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New on Technical Textiles

Lessons can be learned from the success of others

A major piece of news to have broken since I last aired my thoughts in this column is that a group of Dutch investors is poised to make a bid for Royal Ten Cate.

The consortium behind the proposed bid values the company at an impressive €675 million, but more importantly has also agreed additional funds to invest in TenCate. The formal bid, which is anticipated in September or October 2015, has already won the support of the TenCate’s Executive and Supervisory Boards, as well as stakeholders representing a significant proportion of the shares the consortium seeks to buy.

Royal Ten Cate’s latest financial report (for the first half of 2015) shows some of the reasons that the consortium is interested in its acquisition. Revenues and profits have increased healthily since the corresponding period in 2014, at a time when many companies are still struggling or at least consolidating in the wake of ongoing global economic misadventures.

However big or small the organization you work for, and we should not forget that many in the technical textiles sector are small and medium enterprises (SMEs), there are still crucial lessons to be learned from the principal reasons given by President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Loek de Vries, for TenCate’s current success.

His company focuses on products with high added-value and continually strives to improve on these using its core expertise. It has recently divested peripheral interests, such the digital ink supplier Xennia Technologies, stating that it had learned all it needed to from the association to begin to launch, in 2014, commercial products (outdoor fabrics) in the growing sector for digitally printed textiles (see below).

At the same time, TenCate does not limit itself to a single market; indeed, the financial results record areas where sales have dropped owing to factors, such as the sluggishness of other industries, beyond TenCate’s control. By being active in just enough areas that a proper focus can be maintained on each, TenCate is able to grow some of its businesses enough to more than compensate for those affected by external factors. Despite its size, the company focuses on just five core markets: Protective Fabrics; Advanced Composites; Advanced Armour; Geosynthetics; (artificial) Grass.

Finally, even though one of its businesses, Advanced Armour, continues to make a loss, this does not deter the company from investing time and money to turn things around, in particular in the development of what it sees as an important new product, the active blast countermeasure system (TenCate ABDS). Acquired in 2012, this is one of the replacements that TenCate is backing to compensate when existing successful products wane or hit the downturn of a cyclical market.

With the company’s track record of success to date, and the promise of investment to come, few would back against this approach, certainly not the consortium seeking to be the new owner, who back the existing strategy and are prepared to find significant funds to support it.

Digital textile printing comes of age

Digital printing of fabrics and even garments is set to revolutionize the textiles industry.

In April 2014, the Federation of European Screenprinters Associations (FESPA) began a major global survey, called Print Census, of the industrial print industry, concluding its research just before and announcing the results during the latest edition of its principal exhibition, FESPA 2015 Global Expo, which was held in Cologne, Germany, on 18–22 May 2015.

One of the study’s key findings was that digital wide-format printing is seen as an enabling technology. More than half of the survey’s respondents indicated their intent to buy digital wide-format printing equipment, with an average budget of €100 000. Further, one of the largest sectors to benefit will be that for textile printers, with 21% of these purchasing plans earmarked for such equipment.

One of the exhibitors in Cologne, Mimaki, estimates the potential market for digital textile printing to be worth a colossal US$164 billion, but adds that at present only 2% of all textiles worldwide are printed this way. Mimaki sees the developed regions of the world – the European Union (EU), China, Japan and the USA – as being the largest consumers of digitally printed textiles, and predicts Europe will be an important location for their production too.

Several recent pieces of news back up these opinions:

Read about these developments on the site now and, for more on this fast-moving sector, return in the near future, when we will have posted Niki Tait’s review from the FESPA 2015 Global Expo, covering the latest technology and equipment for digitally printing textiles.

A record-breaking number of visitors to a recent international exhibition on industrial printing saw lots of interest for the textile sector.

Textile Coating and Laminating Conference - Early-bird registration open

The next International Conference on Textile Coating and Laminating will be held on 16-17 March 2016 at the Novotel Praha Wenceslas Square in Prague, Czech Republic.
Next year’s event will include presentations covering the key economic and technology trends, including the state of the industry, techniques and materials, technology for growth, and new opportunities. Speakers from senior positions in some of the most influential companies in this sector from around the world will gather in Prague to present to delegates.

Early-bird registration is now open, click here for special rates on delegate registration and table top exhibits.

The Conference Programme will be announced soon and to register for updates visit the conference website


The presentations of proceedings from the Conference on Nonwovens for High-performance Applications (March 2015) and the International Conference on Textile Coating and Laminating (November 2014) are available to purchase on a CD-Rom as PDF files.

NHPA2015, the second Conference on High-performance Applications, concluded that significant growth is anticipated for high-performance nonwovens. NHPA2015 was held in Cannes, France 4-5 March 2015. The 19 presentations as given at the conference are now available on a CD-Rom in PDF format, plus the audio files of the discussion workshops. For more information on the papers and speakers click here

TCL2014, the International Conference on Textile Coating and Laminating, was held in the Novotel Montfleury in Cannes, France, 4-5 November 2014. More than 100 senior staff from around the world attended to hear two days of expert presentations and engage in workshops and discussions. The 21 presentations as given at the conference are now available on this CD-Rom in PDF format. For more information on the papers presented click here  


Latest Features

If the consumer desire for groundbreaking wearable technologies has at times been questioned, the crowdfunding site Kickstarter offers some pretty concrete reassurances, reports Adrian Wilson.  At the same time, there are few guarantees for investors.

The extension of Techtextil to four days gives visitors more opportunities to see the plentiful innovations exhibited; Editor Nick Butler picks his highlights of those that involving developments with fabrics.

Underpinning much of the commercial innovation exhibited at Techtextil is an infrastructure that supports the industry: a flourishing research base; independent testing centres; international standards; the means to assure quality.

Techtextil has grown continuously during the lifetime of this magazine, as has the importance of high-performance applications for nonwovens. Another record-breaking exhibition provides plenty of evidence to support both these statements.