The Business Year

From high fashion to cutting-edge military wear, Portuguese textile manufacturers are breaking ground at every end of the spectrum, with dramatic results.

Manuel Gonçalves

Executive Board Director, TMG Group

We have concentrated our efforts on the European textile market because brands today are introducing more collections into the market to keep clients interested. The textile business in Europe, and Portugal in particular, has been growing in recent years. We benefit from being close to North Africa. Turkey is our main competitor because it is completely vertical. Portugal has a long tradition in textiles. Textile businesses are divided in many specialties, and Portugal has become extremely strong in Europe. Our main focus is shirts, trousers, jackets, and knitted materials for polos, sweats, and others. The knowledge is here as a result of our long tradition in the sector. The most competitive element today is our proximity to the consumer. We work to be an industrial extension of our clients, to provide quick solutions for their product differentiation challenges, and offer shorter wait times for their idea to reach the market. Our know-how and capacity are important, though the most significant thing is our proximity to the client.

José Alexandre Oliveira

President, Riopele

What Riopele has become today is a result of the company’s constant evolution. Our current production involves not only the way the product is made on a daily basis, but also the company itself. We also have to consider the results of our work from a commercial and a financial standpoint that involves all of the company’s departments. A decade ago, people were saying the textile sector was an obsolete industry that needed to delocalize production and be closer to raw material producers and more affordable labor. However, Riopele successfully transformed that trend through innovation. It also did something that is increasingly important for companies: ensuring the client recognizes the company and its quality of services. If a client sends an order to Riopele today for delivery in six weeks, the challenge for us is to ensure that in six weeks, it will be delivered. In order for innovation to be a reality, the company has to operate like a finely tuned orchestra with everyone working closely together to implement the same strategy.

João Mendes

Managing Director, João Mendes

We were founded in 1947 and over the years have learned how things work and identified trends in each of our four markets. We are present in the fashion business, where we work from middle to high end. We have to identify the latest trends in fashion and bring our clients the right products at the right time. We are also active in the sports business, and more ideas emerge through R&D. Our strategy is already set, and we know where we are and where we want to be for each market segment. Our collection for 2019-2020 is ready to be presented in segments such as fashion, sports, protective, work wear, and sustainable fabrics. In each case, we know the trends and the market. Products for the military are different from selling high fashion or sports items. We maintain our strategy of leading the market in our different segments. We will strengthen our presence in the US, especially with performance sports. We do not want textiles to be a passive element, but rather an active one in the Portuguese economy.

Rui Martins

CEO, Inovafil

Inovafil is a brand-new project for spinning mills owned by the Mundifios Group, the biggest yarn trader in Europe. The group’s daily trade touches 180 tons, with a yearly turnover of EUR100 million. During the textile crisis 30 years ago, companies like Mundifios scouted other markets for textile yarns. The majority of mills were forced to close, as Asian countries started to produce yarn at a cheaper price. Although our parent company exported only 30% of its trade, the executives realized the need to serve customers with an entire range of yarn in order to survive. The key to survival was to understand the market’s changing needs and anticipate future market trends. For example, climate change is having a profound effect on how people dress in different countries. So, to be ahead of the competition, the company needed to predict future trends and plan accordingly. We began our Nidyarn R&D initiative from scratch three years ago when we decided to create a brand-new spinning mill to cater to market demand for both Mundifios and Inovafil.

Artur Soutinho

President & CEO, MoreTextile Group

The textile business in Portugal accounts for more than USD5.75 billion in exports. The home textile business, which we are in, is about USD920 million. The latter used to be a conservative one, as home textiles are traditionally not known to be as glamorous as high fashion or other segments of the industry. What we try to do is show that home textiles can also be fashionable. It is something that users must like the look and feel of, just like clothes. In recent years, people have been talking a great deal about home textiles being related to one’s well-being. It is important to be comfortable at home because that is where one spends at least 12 hours of the day. What we do is bring that concept to customers. The New York Times’ motto is “All the news that’s fit to print“ and we want to do that for home textiles—“Textiles that fit your passion for life.“ And when thinking about our competitive advantage, our location is crucial.

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