Euratex General Assembly

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Proximity and Personalisation Key to Success in European Textiles

The future of textile and clothing manufacturing in Europe was the focus of the Euratex General Assembly 7 June in Brussels.

Euratex, the European Apparel and Textile Confederation, represents the textile and clothing industry in Europe.

Welcoming attendees, Euratex President Klaus Huneke called on Europe’s leaders to provide better access to finance for SMEs, rewards for investment into circularity and improved conditions for workers, and a level playing field for intra-EU markets. Keynote speaker Irmfried Schwimann, Deputy Director-General of the European Commission’s DG Grow, followed suit, promising a more streamlined and efficient financing framework for the 2021-2027 cycle.

But the real stories lay in the panel presentations with leaders from a diverse group of textile businesses across Europe. 

Several speakers reported customers returning to Europe due to the desire for quicker delivery times and to reduce environmental impact from transportation.

Customers have changed dramatically, said Anneleen De Smet, Senior Project & Portfolio Manager at Beaulieu Engineered Products, a Belgian polymer, yarn and floor coverings producer (pictured, far left). They now ask for cost-effective, responsible and personalised solutions.

It's a question of "getting back to balance," Ms De Smet said. 

Jean-Luc Barbarin, Director of Innothera in France (pictured, centre), concurred: "The days of mass production in Europe are gone," he said. Instead, Europe's strength lies in the luxury market, and high value-added products.

Since 2013 the industry’s turnover has grown by 14% to € 181 billion and extra-EU exports by 15% to € 48 billion,  while employment and company numbers have been maintained.

If there are hindrances to innovation in Europe, some suggested that this was more to do with legal instability than financing. The loss of skilled workers and supply chain partners was a common refrain.

"Skilled workers are a plank of sustainability," one speaker noted.

In a poll of attendees at the event, sustainability and creativity/product innovation ranked as the two biggest forces driving the future of Europe's textile and clothing sector. Digitalisation lagged behind, prompting a suggestion that the sector was resisting the inevitable. But not by all. One participant was heard to sigh: "We will have to digitalise everything."





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