Italy: textile industry still struggling
After growing for 7 consecutive quarters, the Italian textile industry has to face another trend reversal. After a positive 2014, Italian fabric production declined 4.1% in the first semester 2015 compared to the same period last year, according to estimates by the research centre of Sistema Moda Italia (SMI).
Claudio Marenzi, the president of SMI, the Italian fashion industry's employers organisation, did not hesitate to borrow the notion of "age-old global stagnation" which has been popular among economists lately.
Specifically, even exports, the industry's real driver, given they represent 55% of Italian textile companies' total revenues, also recorded a 2.3% loss in the first 5 months of the year. At the same time, fabric imports into Italy have declined by 4%, resulting in a trade surplus amounting to €822 million. Wool-fabric exports notably recorded the strongest growth, followed by linen, while all other fibres saw their sales abroad decrease.
In the first five months of 2015, Germany was as always the first outlet for Italian exports, with a 10.6% share of the total, though it recorded an 8.3% decrease, reaching €165 million. Romania, the second destination for Italian fabrics, also declined (-4.3%), and so did France, Italy's third textile market (-1.3%).
Among non-European destinations, exports to Tunisia plunged by 27.9%. At the same time, exports to China grew 12.7%, and those to Hong Kong by 9.8%. These two destinations together now represent the second export outlet for Italian textiles. A satisfactory double-digit expansion was also recorded towards the USA (+15.2%), which have now become the 4th outlet for Made in Italy fabrics, after France.
"From tensions in the Ukraine to the fall in oil prices, not to mention the Middle Eastern conflicts and the latest disruptions on the international financial markets: it's one crisis after the other. Within this context, our companies must first of all adopt a global vision, counterbalancing geographical risks, as well as those generated by exchange rates and product portfolio, with greater product segmentation". This is the analysis offered by Silvio Albini, the entrepreneur who took charge of Milano Unica for the last time, having reached the end of his term.
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