ACIMIT takes winning approach to supporting members in their global activities
At the end of June, ACIMIT – the Association of Italian Machinery Manufacturers for the Textile Industry – appointed Alessandro Zucchi as its new president, taking the baton from Raffaella Carabelli, who has led the organisation for the past four years.
ACIMIT currently represents around 300 companies who, with 12,000 employees, generated a turnover of €2.7 billion in 2016, of which around 85% was from export sales.
Mr Zucchi, who hails originally from Bergamo, has many years of experience in the industry and is currently managing director of the finishing machinery builder Ferraro, and also executive vice-president of components manufacturer Burocco Valves.
He has been active in ACIMIT in a number of roles, most recently in providing general back-up to Ms Carabelli and working with ACIMIT’s delegation at CEMATEX, the owner of ITMA exhibitions.
His immediate priorities in assuming the presidency, he says, include ensuring continuity in ACIMIT’s approach to internationalisation and supporting the activities of its members in their global activities.
Alessandro Zucchi, President of ACIMIT
ACIMIT is always very adventurous in exploring emerging new markets, with a trade delegation to Ethiopia, for example, having recently taken place.
“I believe it is essential for ACIMIT to support our members in markets where Italy’s presence has not yet been consolidated,” Mr Zucchi says. “I’m referring especially to countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Central America and some Asian countries where competitiveness is still based on low labour costs. For the latter part of the year, institutional trade missions to Cambodia and Myanmar have already been organised and other such initiatives aimed at promoting our industry are also being planned for 2018. We will always be guided by the need to raise awareness about Italian technology in secondary markets. Our intention is to support our members in being present in as many countries in the world as possible. In addition, we are establishing technology centres in a number of countries where they can have a significant impact.”
China remains the main market for ACIMIT member companies, accounting for 17% of all exports, followed by Turkey, India and Pakistan.
Following positive growth in all of these markets throughout 2016, there has been a further surge in exports in 2017 to date. First quarter 2017 figures show an increase in business with China of 21%, that with Turkey of 28% and sales to Pakistan growing by an impressive 52% compared to the first three months of 2016.
Success in Iran
A strong level of growth has also been achieved, however, in fast-rising markets such as Iran, where exports worth around €12 million were recorded for the first quarter of 2017.
“It’s notable that in the first quarter of 2016, sales to Iran were just €2 million,” said Mr Zucchi.
Up until the imposition of trade sanctions against the country in 2006, Iran was a major destination for Italian textile machinery, but in complying with the rules, ACIMIT’s members lost much potential business to suppliers from China and Turkey in the following period.
ACIMIT, however, was quick to respond to the news that the sanctions would gradually be lifted, organising first a trade mission with the Italian Trade Agency in November 2015 and following this up with a roadshow, taking in the cities of Isfahan, Mashhad and Yazd, as well as Teheran, in May 2016.
This involved a total of 27 Italian textile machinery manufacturers and was followed up by an Italian pavilion at the Irantex show last September, involving 25 of them. This decisive action is now paying dividends.
ACIMIT Delegation in Iran
In addition to international trade, Mr Zucchi and ACIMIT will continue to pay close attention to industry developments, such as the increasing importance of technical textiles and nonwovens.
“The technical and innovative textiles industry has seen a great deal of development in many markets, and especially in Europe, where over 30% of revenue in the textile industry derives from the production of textiles for technical and innovative applications,” says Mr Zucchi. “ACIMIT estimates that more than 100 of its member companies are now working in this sector.
Sustainable considerations are also now driving forward machine and process innovations, he adds.
“The issue of sustainability has become a priority for our sector and environmental and economic sustainability is recognised as an added value for many of our customers, no matter where they may be located. I believe it’s fundamental to recognise the fact that Italian machinery manufacturers were the first to make a strong commitment, through the Sustainable Technologies project, offering technology solutions that respect the environment and are efficient from an energy consumption standpoint.
“In the future, I’d like to see the level of awareness for best practices in the production and design of machinery to be greatly enhanced for our customers, and the ACIMIT Green Label to be recognised as a positive asset for manufacturers in the textile and garment industry committed to achieving sustainability.”
ACIMIT Fashion Show at ITMA 2015
Digitisation in Barcelona
ACIMIT’s plans for participation at ITMA 2019 are of course, already underway.
“ITMA Europe has always been the premium technology platform used by machinery manufacturers to present major innovations in the industry,” Mr Zucchi concludes. “Whereas in Milan, many exhibitors focused on products capable of ensuring economic and environmental sustainability for their customers in production processes, I’m certain that in Barcelona the attention will be on the digitisation of textile production, and we’ll see technologies that are increasingly interconnected, and capable of boosting productivity for users, while reducing time to market.”
Adrian Wilson is an experienced analyst and writer specialising in textiles, nonwovens and composites, and current editor of Sustainable Nonwovens, Smart Textiles and Nanotechnology.