarded higher and in which respect and mindfulness toward nature take on a new significance."

For the study, the results of a survey of 1,149 Germans between the ages of 14 and 74 from October 2020 were combined with perspectives based on trend research.
Download (only available in German)

More information:
ethical consumption Otto study
Source:

Otto Group

Grafic: Gerd Altmann, pixabay
19.01.2021

IW Association Survey: Textile industry and Banks particularly pessimistic

Things can only get better

At the turn of the year, the German Economic Institute (IW) traditionally asked German associations about their economic expectations for the coming year. Most industries are reporting incisive difficulties and are hoping for an improvement in 2021. However, many companies will cut jobs - especially where there were have been already problems before the pandemic started.

Things can only get better

At the turn of the year, the German Economic Institute (IW) traditionally asked German associations about their economic expectations for the coming year. Most industries are reporting incisive difficulties and are hoping for an improvement in 2021. However, many companies will cut jobs - especially where there were have been already problems before the pandemic started.

At the end of the year, the German economy looked back on one of the most difficult years in recent history. The Covid-19 pandemic already hit many companies in spring 2020, and the current winter and the second wave have put struggling sectors under further strain. It is still not possible to predict when the situation will noticeably improve. This is also reflected in the traditional IW association survey: 34 of 43 associations interrogated reported a worse economic situation than the year ago. Those reporting an improved or unchanged position were often already in a difficult economic situation in the previous year. These include, the automotive and chemical industries respectively.

Four out of five companies in Germany at the turn of 2020/2021 judge the mood even worse than a year before. This crisis-prone initial position partly explains in general optimistic business expectations for 2021. According to the IW’s association survey, higher economic activity is expected in 26 of 43 sectors. By contrast, 13 associations expect a decrease in production in 2021. While there is a moderate recovery in investments overall, employment is expected to decline further in 23 sectors.

Looking ahead to 2021, the IW Association Survey is dominated by confidence. This is not surprising understanding this confidence as an improvement on the crisis year 2020. The expected increases can be explained having the massive drop in view as well as a poor starting point in 2020. For a number of companies and entire industries, this hopeful outlook for 2021 does not necessarily mean a return to pre-crisis production levels. The IW business survey with more than 2,200 companies conducted in November 2020 consistently shows, that around half of the companies surveyed still expect shortfalls in production by 2022 compared to the pre-crisis level (IW Research Group Macroeconomic Analysis and Business Cycle, 2020).

Textile industry and banks particularly pessimistic
After all, most associations are confident with a view to 2021, expecting their situation to improve - although the pre-crisis level is not yet in sight for many sectors. 26 associations are planning increased production for the coming year. 13 associations - including shipbuilding and marine technology, textile and fashion associations, and the food industry - predict lower production. Banks and construction companies also have subdued expectations for 2021, although the pandemic has had relatively little impact on these industries up to now.

Less jobs in the automotive industry
The outlook for the employment market is less optimistic: Only five of 43 associations surveyed expect their member companies to employ more people in the coming year. This includes the construction industry and handicraft businesses, which already suffered from a shortage of skilled workers before the crisis. 23 associations expect a reduction in employment, especially for industrial site. Particularly pessimistic are associations with member companies facing structural adjustment burdens in addition to the corona pandemic – like in the area of finance:

In the previous years, fewer and fewer customers used branches of banks. The automotive industry is also planning with fewer employees: In addition to the weak global economy, are strict exhaust emission limits and quotas for electric mobility put companies under pressure. Exports, which are extremely important for the industry, decreased by a similar amount.

The few industry associations whose members - on average across all enterprises and subsectors - are in the same or better position than at the previous turn of the year, are often sectors that were already in a difficult economic situation at the turn of 2019/2020. The automotive industry, segments of the metal and electrical industry as well as the chemical industry point to this. The Covid-19 crisis already records a negative history for parts of the industry. 2019 the downturn in business was partly the result of a cyclical normalization after a phase of high capacity utilization. Above all, protectionism and geopolitical uncertainties weighed on global investment activity, and hit the German industry, which is heavily involved in the international capital goods business. Technological challenges - due to digitization and climate change for example - also created adjustment burdens.

Source:

German Economic Institute, Prof. Michael Grömling Head of the Macroeconomic Analysis and Business Cycle Research Group

(c) Claudia Bitzer
05.01.2021

Telling good Stories - PR Challenges of the medium-sized Textile Industry

Interview with Claudia Bitzer, Owner Bitzer PR, Albstadt

The past year was not only a big economic challenge for many companies, but also in terms of communication - whether in advertising or in PR topics - new ground had to be broken. Contact restrictions up to a strict lockdown, the cancellation of many trade fairs, congresses or other event formats made it necessary to rethink.

Textination discussed it with Claudia Bitzer, owner of the PR agency of the same name in Albstadt, Baden-Württemberg. Her customers include medium-sized companies from the textile and clothing industry as well as machinery manufacturers, public clients and the media.

Interview with Claudia Bitzer, Owner Bitzer PR, Albstadt

The past year was not only a big economic challenge for many companies, but also in terms of communication - whether in advertising or in PR topics - new ground had to be broken. Contact restrictions up to a strict lockdown, the cancellation of many trade fairs, congresses or other event formats made it necessary to rethink.

Textination discussed it with Claudia Bitzer, owner of the PR agency of the same name in Albstadt, Baden-Württemberg. Her customers include medium-sized companies from the textile and clothing industry as well as machinery manufacturers, public clients and the media.

With your PR agency based in Albstadt, you have also been busy in the textile industry for a good 5 years. If you had to introduce yourself in 100 words to someone who doesn't know you: Why did you decide to become your own boss after working for an agency, and what distinguishes your work?
Actually, self-employment gave me a call: An acquaintance suggested that I take over the communication for his employer, a textile machine manufacturer in the Alb, as a freelancer. When I was on the phone, I had our ten-day-old son in my arms. I was also a PR consultant at Ketchum in Stuttgart. Because I was curious, I got to grips with the matter over the next few months. With success: The textile machines have turned out to be surprisingly tangible products, after all, they make the clothes that we wear on our bodies every day. From this my access to the textile industry developed, which I would call my home base today.

Because I serve various companies along the textile chain, I have an overall view of the industry and can offer overarching stories with different perspectives. I also have a weakness for complex, "dusty" topics, regardless of the industry. I can delve in them with devotion in order to present them vividly. That's why I would call myself a content specialist.

In addition to German, English, Spanish and French, you speak Swabian fluently. Why is it important to have regional roots when you work for export-oriented companies in the textile industry in Baden-Württemberg?
You got that about fluent Swabian from my website, right? (Laughs) But yes, it is very helpful if you can feel whether "gschwind" – Swabian for “pretty fast” - tolerates a delay or has to be dealt with immediately.

I think the Swabian is really important in terms of the mentality behind it. I grew up in the Alb, my father ran a medium-sized company of his own. I understand many things without a customer having to explain them to me.

For example, modesty in relation to one's own person. Especially in long-established family businesses, the owners play an important role. They bear a great responsibility, both in the company and at their location. Nevertheless, the focus is always on the entrepreneurial performance, the product that, manufactured somewhere in the Swabian province, can keep up with the German, European or global competition. That doesn't happen by itself, but requires courage, entrepreneurial spirit and a great deal of openness to new things, and that fascinates me. I also often notice that by the passion, that these leading family businesses bring with them, I am carried away.

Breaking new ground means being willing to make decisions, overcoming fears - and thus also having the courage to fail. Not every project can succeed. In retrospect, which entrepreneurial decision are you particularly glad to have made?
Apart from being self-employed? The first corona lockdown with home schooling and closed daycare centers was a big challenge. On the one hand, I was relieved that it became quieter on the customer side between the end of March and the beginning of June, otherwise it would not have been feasible either professionally or in terms of family. On the other hand, this silence scared me and I often asked myself whether self-employment was the right way to go.

In early summer, when the situation on all sides had stabilized somewhat, I tackled the problem head on: I looked for co-working spaces and took extensive further training in online marketing. Being honest, of course, these were business decisions. Fortunately, they are already paying off, even if I may sit alone in the office for now.

Is there any work you are particularly proud of? Which story moved you beyond normal and which thematic challenges do you love?
One project that I fondly remember is the communication referring to a repdigit anniversary one of my clients was celebrating. For this, I first put 111 years of the company’s history down on paper in weeks, no, months of archive work. Because I had delved so deeply into the subject, I came up with many ideas for the messages of the anniversary celebration. Fortunately, the client was quickly convinced. At some point we had a signet, a slogan and a really good story for the anniversary. Incidentally, we still benefit from the numerous proof points we worked out for the occasion in our product and corporate communications today.

In addition, the project has naturally deepened the relationship with this client. I also work closely with the advertising agency that accompanied the anniversary communication. I consider such long-term partnerships as a great asset.

Have the messages you want or need to communicate for your clients changed in Corona times? And what was the focus of your work in 2020?
Unsurprisingly, the focus of work in 2020 was on online communication. For almost all of my customers we will start planning and implementing new measures in this area in the coming year.

As for the messages, little has altered. This is certainly due to the fact that the meta-topics have remained the same. Take sustainability, definitely a long-running favorite in the textile industry, and the sub-topic regionality. In contrast to previous crises, the Corona pandemic has not sidelined these approaches, but intensified them because it has shown us how dependent we are on production abroad. The same applies to the issues of transparency and quality.

Precisely because the themes have stayed the same, the crucial part for me is to find a unique story within these permanent themes so as not to disappear into the big river. That requires empathy, creativity - and a good portion of diligence.

Moving away from the simple advertising message to storytelling - what recommendation would you give medium-sized companies in general regarding their communication for the coming year? Are there any special features that the textile industry in particular should consider?
I think that will go in the direction of "We are still there, and even stronger than before". After all, the crisis demanded a lot from everyone. But it is always a productive phase, because when it comes to a head, it forces us to develop further that otherwise would not have been initiated or at least would have been initiated later. Therefore, it can represent a turning point, definitely for the better.

Take digitization, which is the most obvious approach: the crisis has given rise to a boost in this area; the online shop was or is to be expanded, the service is to become more digital.

Apart from that, there are certain individual changes in every company that the crisis has brought about. You can have the courage to name and tell them, because these are stories that interest everyone.

Goodbye Facebook - good morning TikTok. Which social media platforms do you recommend to your clients and under what conditions should medium-sized companies get involved?
TikTok has so far been more of a topic that I discuss with my daughter, who is almost 12 years old. But seriously: I recently read in a study published by Hootsuite that at the beginning of 2020, less than ten percent of Germans were using TikTok. On Facebook, the user share is still over 60 percent. For that reason alone, we shouldn't simply dismiss Facebook.

When I discuss the topic of social media with my clients, it is important for me not to think from the channels. Sure, it's tempting, but other questions should be asked at the beginning: What is the long-term goal of the social media activities? What resources are available - and what budgets? By now it is well known that social media is an extensive field of activity in its own right, which ties up corresponding resources. In medium-sized businesses, where I rarely have access to a multi-headed marketing team, a solid strategy is the be-all and end-all. It must be very, very clear which target groups are to be addressed. Then I can talk about channels and choose the most important ones. This almost certainly includes LinkedIn and Xing, as well as Instagram and Facebook, the latter especially in an international environment. By the way, the evaluation is just as important, it tends to fall behind. The relationship between measured values and corporate goals is anything but trivial.

Trade fairs, events, press conferences and meetings - these have almost completely fallen by the wayside in 2020. How important do you consider face-to-face communication to be in the long term, and which channels and measures do you recommend to your customers to compensate for these losses?
Face-to-face contact remains important! Of course, we all realised last year that not every event has to be a face-to-face event. A video conference saves time and money and, with the right discipline, can be just as effective as a face-to-face meeting. Many service cases can also be solved by video telephony, no one has to travel around. I am therefore convinced that we will not return to the meeting in person culture we had before Corona, even if this will be possible again at some point.

That's why I advise my clients to take advantage of the digital opportunities that are opening up everywhere. At the moment, everyone is still a beginner, you can only learn. Take virtual trade fairs: This is a fundamentally different approach than the classic presence fair. There is no need for a large trade fair team that is ready from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. There are no press appointments either. It is much more important to contact the visitors directly, i.e., to collect leads, to group the visitors and to stay in touch with them after the event by providing them with tailor-made content. Speaking of content: at the latest with such online events, it becomes clear how diverse content must be prepared. To pick up customers in the virtual space, you need graphics, videos, animations and much more.

Nevertheless, it will not work without direct, physical contact. I remain convinced that people buy from people. Video conferences work particularly well when the participants already know each other from real life. And the textile industry in particular thrives on haptics. I can never feel a yarn or a fabric digitally. Nor can I feel the production speed of a machine. With every revolution there is a slight breeze. You can't get that digitally.

 

The interview was conducted by Ines Chucholowius, CEO Textination GmbH

(c) PERFORMANCE DAYS functional fabric fair
29.12.2020

PERFORMANCE DAYS: Positive Feedback for Online Fair and sustain & innovate Conference

As a result of the Corona pandemic, the PERFORMANCE DAYS fair on December 9th - 10th and the accompanying sustain&innovate conference for sustainability on December 10 could only take place in digital form. Nevertheless: exhibitors, visitors and partners can look back on a successful event. The focus topic “Nothing to Waste – Closing the Loop“ relating to the issue of the textile circular economy in the course of the sustain&innovate conference also provided great discussion material while generating a positive response.

As a result of the Corona pandemic, the PERFORMANCE DAYS fair on December 9th - 10th and the accompanying sustain&innovate conference for sustainability on December 10 could only take place in digital form. Nevertheless: exhibitors, visitors and partners can look back on a successful event. The focus topic “Nothing to Waste – Closing the Loop“ relating to the issue of the textile circular economy in the course of the sustain&innovate conference also provided great discussion material while generating a positive response.

The PERFORMANCE DAYS team also expresses its satisfaction. Because despite the event being solely a digital event on the 9th and 10th of December 2020, an estimated 15,000 participants made extensive use of the comprehensive online offerings of the 191 digital exhibitors, among them drirelease/OPTIMER, Merryson, Stotz, HeiQ, Schoeller Textil, Long Advance, Dry-Tex, Utenos, Fidlock, Cifra, dekoGraphics and Jia Meir, during the week of the fair. The popular “Contact Supplier” function was supplemented with a new online tool that allows exhibitors to be contacted directly via chat, call or per video. A total of 3,250 fabric sample orders were placed with exhibitors. The variety on offer included fabric innovations for Autumn/Winter 2022/2023 within the top class PERFORMANCE FORUM and an extensive digital supporting program via live-stream with informative webinars, talks and rounds of discussions. Best of all: the resulting videos will be available on demand on the PERFORMANCE DAYS website free of charge.  
 
Finally standard: PERFORMANCE FORUM with sustainable materials
Innovative, sustainable and cutting-edge: the 240 fabrics plus accessory trends at this year’s PERFORMANCE FORUM impressed throughout with exciting environmentally conscious solutions. Natural fibers such as hemp, organic cotton, bamboo, wool or coconut shell remain in demand, while manufacturers are also increasingly refraining from the use of environmentally harmful chemicals, avoiding microplastics, advocating natural dyeing processes and either trying to return fabrics to the cycle, recycle plastic and other waste in order to produce fibres in such a way that they are biodegradable. This environmental awareness is also reflected in this year’s FOCUS TOPIC – so here the 24 best fabrics not only score in terms of sustainability, but also demonstrate that they are both functional and can be returned to the textile cycle, true to the motto “Nothing to Waste – Closing the Loop.   

In the Marketplace section, visitors have the opportunity to view more than 9,500 exhibitor products, including the fabric highlights of the individual categories of the PERFORMANCE FORUMS. In order to be able to digitally present the fabrics to visitors as realistically as possible in terms of feel, design and structure, the Forum has been equipped with innovative 3D technology, including innovative tools such as 3D images, video animations and U3M files for download.  

From fiber to fiber: successful sustain&innovate conference generates discussion  
Textile circular economy is considered part of the solution to the global waste problem, curbing the consumption of resources and reducing climate damaging greenhouse gases. But what exactly is the circular economy and how can it succeed? Most importantly, how far are fiber manufacturers in developing mono-component fabrics that can eventually be returned back into the textile cycle?    
The Focus Topic of this year’s sustainability conference, launched in cooperation with SPORTSFASHION by SAZ, offered a platform for discussion and strove to enlighten with evocative talks, discussion rounds and webinars. Christiane Dolva, Head of Sustainability at Fjällräven, got to the heart of the matter at the start of the expert talks on the second day of the fair, outlining how important emotional consistency is for the brand itself and ultimately also for the consumer – especially when it comes to textile recycling. Durability, good quality, in combination with timeless design are more important than ever today and in the future in terms of sustainable action. Added to this is the possibility of reviving products by means of a repair service. Equally exciting: the development of new technologies in terms of recycling. Erik Bang from the H&M Foundation provided a first glimpse of the new Greenmachine, which should make it possible to separate mixed fabrics such as cotton and polyester as early as 2021. Alternatively, old clothing is converted into new fibres thanks to companies such as WornAgain, Re:newcell, Spinnova or Infinited Fiber, which soon promises to be more than just a mere vision. For those who wish to gain insight into the supply chain of their purchased garment, the start-up know your stuff lets customers track the journey of the respective garment by simply scanning a QR code on the garment in a store or online.    
 
Free extensive retrospective
The next edition of PERFORMANCE DAYS is planned as a hybrid fair and will take place on May 19th and May 20th, 2021 in Munich as well as online. Until then, the PERFORMANCE DAYS platform will remain accessible, for instance with the Marketplace and further inspiring topics of (video) material stories to make online sourcing even easier. The talks from the first day of the fair and the conference will be accessible free of charge on the fair website.

The most importantt links:
Highlights of Expert Talks & Webinars
https://www.performancedays.com/digital-fair/expert-talk-webinar.html

Marketplace:
https://www.performancedays.com/marketplace.html

3D-Forum:
https://www.performancedays.com/digital-fair/forum-highlights/3d-forum.html

PERFORMANCE COLORS by Nora Kühner
https://www.performancedays.com/digital-fair/color-trends.html

More information:
Performance Days
Source:

PERFORMANCE DAYS functional fabric fair

(c) Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH
22.12.2020

Decade of Action: Texpertise Network launches further measures to implement the Sustainable Development Goals

Since 2019, the Messe Frankfurt Texpertise Network has been working with the Conscious Fashion Campaign and the United Nations Office for Partnerships to bring the Sustainable Development Goals to all 58 textile events in the network worldwide. Numerous measures have already been implemented. Others are imminent.

Shortly before the start of the COVID-19 crisis, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutérrez hailed the start of the Decade of Action. As of 2020, the international community now has just ten years to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to which the UN Member States committed themselves in the 2030 Agenda. As part of the collaboration with the Conscious Fashion Campaign and the United Nations Office for Partnerships, the Messe Frankfurt Texpertise Network will put the SDGs on the agenda of additional events in December, thus further supporting their implementation in the fashion and textile industry.

Since 2019, the Messe Frankfurt Texpertise Network has been working with the Conscious Fashion Campaign and the United Nations Office for Partnerships to bring the Sustainable Development Goals to all 58 textile events in the network worldwide. Numerous measures have already been implemented. Others are imminent.

Shortly before the start of the COVID-19 crisis, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutérrez hailed the start of the Decade of Action. As of 2020, the international community now has just ten years to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to which the UN Member States committed themselves in the 2030 Agenda. As part of the collaboration with the Conscious Fashion Campaign and the United Nations Office for Partnerships, the Messe Frankfurt Texpertise Network will put the SDGs on the agenda of additional events in December, thus further supporting their implementation in the fashion and textile industry.

Virtual event “Discover the SDGs – To Power the Decade of Action”
From 1-30 December 2020, the Texpertise Network is taking part in the virtual learning experience “Discover the SDGs”, which was initiated by the Conscious Fashion Campaign in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Partnerships. The aim of the event is to strengthen the knowledge and commitment within the fashion industry that is needed to further support the Decade of Action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals. One component of the event is a virtual and interactive exhibition on the 17 goals, as well as on-demand discussions with industry leaders, United Nations representatives and advocates of the United Nations, including Detlef Braun, Member of the Executive Board, and Thimo Schwenzfeier, Director Marketing Communications Textiles and Textile Technologies at Messe Frankfurt, as well as from Kering, Lenzing, Allbirds, Arch and Hook, Artistic Milliners, Orta, ITL, Vogue Business, CFDA, Collina Strada and the Swarovski Foundation.

“This is a critical time to accelerate partnerships to address the world's biggest challenges – from eliminating poverty, hunger and inequalities to reversing climate change and unsustainable consumption and production practices,” said Annemarie Hou, acting Executive Director of the United Nations Office for Partnerships. “The fashion industry is an important ally for the United Nations in this Decade of Action to deliver the SDGs by 2030.”

Conscious Fashion Campaign becomes a presenting partner of Frankfurt Fashion Week
Joining forces to improve the fashion industry: Frankfurt Fashion Week is positioning itself as the host of the future of fashion and actively driving forward the transformation towards a future-oriented, more sustainable fashion and textile industry. All decision-makers looking to instigate this change will be coming together in Frankfurt am Main from 5-9 July 2021. The initiators of Frankfurt Fashion Week – Messe Frankfurt and the Premium Group – have achieved a real coup: Conscious Fashion Campaign, working in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Partnerships, will be the presenting partner. Messe Frankfurt will build on its collaboration with the United Nations Office for Partnerships. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be a prerequisite for exhibitors by 2023. And the Frankfurt Fashion SDG Summit by CFC is set to become the leading international conference for sustainability in the fashion world.

Expansion of internal sustainability communication
17 goals, 58 textile events worldwide, around 600,000 visitors and 23,000 exhibitors in 2019: with its global events, the Messe Frankfurt Texpertise Network offers unique reach for supporting the SDGs, even during the corona pandemic. The participating subsidiary companies, sales partners and Messe Frankfurt partners abroad who organise the relevant events play an important role in this. To actively expand knowledge about and further commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals, the Texpertise Network is organising several online seminars, including for staff members in Argentina, Ethiopia, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Russia, South Africa and the USA and thus expanding its internal sustainability communication.

SDG actions up to now
Ever since the expanded collaboration between the Messe Frankfurt Texpertise Network, the Conscious Fashion Campaign and the United Nations Office for Partnerships was announced at the UN headquarters in New York in December 2019, the international Messe Frankfurt textile events have implemented numerous measures to support the SDGs.

At the Messe Frankfurt textile events in Germany alone, a number of things came to fruition: the most recent physical and digital editions of Heimtextil, the leading trade fair for home and contract textiles and Neonyt, global hub for fashion, sustainability and innovation, offered panel discussions, press conferences and video messages, including with the Conscious Fashion Campaign and United Nations Office for Partnerships. An SDG Lounge in the Green Village at Heimtextil and selfie walls with the SDGs inspired exhibitors, visitors and influencers alike to engage with the 17 goals and share them on their social network channels. Podcasts were produced that can still be listened to on the Neonyt and Heimtextil channels and Neonyt also hosted e.g. the influencer challenge “Let's wear the goals!”.

A great deal has also already been achieved internationally: in March 2019, Neonyt organised a showcase with selected Neonyt brands to mark the foundation of the “UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion” in Nairobi. Techtextil India launched Techtextil NEXT at its 2019 edition, India’s first hackathon for technical textiles and sustainability. Among those who attended were Shrikar Dhole, founder and CEO of the SDG Foundation and Niharika Gautam, who campaigns for the achievement of the SDGs in the fashion industry and co-leads the fashion section of the All Ladies League Delhi. The Heimtextil Russia 2020 Digital Edition was able to attract a prominent figure to give a message of greeting, namely Vladimir Kuznetsov, head of the UN Information Centre (UNIC) in Moscow. The digital edition of Texworld USA (now Texworld New York City) and Apparel Sourcing USA in summer 2020 offered a talk by the Conscious Fashion Campaign and supported the production of a podcast with Claire Kells from the UN Global Compact.

With its SDG actions to date, Messe Frankfurt Texpertise Network is estimated to have reached around 146,000 visitors, 170,000 followers on social media channels and 65,000 subscribers to newsletters about participating events at home and abroad. Added to this is also the approx. 2.5 million followers of the influencers involved in the actions.

(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.

08.12.2020

Fraunhofer FEP: Boosting Innovations for COVID-19 Diagnostic, Prevention and Surveillance

The recently launched 6.1 million Euro project INNO4COV-19, funded by the European Commission (grant agreement no. 101016203), will support the marketing of new products to combat COVID-19 over the next two years, throughout Europe. The Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP is contributing its know-how in sterilization using accelerated electrons and on near-to-eye visualization.

The €6.1 million project INNO4COV-19 is committed to supporting the commercialization of new products across Europe for combatting COVID-19 over the next two years. Looking for the fast development of products – from medical technologies to surveillance solutions - the project will boost innovation to tackle the new coronavirus, reinforcing Europe's technological leadership, and invigorating an industrial sector capable of protecting citizens' safety and well-being.

The recently launched 6.1 million Euro project INNO4COV-19, funded by the European Commission (grant agreement no. 101016203), will support the marketing of new products to combat COVID-19 over the next two years, throughout Europe. The Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP is contributing its know-how in sterilization using accelerated electrons and on near-to-eye visualization.

The €6.1 million project INNO4COV-19 is committed to supporting the commercialization of new products across Europe for combatting COVID-19 over the next two years. Looking for the fast development of products – from medical technologies to surveillance solutions - the project will boost innovation to tackle the new coronavirus, reinforcing Europe's technological leadership, and invigorating an industrial sector capable of protecting citizens' safety and well-being.

Officially starting on October 1, the virtual kick-off took place on October 6 – 7, counting with the support of two European Commission officers.

The 11-partner consortium led by INL – International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory, is looking for efficient and fast solutions that can help in the fight against COVID-19 jointly with the other actively involved industrial and RTO partners.

The mission of INNO4COV-19 is to create a “lab-to-fab” platform and a collaboration resource where companies and reference laboratories will find the tools for developing and implementing innovative technologies – from idea assessment to market exploitation. This work will be carried out as part the European Union Coronavirus initiative and in strong collaboration with all the funded projects where to accelerate the time to market for any promising product.

INNO4COV-19 is set to assist up to 30 test cases and applications from several areas spanning from Medical technologies, Environmental Surveillance systems, Sensors, Protection of Healthcare workers and Artificial Intelligence and Data mining. To achieve this, INNO4COV-19 is awarding half of the budget to support 30 enterprises selected through a set number of open calls during the first year of the project.

The first call will be launched in November 2020 across several platforms. Awardees will receive up to €100,000 each and benefit from the INNO4COV-19 consortium's technical, regulatory, and business expertise.

Roll-to-Roll Equipment and Electron Beam Technology for Large Area Sterilization of textile materials
During pandemic events like COVID-19, MERS, SARS or Ebola a substantial shortage of sterile materials for medical uses was observed due to peak demands. Fraunhofer FEP will contribute their roll-to-roll equipment and electron beam technology for the purpose of large area sterilization of textile materials to the INNO4COV-19 project.

Usually the textile material is produced in non-sterile conditions and therefore must be sterilized before being delivered to the consumers (e. g. hospitals); Sterilization at product level (sterilizing the final manufactured masks) is limited in throughput, due to a high number of individual small pieces, that must be sterilized.

Project manager Dr. Steffen Günther of Fraunhofer FEP explains the role and aims of the institute in more detail: “INNO4COV-19 will establish and verify a process chain for high throughput (4500 m²/h) electron beam sterilization of fabric material in roll-form in a single TRL 7 pilot machine to allow efficient manufacturing of sterile face masks and other fabric based sterile products without the need to sterilize the final product.”

OLED Microdisplays for Detecting Infected People
Another topic of Fraunhofer FEP within INNO4COV-19 deals with the earliest possible detection of infected people. A widely used strategy to early identify individuals with disease symptoms is body temperature screening using thermal cameras.

One possibility to allow continuous body temperature monitoring, is the integration of a thermal camera into a smart wearable device. Therefore, Fraunhofer FEP is using their OLED microdisplay technology. This allows small (< 3 × 2 cm²), ultrathin (< 5 mm including control circuitry) and ultra-low power (< 5 mW) devices to show visual information. In combination with an infrared sensor a thermal imager will be realized to both measure body temperature and directly displays the result via near-to-eye visualization. The system can be embedded within smart glasses, hats, caps or personal face shields.

About INNO4COV-19 project:
Website: www.inno4cov19.eu
Please contact: info@inno4cov19.eu

 

Source:

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP

17.11.2020

KfW: EUR 20 million for textile workers affected by the Corona pandemic

  • Rapid assistance to more than 200 000 people affected

Many hundreds of thousands of textile workers in Bangladesh are at risk of sliding into poverty as a result of the outbreak of the Corona pandemic. According to EU estimates, about half of the four to five million workers in the sector have either been laid off or made redundant since spring 2020 – in some cases without social security to back them up. To mitigate the dramatic economic consequences, the EU is now redirecting its existing sector budget support to Bangladesh. From now on, around EUR 90 million is to be channelled into a new government programme to finance wage substitution benefits for workers made redundant in the textile sector - including the leather and shoe industries – or at least to provide a short-term interim solution for workers who have been dismissed. German Financial Cooperation (FC) is now increasing these EU funds by EUR 20 million.

  • Rapid assistance to more than 200 000 people affected

Many hundreds of thousands of textile workers in Bangladesh are at risk of sliding into poverty as a result of the outbreak of the Corona pandemic. According to EU estimates, about half of the four to five million workers in the sector have either been laid off or made redundant since spring 2020 – in some cases without social security to back them up. To mitigate the dramatic economic consequences, the EU is now redirecting its existing sector budget support to Bangladesh. From now on, around EUR 90 million is to be channelled into a new government programme to finance wage substitution benefits for workers made redundant in the textile sector - including the leather and shoe industries – or at least to provide a short-term interim solution for workers who have been dismissed. German Financial Cooperation (FC) is now increasing these EU funds by EUR 20 million.

"The textile sector," says KfW office manager Anirban Kundu, "is the backbone of the economy in Bangladesh. The export share of the textile industry alone accounts for 86% of the economy, and the total trade volume is around USD 40 billion. If it is doing badly, the whole country is doing badly."

The corona pandemic is therefore causing enormous disturbances in the sector. Many orders were cancelled and goods already produced were often not taken. "Even though the situation has eased somewhat in the meantime," Kundu continues, "things remain critical - not least because of increased price pressure or because orders have not reached the previous level." As a result, the people affected find themselves in an emergency situation that threatens their very existence. Some employees on leave of absence only receive wage substitution benefits for the first 45 days. Dismissed employees who were not previously employed for a certain minimum period of time do not receive any support at all.

Still many workers on leave even though production resumes
In April 2020, the Bangladeshi government launched four economic support packages totalling around EUR 7.3 billion to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the economy. With the emergency aid now launched at short notice, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) is topping up the existing EU sector budget support of EUR 93 million by up to EUR 20 million. This grant to the national budget for 2020 not only makes it possible to re-finance wage substitution payments for released textile workers, but also provides support, at least in the short term, to those who are particularly hard hit by a dismissal: for example mothers who do not receive benefits after the birth of a child, or those women and men who have been employed by a company for less than a year.

From November onwards, they are to receive the equivalent of around EUR 30 per month, initially for a maximum of three months, and possibly more. To ensure that this money reaches its destination, it will be transferred electronically to the bank accounts of those concerned via appropriate government platforms. The relevant export associations in the textile sector provide monthly updated figures on the number of workers released or dismissed.

"Subsidy does not release employers from their obligations"
Some 215,000 workers benefit directly from the payments through the German contribution alone, but indirectly almost four times as many benefit from them: Not only the family members, but also the communities where the textile workers live, as well as transport companies, street traders and other local service providers. Without this rapid support and the resumption of production, lasting economic damage to Bangladesh's already small and fragile economy can be expected. But Anirban Kundu also makes it clear: "It is by no means the intention to release employers from their legal obligations to continue to pay wages. Rather, the aim is to ensure that the emergency aid reaches workers who are no longer entitled to statutory continued payment of wages, so that they can at least make up for some of their misery."