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From industrial production to provider of textile solutions

The textiles industry is still in the midst of a period of major transition. Swiss Textiles, the textiles and clothing industry federation, presented the 2016 figures for the industry at its annual press conference in St. Gallen. The decline in industrial production is to a certain extent attributable to the fact that the sector has become internationalised and specialised, and is now increasingly providing textile solutions for new areas of application. The strong Swiss franc has also accelerated this process of transition. 


Decline in added value and exports
2016 was another difficult year for the textiles and clothing industry. In both the textiles and the clothing segments, added value fell by 6.2 and 5.2 percent respectively. The total added value for 2016 amounted to 908 million Swiss francs. Textile exports fell by 2.9 percent versus 2015 to 1.06 billion Swiss francs, while clothing exports decreased by 1.4 percent year on year to 720 million Swiss francs. The figures for clothing exports have been adjusted by Swiss Textiles: the official statistics for clothing exports include goods returned to online suppliers. The figures reported by the Federal Customs Administration originally indicated export growth, but 57 percent of clothing exports concerned returned goods, not sales from Switzerland. “This indicates that more and more Swiss consumers are buying online, largely from abroad, and are ordering more goods than they need,” notes Peter Flückiger by way of an explanation for the high proportion of returned goods reflected in the figures for clothing exports. 


Companies increasingly focusing on niche products
The downward trend did not apply to all product groups, however. In the area of technical textiles in particular, exports of products such as ribbons, coated materials, ropes, nets, household textiles and chemical yarns increased in 2016. “Companies are focusing to an ever greater extent on niche products and are developing innovative products and processes for new areas of application,” says Swiss Textiles President, Andreas Sallmann. Today, the industry is active in a broad range of specialised areas, including medicine, transport, architecture, construction, safety and sport. Although industrial production is declining within Switzerland, the industry is still highly innovative and is increasingly evolving into a provider of textile solutions – in areas ranging from research and development through to design, services and recycling. 

Andreas Sallmann also announced that he will be stepping down as President of Swiss Textiles at the Annual General Meeting in June 2017 because the term of office of President is limited to six years. 


Swiss Textiles - Annual Report 2016.