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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) 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) 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

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

Photo: Jakob Jost GmbH
25.08.2020

Steffen Jost: “We have to become faster, better in our Product Ranges and adopt a more strategic Approach.”

Interview with Steffen Jost, President of BTE e.V. and General Manager, Jakob Jost GmbH
 
On July 31 2020, the German Retail Association - HDE e.V. reported in addition to the current sales figures published by the Federal Statistical Office: “Many clothing retailers are still in danger of existence.” An HDE survey of 500 retailers showed that around two thirds of the non-grocers achieved at least 75 percent of sales in comparison to the same week last year. The main reason for this is the slowly increasing number of customers.

Interview with Steffen Jost, President of BTE e.V. and General Manager, Jakob Jost GmbH
 
On July 31 2020, the German Retail Association - HDE e.V. reported in addition to the current sales figures published by the Federal Statistical Office: “Many clothing retailers are still in danger of existence.” An HDE survey of 500 retailers showed that around two thirds of the non-grocers achieved at least 75 percent of sales in comparison to the same week last year. The main reason for this is the slowly increasing number of customers.

For 27 percent of retailers, however, the situation is still very serious: They realize their entrepreneurial existence threatened due to the corona crisis. Most retail companies will not be able to make up for lost sales that have occurred in recent months. Accordingly, two-thirds of non-grocery retailers calculated that sales would also decline in the second half of the year. Many clothing retailers continue to face difficult times.

Textination spoke about the situation with Steffen Jost, long-time president of the BTE Federal Association of German Textile Retailers, owner and managing director of Jakob Jost GmbH. The family company, founded in 1892, operates five clothing stores in Rhineland-Palatinate and Baden-Württemberg in the medium to upper price segment with more than 300 employees and a sales area of around 20,900 square meters.

How have you felt about the corona era to date - as a company and personally? What would you on no account want to go through again and what might you even consider maintaining on a daily basis?
The corona era was a challenging time for the company and its employees. You realize very clearly which employees are loyal and committed to the challenges and which are not. It is frightening to experience the appearance of mask refusers among the customers, who claim to go shopping without a mask and demand freedom for themselves and at the same time presuppose the employees' willingness to make sacrifices. The tone, the impertinences as well as the aggressiveness are alarming, it is often pure egoism. And in this context the meaning of freedom is limited to their own freedom.    

What does the pandemic mean economically for your own company so far, how do you estimate the consequences for the entire sector?
The economic impact, especially in terms of profitability, is immense. Since it affects the entire sector and thus also many companies that entered the crisis without a solid equity base, a major shakeout is to be feared. Especially because it is also not yet possible to predict how long the crisis will last.
 
What adjustments or innovations have you considered necessary for your product range?
As a result of the crisis, occasion related and elegant clothing is tending to decline, while sporty clothing is on average a bit more successful, so that more we emphasis on these aspects. The stationary trade as well as the industry have big problems, nevertheless there are acceptable solutions with many suppliers after intensive exchanges. A few suppliers try to enforce their own interests exclusively. Of course, this will result in corresponding consequences for the cooperation.

How do you consider suppliers in the future, what experiences have you made and will you draw consequences for your procurement policy?
A good cooperation between retail and industry is essential for economic success. If this basis does not exist (it has suffered considerably as a result of corona), it is also assumed that future economic success will be worse. A profit-oriented corporate management must take this into account in its procurement policy.
          
Which initiatives or instruments at politico-economic level did you welcome for the sector, of which have you been critical?
For many companies, including ours, both - the short-time working allowance and the KfW loans are essential components to secure the company's long-term future. For the first time the retail sector is applying for short-time work. We are critical of the lack of willingness on the political level to enforce the mask obligation and to punish violations of it accordingly. This has been passed on to the retailers and other sectors of the economy with corresponding problems in customer relations.
The interim aid was a great help for many small companies, but unfortunately medium-sized companies were not able to benefit from that. Corona has certainly massively accelerated the structural processes and developments in the retail sector, whereby the one-sided consideration of online sales, as currently can be seen, certainly falls short. It is also a question of the ability to generate profitable sales in normal times in order to build up business substance and also to finance necessary investments.

Did the corona era also have a positive effect, while the sector has brought forward innovations that would have been necessary anyway?
This might have happened in some cases. Especially companies that were not yet sufficiently digitally positioned may have taken action here very fast. In width, however, times of crisis seldom mean large investment periods.

What needs the stationary retail trade has to meet in future, what services must be offered in order to get a stable future?
The retail trade must be more than a place where goods are stocked in large quantities. The internet can do this on a much larger scale. Real customer service will play an increasingly important role, as will the length of stay and the design quality of the retail space. At the same time, it is important to make an optimum use of the digital possibilities. In addition, it is important to curate the product ranges in such a way, that the customers’ respective requirements are matched by an assortment that meets their expectations. Basically, this has been the original task of purchasing for decades. It is frightening to experience the appearance of mask refusers among the customers.
          
Which initiatives or approaches by or for your sector would you appreciate as support for such a future?
The cooperation between industry and multi-label retailers must definitely become more intensively and, above all, faster. Up to now, the possibilities of electronic data processing in a mutual flow of information, have been used by far too little and the corresponding consequences have not been drawn. In addition, the procurement times need to be reduced significantly.  The order and delivery dates must be set much later, and the possibility of using the digital world for ordering must also be implemented, in order to compensate at least the great systemic advantages of the vertical trade and thus also to reduce significantly the rates of write-offs and returns.

Until now the big issues have been globalisation, sustainability / climate change / environmental protection, digitisation, the labour market situation and so on. How must we rate them against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic?
Covid 19 will not change the big issues seriously, they will remain with us. Possibly the negative labor market situation, which is to be feared, can push them into the background, because if existential needs have to be solved, experience shows, that there is much less attention for the other problems.
 
What are the lessons for the textile retail trade with regard to these goals for the post-corona era?
The long lead times between ordering and delivery must finally be shortened. We have to become faster, better in our product ranges and adopt a more strategic approach. We may not lose sight of our own interests and the overall strategy of a company through the specifications of individual suppliers.
The strategic goal can only be to strive for permanently profitable sales and to implement all necessary measures consistently.

The interview was conducted by Ines Chucholowius,
CEO Textination GmbH

Textildruckerei Heinrich Mayer GmbH, Michael Steidle (c) Textildruckerei Heinrich Mayer GmbH
21.07.2020

„COVID-19 - We could and should have appeared better as noble knights" Michael Steidle, Textildruckerei Heinrich Mayer GmbH

  • Interview with Michael Steidle, Managing Director Textildruckerei Heinrich Mayer GmbH

At least Europe seems to be able to breathe a sigh of relief after weeks of lockdown during the corona pandemic. The textile industry, an industry that has lived globalisation for so many years, is facing the challenge of maintaining its place in the new normal and building on its previous performance as quickly as possible.
Textination talked to three company representatives along the textile chain about personal and operational experiences.

  • Interview with Michael Steidle, Managing Director Textildruckerei Heinrich Mayer GmbH

At least Europe seems to be able to breathe a sigh of relief after weeks of lockdown during the corona pandemic. The textile industry, an industry that has lived globalisation for so many years, is facing the challenge of maintaining its place in the new normal and building on its previous performance as quickly as possible.
Textination talked to three company representatives along the textile chain about personal and operational experiences.

The Interview with Michael Steidle, managing director at the textile printing company Heinrich Mayer GmbH, marks the provisional end of our series that started with Wolfgang Müller, Head of Sales & Services at Mayer & Cie. GmbH & Co. KG and was continued by Andreas Merkel, managing director of Gebr. Otto Baumwollfeinzwirnerei GmbH & Co. KG. The textile printing company Mayer, a family business on the Swabian Alb, is a leader in textile printing, in screen, rouleaux, rotary, sublimation and flock printing and as well as in 3D coating. They are increasingly using these skills in the area of technical textiles.

How have you felt about the corona era to date - as a company and personally?
What would you on no account want to go through again and what might you even consider maintaining on a daily basis?

 The corona time hit us hard. At the beginning of April, sometimes it felt like the lights would go out within the next 24 hours. In numbers there is a drop in sales of 30 percent.
And that's not just the way we are, this crisis has incredibly broader implications. Involved in the word of the Chamber of Commerce I am concerned with many companies in the region. Sectors that would not come to mind spontaneously also feel the effects. This also includes recycling companies. After all, there is also less commercial waste when companies are on short-time work.
At a personal level you can deal with the crisis, hand hygiene, sneeze etiquette, you can learn all of this. But we miss people-to-people contacts. We have a teenage daughter; young people in particular lack the ability to be out and about with their peers.

 
What has the pandemic meant for your company so far?
As I said, the Corona period brought us a significant drop in sales. That means we think twice before spending money. At the beginning of the year we moved to our new, spacious company building. There are still a few small investments to be made. So far, we have put it off until the situation has calmed down again. And so do many. The economic network extremely got out of hand due to the lockdown.
We applied for short-time work, which has been running for three months now. However, you have to see how long that makes sense. Our customers also had a drop in sales, which they first of all have to recover.

 
What adjustments or innovations to your product portfolio have you felt obliged by the pandemic to undertake?
The mask production was a very strong topic in April and May, the phone almost rang continuously. This enabled us to compensate for many orders that were lost otherwise.
We reacted quickly, not only printing masks classically, but also developing coatings for medical face masks and protective clothing. The coatings that we offer are antibacterial and have the lotus effect. This results in the formation of droplets in the aerosols. We have had checked and certified these innovations in an urgent procedure.
We converted our machines ad hoc so that we could apply innovative coatings instead of paint. This was even possible for ready-made masks.
In general, I rate this ability to react quickly as one of our great strengths. We are a small company, so the path from idea to implementation is rather short. If we recognize a trend, an opportunity in our industry, we examine ourselves: Do we have resources that could be used or adapted to offer a solid, marketable solution in a very short time? This refers to know-how, ideas, machines and, for larger projects, also partners. Experience has shown that on the one hand we have the necessary imagination, but on the other hand we also have a fairly realistic view of ourselves. If we can answer the question with “yes”, then we get started without delay. We can evaluate a trial in the evening and continue working on it the next day. There is no need for a meeting with five persons beforehand.
 

What are your views on global supply chains in the future, and will you be drawing consequences for your procurement policy?
We cannot avoid global supply chains; and it will remain this way. In the short term, you may reflect on regional procurement, as far as that is still possible. Many things are simply no longer available and the development over the past 30 years cannot be turned back. Let's take pigment paint: it comes from India and China, otherwise it doesn't exist anymore. Nobody in Europe can keep the prices. And yes, that also means that the production of systemically relevant products can no longer be guaranteed.

          
How do you rate the importance of partnerships within the industry in the future? Does Covid-19 have the potential to promote the creation of new cooperation arrangements in the industry? Or have they already taken shape?
Existing partnerships are important. We must keep the ball rolling: Interrupted projects have to be continued with existing partners.
I think it is important to maintain partnerships at eye level. Sure, now everyone has to see how they can make ends meet. It will be shown, however, who works loyally in the long term and with respect to the business.
Personally, it is important for me to be true to my word. Only a few days ago I spoke to a student, whom we promised her internship and a corresponding payment in February. This young woman can start her internship with us; what paying is concerned, I had to tell her honestly that we have to talk about it again. Fortunately, that was not a problem. It is important to the student that she can complete the required internship at all. This is not so easy since most companies do not accept anyone right now. That is understandable too, but we will need the well-trained people again soon, that’s for sure!

 
What initiatives or approaches for your industry would you welcome for the near future?
I would be very interested in a positive and comprehensive description of what value added is still available in Germany. An initiative that illustrates that the textile industry is an important industry, with many companies that have been family-owned for generations, often with a young, dynamic management and high-quality products. Really nobody has that on his radar. Just today, two designers from a company nearby visited us. They were surprised which services we offer in the field of technical textiles - they were not even aware of it.
The textile industry has played itself down for a long time, that has to stop. Of course, we no longer have added value like the machine building industry. But now, in the corona crisis, it would have been the right time to take advantage of the situation and to initiate much-needed lobbying..


What would you like to see as part of the German textile industry? Do you feel that the status of the German textile industry has changed as a result of the pandemic, especially in respect of public procurement?
No, only at very short notice. Everything was taken during the crisis, the main thing was that the requested product, i.e. masks and protective clothing, was even available. Now the old cycle is back: I have a certain budget, where can I get the most for it? This is frustrating because the willingness to face this challenge was high on the part of the companies.
We also have driven the development and had our coatings for masks certified in an urgent process. Others have switched their entire production at a significant cost to meet demand. Nobody became a millionaire this way.
I think the textile industry could have sold better here. We could and should have appeared better as noble knights. Unfortunately, this was lost in the heat of the battle.

Until now the big issues have been globalisation, sustainability / climate change / environmental protection, digitisation, the labour market situation and so on. Where do they stand now and how must we rate them against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic?
We take sustainability into account with our certifications, with GOTS and ISO 9001. Digitisation does not work quickly for us; it will take years before we can digitise processes. Sure, in administration we are now increasingly working with web meetings and video conferences, but personal contact is important to me. I regularly give lectures; my next one will be at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences and I very much hope that it can take place. I am just a guy for direct contact.
The labour market situation depends on the pandemic and how it develops. In any case, it remains difficult to get young people excited about textile professions. When I open a mobile phone store, I don't need a day to have my employees together. When we present ourselves at a training fair, we are happy to have a handful of good conversations.
Training is so valuable. Someone who has one will always have a different status than an unskilled person, even if - at some point - he works in a completely different branch. The dual training system is absolutely untouchable for me, because we live from this economic performance. We have nothing else but our knowledge. And we have to keep developing because only the high level gives the necessary output.
 

What lessons are to be learnt in respect of these targets for the post-corona era?
Innovation, innovation, innovation. You must not stand still. Nobody knows what to do next. But in three years from now I have to live from what I am developing today, just like I live from what I developed three years ago. Now, in times of Corona, it is much harder to remember, but it does not help: I can’t stand still, waiting for what is happening next, being like a deer caught in the headlights.

This interview was conducted by Ines Chucholowius, CEO Textination GmbH

Gebr. Otto Baumwollfeinzwirnerei GmbH & Co. KG (c) Gebr. Otto Baumwollfeinzwirnerei GmbH & Co. KG
14.07.2020

Interview with Andreas Merkel, Managing Director Gebr. Otto GmbH & Co. KG

"OTTO has already survived two world wars and a pandemic in 1918, we will survive this one as well"

At least Europe seems to be able to breathe a sigh of relief after weeks of lockdown during the corona pandemic. The textile industry, an industry that has lived globalisation for so many years, is facing the challenge of maintaining its place in the new normal and building on its previous performance as quickly as possible.

Textination talked to three company representatives along the textile chain about personal and operational experiences.

"OTTO has already survived two world wars and a pandemic in 1918, we will survive this one as well"

At least Europe seems to be able to breathe a sigh of relief after weeks of lockdown during the corona pandemic. The textile industry, an industry that has lived globalisation for so many years, is facing the challenge of maintaining its place in the new normal and building on its previous performance as quickly as possible.

Textination talked to three company representatives along the textile chain about personal and operational experiences.

Andreas Merkel, Managing Director of Gebr. Otto Baumwollfeinzwirnerei GmbH & Co. KG, takes over the second part of our series of interviews and succeeds Wolfgang Müller, Head of Sales & Service at the textile machinery company Mayer & Cie. GmbH & Co. KG. The spinning mill, which was founded in Dietenheim in 1901, is now considered as one of the most modern ones in Europe. The management decided against relocating production abroad and relies on premium yarns made from natural fibers as well as tailor-made customer solutions.

How have you felt about the corona era to date - as a company and personally?
What would you on no account want to go through again and what might you even consider maintaining on a daily basis?

The lockdown period was something surreal to me. It was difficult to understand what was real and what was virtual. I found it positive that the crisis brought people closer together and that they gave more appreciation to things people had taken for granted, such as their own workplace.
Overall, I have remembered the past few months as not being such a negative time. Of course, this is also because we as a company have got off lightly so far. We have no external obligations such as rents, leasing contracts and so on to serve. We also see a clear upward trend again.    
          
What has the pandemic meant for your company so far?
The enterprise Gebrüder Otto has existed since 1901, we have already weathered a pandemic - the Spanish flu in 1918 - and we will survive this too. Of course, many orders suddenly broke off, and we had to cope with parts of the company in short-time work. Incidentally, an extremely sensible government offer that helped us to react quickly.
But I have the impression that the crisis is going to get off to a good start and I don't think we will stay at the current low level for a long time. As it looks now, we no longer need to take advantage of the short-time work in the spinning mill we had requested for July.
I am worried about the companies that will be hit hard by this crisis, especially in our industry, of course. We are already noticing insolvencies of long-established companies. The textile value chain in Germany is already very limited; let’s hope that this pandemic doesn’t shrink it any further.
 
What adjustments or innovations to your product portfolio have you felt obliged by the pandemic to undertake?
We saw a positive development even before the pandemic: More and more customers are asking about sustainable products, which we offer in a wide range.
Last year we started building up the brand "Cotton since 1901 - made in Germany" and launched it in April this year. We want to make the fact even clearer that we offer a regional, transparent and sustainable product with our cotton yarns made in Dietenheim. We have been based in Germany for almost 120 years and are part of our cityscape and local life. We - and our product - stand for consistency, responsibility and the highest quality standards.
Our yarns are the DNA of a high quality garment. Products that are made from "Cotton since 1901" are provided with a corresponding hang tag in the shops.
We are happy that we were able to launch this brand despite the difficulties that the corona measures implicated. Because now the topic is more important than ever. I recently had a conversation with a customer: Nothing works except in the sustainable segment. In short: high-quality products remain in demand, while it is becoming more and more difficult on the average market.

What are your views on global supply chains in the future, and will you be drawing consequences for your procurement policy?
In Germany, we have a high degree of company-internal value-add, we spin, twist and dye. Our cotton is extra-long-staple and we source it from Spain and Israel, from long-term suppliers. Because of Corona, there was no reason for our procurement to take consequences.
However, the crisis will have made it clear to many people that mass products used in daily life are no longer so easy to manufacture on their doorstep. But we need a reliable and high availability in Germany. That is why we should strengthen regional production, also in the long term. Sure, this is only possible in cooperation with customers and partners who appreciate these values. That doesn't work if everyone just looks at the price. Pricing is not everything. From this perspective, the pandemic was certainly an important catalyst.
 
How do you rate the importance of partnerships within the industry in the future?
Does Covid-19 have the potential to promote the creation of new cooperation arrangements in the industry? Or have they already taken shape?

Vertical partnerships are becoming increasingly important. Well, the shrinkage of the industry implicates this anyway. But we have to work together even more and the quality of the partnerships needs to become closer.
If one of the remaining specialists fails - let's assume that the companies that are now going bankrupt would have to close completely - then everyone else will be affected. There are no such specialists ten a penny, if they fall away, then some products cannot be manufactured locally anymore. You can build a fantastic car, no matter how good, if you don't have someone who can provide you with the steering wheel, you don't have a finished car.

What initiatives or approaches for your industry would you welcome for the near future?
Regional products should be given a parent brand so that consumers can recognize a regionally manufactured product as such. There was something like this in Switzerland with Swisscotton. I have suggested this several times in the association of the textile industry. It would be best for the industry if all manufacturers jointly build up such a regional label. After all, consumers are ready to spend money if they know where a product comes from and that it was manufactured fairly and sustainably. Everyone would benefit from such transparent added value. And digitization offers the ideal platform for this.

What would you like to see as part of the German textile industry?
Do you feel that the status of the German textile industry has changed as a result of the pandemic, especially in respect of public procurement?

As far as public procurement is concerned, I cannot answer this question because it does not really affect us.
But of course the pandemic has shown how fatal it can be if products are no longer manufactured in Germany, for example if antibiotics are market under the name of German companies but are actually manufactured on the other side of the world.
At the end of the day, the question arises: being a part of the textile industry – are we systemically relevant? Partly yes, I think, because if tomorrow
nobody produces yarns in Germany or Europe anymore, this will have consequences for systemically relevant products. And, as you know, you only realise that things can get tight when there is a bang. That is why I think that in a country like Germany there must be a basic supply of products and technology. After all, it's also about further development, about innovations. If I want to make a virus-free mask, I need local partners.

Until now the big issues have been globalisation, sustainability / climate change / environmental protection, digitisation, the labour market situation and so on.
Where do they stand now and how must we rate them against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic?

For us at Otto, sustainability and environmental protection have been a long-standing central corporate value. We produce our electricity partly independently, from hydropower. Our products and processes have been certified according to the highest standards. In my lectures, I often show how much water is needed to produce cotton, and how precious this raw material is in itself.
Together with the valuable regional added value, this gave rise to our new brand "Cotton since 1901". There will be a QR code on the hang tags on the finished garments, so that the buyer can check what is inside the product.
Such approaches, which are sustainable and regional, are a mega opportunity that we have to use. The corona crisis had demonstrated this very clearly.
 
What lessons are to be learnt in respect of these targets for the post-corona era?
I'm afraid things will go on as before in many areas. But still: We looked at the medical manufacturers who suddenly could no longer deliver everyday medicines. And we have seen the conditions under which meat products are produced.
Do we want that? No. In the end, consumers value flawless products - and we should deliver them.

This interview was conducted by Ines Chucholowius, CEO Textination GmbH

07.07.2020

Mayer & Cie.: “COVID-19 - A Challenge without a Blueprint”

Interview with Wolfgang Müller, Head of Sales & Service at Mayer & Cie. GmbH & Co. KG

At least Europe seems to be able to breathe a sigh of relief after weeks of lockdown during the corona pandemic. The textile industry, an industry that has lived globalisation for so many years, is facing the challenge of maintaining its place in the new normal and building on its previous performance as quickly as possible.

Textination talked to three company representatives along the textile chain about personal and operational experiences.

Wolfgang Müller, Head of Sales & Service at Mayer & Cie. GmbH & Co. KG will start the three-part series. The world market leader for circular knitting machines, founded in 1905 in Albstadt / Baden-Württemberg, employs around 400 people worldwide and today offers an international network of more than 80 sales and service representatives.

Interview with Wolfgang Müller, Head of Sales & Service at Mayer & Cie. GmbH & Co. KG

At least Europe seems to be able to breathe a sigh of relief after weeks of lockdown during the corona pandemic. The textile industry, an industry that has lived globalisation for so many years, is facing the challenge of maintaining its place in the new normal and building on its previous performance as quickly as possible.

Textination talked to three company representatives along the textile chain about personal and operational experiences.

Wolfgang Müller, Head of Sales & Service at Mayer & Cie. GmbH & Co. KG will start the three-part series. The world market leader for circular knitting machines, founded in 1905 in Albstadt / Baden-Württemberg, employs around 400 people worldwide and today offers an international network of more than 80 sales and service representatives.

How have you felt about the corona era to date - as a company and personally?
What would you on no account want to go through again and what might you even consider maintaining on a daily basis?

The corona era is a challenge without a blueprint. Because it is not an economic crisis as previously understood we have no tried and tested solutions with which to react to the situation. Nevertheless, and this is my personal opinion, there is never only a downside even though the pandemic situation has, of course, had the worst conceivable effect on our order intake.
A positive aspect is that we are forced to deal with issues we would otherwise have put off until the future. Web meetings and virtual trade fairs instead of travelling half way round the world. We can use the time gained to optimise our processes.
When the lockdown began I personally had more time for myself and a few hours more sleep than otherwise. But that positive side effect is already history.    
          
What has the pandemic meant for your company so far?
Let me go back a little further. The trade dispute between the United States and China and many other, smaller local conflicts led to the textile machinery market having faced an understandably most reluctant client base since 2018. After this rather lengthy lean period we noted from the beginning of 2020 a growing inclination to invest once more. Of course, corona abruptly interrupted that trend. So the pandemic hit us at a time when the industry was recovering. We now have a steady order intake once more, but at a lower level than we need if we are to fully utilise our production capacity. So after the summer holidays we will switch to short-time working until the situation is back to normal.
 
What adjustments or innovations to your product portfolio have you felt obliged by the pandemic to undertake?
Contact and travel bans have not only shown us how useful video conferences are; they have also demonstrated most vividly how important digital solutions are – and that we need to work on them intensively. Prior to the corona outbreak, we invested a great deal of time and knowledge in this area so that we were able to unveil knitlink at the 2019 ITMA 2019.
A Web shop for spare parts and our new service approach are both based on knitlink. Using a ticket system that we are developing from our CRM system along with digital measures in service support we can assist our customers faster and at less expense than previously. In addition, our customers will in future be able to record and analyse the production data of their Mayer circular knitting machines.

What are your views on global supply chains in the future, and will you be drawing consequences for your procurement policy?
We as suppliers noticed at the outset of the corona crisis in March that the desire for short supply chains on the part of clothing manufacturers was leading to more orders from countries closer to Europe. Now that the situation is hopefully starting to ease off, this trend is still apparent.
As for our own supply chain, throughout the entire lockdown phase we have had gratifyingly few problems and no downtimes whatever.
 
How do you rate the importance of partnerships within the industry in the future?
Does Covid-19 have the potential to promote the creation of new cooperation arrangements in the industry? Or have they already taken shape?

Cooperation arrangements can be a great enrichment. For over a year and a half we have been collaborating with a design studio in Amsterdam. Our partner Byborre not only develops designs of its own; it also supports sportswear and clothing manufacturers step by step in developing their textiles.
The customer uses his own partners and suppliers while Byborre supplies the machinery and parameters needed to manufacture the desired fabrics.
Byborre could be described as a kind of “translator,” interpreting between us, the machine manufacturers, and those who use the fabrics that are made on our machines.
We as engineers know of course what our machines are capable of accomplishing. Jointly with Byborre we coax new designs and uses out of these capabilities.
Apart from that we cooperate in various bodies such as the VDMA’s Marketing and Trade Fair Committee.
These, however, are not cooperation arrangements arising from or as a consequence of Covid-19. We have no such cooperation to report.

What initiatives or approaches for your industry would you welcome for the near future?
A positive mention must be made of offers by the state government to assist with digitisation projects that we must all take forward.
A strengthening of regional production would also be desirable. That said, even I cannot imagine how that could be achieved other than for high-quality or niche products.

What would you like to see as part of the German textile industry?
Do you feel that the status of the German textile industry has changed as a result of the pandemic, especially in respect of public procurement?

Although “textile” is part of our description as textile machinery manufacturers, our actual home is in the second part of the name – in mechanical engineering. Its status in Germany is, as is known, very high.
That of the textile industry is, from my external vantage point, unchanged. At the beginning of April, when face masks were desperately sought, there were many good intentions, but German firms that offered to manufacture them were refused long-term assurances by the government.
So naturally nobody invested in the idea and everything will probably remain as it is, with the price reigning supreme and competition continuing unabated.

Until now the big issues have been globalisation, sustainability / climate change / environmental protection, digitisation, the labour market situation and so on.
Where do they stand now and how must we rate them against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic?

The overriding issue right now is Covid-19, and everything else is subordinated to it. At the same time it functions like a magnifying glass. Take precarious jobs, for example. The high rates of infection in abattoirs have meant that they can no longer be ignored. Covid-19 has also created facts in respect of environmental protection. Next to nobody is flying, people are working from home and doing less shopping. That leads to lower emissions. The ailing global economy is a blessing for the planet. Germany too is likely to be on climate target for 2020; without corona we would have failed to do so. As for globalisation, it is at least marking time as regional production fills part of the bill.
How long that will continue to be the case remains to be seen, of course, but it is clear that we can be extremely flexible if we need to be.
 
What lessons are to be learnt in respect of these targets for the post-corona era?
There is unlikely to be a “post-corona era” inasmuch as we will no longer get rid of the virus. We must learn to cope with it.
The virus or rather the restrictions it has imposed on us have forced us to be creative. We must deal with existing processes differently – both in private life and professionally. By that I mean such everyday activities as shopping as well as Web meetings and working at home, which was not previously a widespread option at our company. They have certainly made us more efficient.
Another realisation applies to us as an SME just as it does to politics. We have an opportunity to master the crisis and maybe even gain in strength and size from it. But only because we have invested sensibly when times were good and above all managed our business soundly and solidly.

This interview was conducted by Ines Chucholowius, CEO Textination GmbH

Source:

Textination GmbH

Used textiles Photo: bvse textile recycling association
20.05.2020

Corona-virus pushes Used Textiles Industry into Struggle for Survival

The measures to reduce the propagation speed of the COVID-19 epidemic require hourly new and flexible adjustments to system processes and business agreements. In these difficult times, the waste textile companies rely on a close solution-oriented dialogue with their contract partners.

The initiatives presented a common vision for social protection and responsible entrepreneurship in this crisis at the end of April.
 
The members of the board of directors at bvse textile recycling raise the alarm because the economic starting point for companies in the sector pf used textile is getting worse every day.
 
"An increasing number of sorting systems are applying for short-time work due to the corona crisis or are closing the factories completely due to quarantine measures," Martin Wittmann, the bvse vice president and chairman of the bvse textile recycling association, describes the current situation.

The measures to reduce the propagation speed of the COVID-19 epidemic require hourly new and flexible adjustments to system processes and business agreements. In these difficult times, the waste textile companies rely on a close solution-oriented dialogue with their contract partners.

The initiatives presented a common vision for social protection and responsible entrepreneurship in this crisis at the end of April.
 
The members of the board of directors at bvse textile recycling raise the alarm because the economic starting point for companies in the sector pf used textile is getting worse every day.
 
"An increasing number of sorting systems are applying for short-time work due to the corona crisis or are closing the factories completely due to quarantine measures," Martin Wittmann, the bvse vice president and chairman of the bvse textile recycling association, describes the current situation.

The amount of used clothing collected in Germany is declining sharply in many regions along with increasing social distancing, existing or expected curfew and associated closings of collection points and civic amenity sites.

"It looks even bleaker on the sales side. In the meantime, measures ordered worldwide, such as curfews and ban on meetings, prevent the opportunities to even generate any revenue. Due to official orders, second-hand shops have to close everywhere, including in Eastern Europe. This means that the demand for used clothing dries up almost completely.
The African markets are also suffering from the corresponding lack of demand, due to the lack of funds available from local consumers.

The markets necessary for the sale of sorted goods have collapsed globally since mid-March 2020. It is currently not possible to market wearable second-hand clothing, but also products in the recycling and cleaning rag segment. Thus, there are currently no prospects for generating revenue in the end customer area.
Since the transit time of a piece of used textile from the collection to the sorting to the final marketing in one of the global markets can take up to four months, this situation will certainly take just as long because a positive change in the current overall pandemic situation cannot be assumed.

The waste disposal companies active in Germany in the field of used textiles are therefore currently concerned only with maintaining the operational structures in order to find ways at a later time to be able to fulfill the previous agreements.

"What we urgently need now are common, fair and economically sound solutions with all of our contractual partners so that both sides can survive this crisis. The situation in many municipal, charitable and private places currently looks like that we maintain the services of waste collection and recycling at high costs, but currently do not know whether we will be compensated for this due to force majeure,” stated Wittmann.   

As a start, some companies in the industry have therefore already concluded agreements with municipalities. In return for a provisional suspension of payment obligations for the rental of container spaces or collected goods, the private companies want to do everything possible to ensure that the recycling of used clothes and cleaning of the collection points in the interest of the com-mon good, despite their own staff shortages and difficult conditions remains guaranteed.

“At the same time, we would like to appeal to everyone involved that there is understanding for late pick-ups and container empties caused by the crisis. We urge the citizens not to put any collectibles next to the containers. As long as we have enough staff, every container will be emptied,” promised Martin Wittmann, Vice President of the bvse.

12.05.2020

TEXTILE INITIATIVES INVITE GOVERNMENTS AND ENTERPRISES TO ACT

In a joint declaration, ten initiatives and organizations working for better working conditions in the textile industry call on governments and textile companies to take urgent action in the corona crisis.
End of April, the initiatives presented a common vision for social security and responsible entrepreneurship in this crisis.
 
In the joint statement AGT, amfori, Better Buying, Fair Labor Association, Fair Wear Foundation, ETI Norway and ETI UK, IDH, the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles and Solidaridad expressed deep concern for the health and livelihoods of millions of workers in the clothing industry and their families.
 
Covid-19 is having a devastating impact on the global textile industry. Most factory workers earned too little to care adequately for themselves and their families. As social security systems are lacking in many countries, the current crisis has hit these people particularly hard.

In a joint declaration, ten initiatives and organizations working for better working conditions in the textile industry call on governments and textile companies to take urgent action in the corona crisis.
End of April, the initiatives presented a common vision for social security and responsible entrepreneurship in this crisis.
 
In the joint statement AGT, amfori, Better Buying, Fair Labor Association, Fair Wear Foundation, ETI Norway and ETI UK, IDH, the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles and Solidaridad expressed deep concern for the health and livelihoods of millions of workers in the clothing industry and their families.
 
Covid-19 is having a devastating impact on the global textile industry. Most factory workers earned too little to care adequately for themselves and their families. As social security systems are lacking in many countries, the current crisis has hit these people particularly hard.

Workers need aid funds
In their letter to the governments in the producing countries, the initiatives and organizations appeal to protect the incomes and health of the workers and to support employers in this task: “The factories must pay wages and salaries on time to ensure the workers who remain actively employed. "

If factories have to close temporarily, it should be a top priority for all concerned to support the workers directly or to help them access financial ressources. This is the only way they can bridge the time while they cannot work.

Governments of the importing countries and multilateral organizations should also act now. In addition to providing support for retail and brand companies, they should also provide aid funds for people in the producing countries.

Seven of the ten initiatives and organizations are member-based and represent around 2,000 retail and brand companies that are currently facing immense challenges. Despite the dramatic situation, companies are required to comply with their due diligence requirements and to find solutions together with their business partners. The declaration contains a list of important points that textile companies worldwide should consider.
This includes:  

  • Companies should support factories to implement the necessary security measures to reduce the risk of infection.
  • Orders that have already been completed and are in production should be paid in full if possible.
  • Companies are advised to avoid the termination of planned orders.
  • They should be flexible when factories have to change delivery times and / or change payment methods.
  • They should not end business relationships without first looking for alternatives with their local partners.

Rehearsal for the future
Urgent action is now necessary in the crisis. But long-term systemic improvements in textile supply chains should already be considered and shaped. Fair payment and partnership-based cooperation between retailers, brands and suppliers should become the “new normal” after the crisis and are just as important as social security.    

"The current situation also offers the opportunity to make social security systems more sustainable so that times of unemployment do not immediately threaten the existence of workers," the statement said. The initiatives and organizations are also working on additional recommendations to support companies and other actors in the post-crisis period.

The text of the declaration is available for separate download.

Source:

Partnership for Sustainable Textiles

Bild: Christine Sponchia auf Pixabay
05.05.2020

COVID-19: German Down and Feather Industry exemplary in Terms of Hygiene

  • Update on the economic situation of the industry
  • Supply availability secured for the next half-year
  • E-commerce wins in the crisis
  • Sector survey of the Association of the German Down and Feather Industry VDFI and Traumpass e.V. on the occasion of the Corona crisis

The corona pandemic not only poses great challenges for each and every one of us, but also for our businesses as an industry. The decisions of the Federal Government and the federal states to close down shops and restrict freedom of mobility have hit the predominantly medium-sized down and feather industry hard, not only on the sales side, but also through their trading partners. The declining demand was compounded by the industry's international dependencies within the supply chains, since the filling material, the covers and the packaging materials are largely imported.

  • Update on the economic situation of the industry
  • Supply availability secured for the next half-year
  • E-commerce wins in the crisis
  • Sector survey of the Association of the German Down and Feather Industry VDFI and Traumpass e.V. on the occasion of the Corona crisis

The corona pandemic not only poses great challenges for each and every one of us, but also for our businesses as an industry. The decisions of the Federal Government and the federal states to close down shops and restrict freedom of mobility have hit the predominantly medium-sized down and feather industry hard, not only on the sales side, but also through their trading partners. The declining demand was compounded by the industry's international dependencies within the supply chains, since the filling material, the covers and the packaging materials are largely imported. The closure of the borders within Europe and the overall tense global logistics situation contributed significantly to the worsening of the situation.
 
In the past few days, the federal and state governments have started cautious attempts to ease the contact bans and to revive the economy with a sense of proportion. The opening of shops and the continuation of business activities prompted the down and feather associations to question the status quo of the sector with an extensive survey.

Although the companies named significant losses in their turnover, they currently still got off relatively lightly compared with other sectors. Two thirds of the companies stated that they had suffered up to 25% sales losses due to the corona crisis. Approximately 17% reported a decline of up to 50%, the ones with same percentage were much harder hit with a decline of up to 75%.

On the occasion of Heimtextil in January 2020, the association's sector statement had described the position of the specialised trade as still stable from the bedding manufacturers' point of view: By expanding the range of services, such as cleaning down and feathers or refilling existing bedding, the local store was increasingly becoming a point of contact for consumers. Supporting the advisory competence and the deployment of sleep experts made an impact. This picture has changed significantly as a result of the contact ban:

The clear loser in terms of demand on the various sales channels, caused by the shop closures, was the traditional retail: 92% of the surveyed manufacturing companies registered declining demand for the retail trade, 90% for the furniture trade and 80% for the specialty stores. Even for the discounters, whose opening hours were not affected, 33% noted a drop in demand; 44% estimated the demand situation as unchanged. The winner in the crisis was the e-commerce, although perhaps to a lesser extent than expected: 45% of the German down and feather producers recorded an increase in demand, 36% estimated the level as unchanged.

In terms of supply capability, the industry in Germany considers itself as well positioned: Two thirds see no bottlenecks for the fulfilment of closed contracts within the next three months, and the majority also offers free capacities beyond that. And 55% guarantee this ability to deliver even for the next six months, including the satisfaction of additional requirements.

While 2019 was a year of consolidation for the German down and feather sector and, after difficult months with sharply increased raw material prices, a calming down on a high level prevailed, good results from the previous year were maintained and, in some cases, even increased, the assessment for 2020 is much more pessimistic.

As far as the price situation for the coming autumn/winter season is concerned, member companies were correspondingly cautious in their forecasts.    
The unresolved and in some cases very fragile situation in the supplier countries currently not allows to make reliable statements. At the earliest in late summer, a well-founded opinion can be obtained. Especially since 45% of the companies expect to be confronted with requests for price reductions.
 
The down and feather industry is a professional when it comes to hygiene. The highest purity requirements are placed on down and feathers: Before being used as filling material, they must be cleaned by thorough water washing and dried at a temperature of at least 100°C, usually higher. This ensures that bedding meets the hygiene requirements of European Standard EN 12935 with reliably killing bacteria, viruses and other germs. In addition to the applicable standards, the companies have taken additional precautions to protect employees, trade partners and consumers.

In addition to the intensive workplace and hand disinfection, which all manufacturers have increased, the companies focused particularly on the equalization of the workforce. 73% designed home office workplaces for employees outside production, 45% introduced strict shift separation, two thirds shifted working hours and changed the use of common rooms in order to have as few employees as possible in the company at the same time and thus minimized the risk of infection. At the same time, many companies started the production of mouth and nose masks and made their sewing facilities available for this purpose. A list of the manufacturing companies is available from the Association of the German Down and Feather Industry VDFI e.V.

With the start of the lockdown, the German government had announced extensive financial aid, which focused on bridging payments for small businesses, granting loans, short-time work and tax deferrals. Improvements had to be made for small and medium-sized enterprises. In the recent weeks, the sector has not primarily addressed the question for bridging loans nor reducing the interest burden; emergency aid in the form of financial injections and non-repayable grants was also of interest only to one third. The majority of the association members concentrated on measures to secure liquidity (45%), tax deferrals and the suspension of advance payments of VAT (73%) as well as the changeover to short-time work (73%) and the accelerated processing and granting of short-time work compensation (45%). Also, two thirds requested binding statements on the easing of the contact ban and on the economic upturn.

An update on the industry survey is planned for late summer 2020.

Source:

VDFI e.V. / Traumpass e.V.

Foto: Pixabay
18.03.2020

CORONA CRISIS: BTE CALLS FOR RETHINKING OF AUTUMN DELIVERIES AND CONCESSION OF LESSORS

The effects of the corona virus on the textile and fashion trade are dramatic. The vast majority of businesses have suffered high double-digit sales losses in recent weeks, which are already leading to initial liquidity bottlenecks. Business closures that have already been forecast or decided upon will further aggravate the situation considerably.
 
At the moment, no one can seriously predict how long the corona crisis will last and whether it will not flare up again in autumn after an interim slowdown. "The entire textile and fashion industry must therefore take precautions now so that there is a chance that trade and industry will return to reasonably calm waters in the second half of the year," recommends BTE President Steffen Jost.

The effects of the corona virus on the textile and fashion trade are dramatic. The vast majority of businesses have suffered high double-digit sales losses in recent weeks, which are already leading to initial liquidity bottlenecks. Business closures that have already been forecast or decided upon will further aggravate the situation considerably.
 
At the moment, no one can seriously predict how long the corona crisis will last and whether it will not flare up again in autumn after an interim slowdown. "The entire textile and fashion industry must therefore take precautions now so that there is a chance that trade and industry will return to reasonably calm waters in the second half of the year," recommends BTE President Steffen Jost.

Because it is already clear that at the end of the spring/summer season there will be high losses and many insolvencies because the actual merchandise can no longer be sold. Jost: "A repetition of this situation in autumn is likely to irreversibly damage the diverse structure of the fashion retail landscape!

In this situation, trade and industry must work closely together and act in partnership. It is imperative that the orders placed a few weeks ago need to be renegotiated. Under no circumstances the situation should arise, that new autumn goods are delivered without consultation, although the retail warehouses are still full of spring goods and at the same time new waves of infection are rolling through the country!
     
BTE President Steffen Jost therefore urgently appeals to the partners in the industry to coordinate the organization of deliveries of autumn goods with the fashion trade already now. "In order not to jeopardize the existence of small, medium and even larger fashion retailers even more, there must be no prohibitions on thinking here." Otherwise, there will be an even stronger wave of insolvencies, which cannot be in the interest of the suppliers either. "A fashion trade, that essentially consists only of verticals and large online retailers, is causing major problems for the vast majority of brand producers".
 
The official business closings in almost all federal states lead many textile and fashion shops to the economic abyss. The top priority now is to cut costs and secure liquidity. In this context, the lessors would also have to pay their share. "Landlords must not ignore the corona crisis and continue to charge their usual rents," says BTE President Steffen Jost.

It would be best if the landlords completely waived their rent claims during the time of the forced business closures. At least a significant cut is absolutely necessary.

"Otherwise, many businesses will not survive the next few months and we will see an explosion in vacancies," warns Jost. This could not be in the interests of the landlords, since empty stores do not generate rental income and even depress the general level of rents.

"Above all, institutional investors and lessors have to put aside their return considerations and save the livelihoods of their tenants in their own interests," warns the BTE President. "Otherwise the landlords slaughter the cow they want to milk!"

 

More information:
Coronavirus corona virus
Source:

BTE e.V.