Jürg Rupp, Executive Editor

Last Saturday, Heimtextil, the world's largest textile fair for home textiles, closed its doors in Frankfurt am Main. The 2013 exhibition took place from January 9 to 12. According to the organizers, 2,658 exhibitors from 62 countries welcomed some 66,000 visitors. There are a few remarkable changes in the number of exhibitors among the exhibiting countries, which will probably lead to a shift in production.

Dropping Asian Exhibitor Numbers
Before talking about the show, it might make sense to have a closer look at the exhibitor's country breakdown: It is somewhat astonishing to see that the number of Asian exhibitors has slightly dropped. If one takes a look at the countries in the top 15, the exhibitor's list shows some remarkable moves:

Of course, in addition to Germany as the host, countries like China, India, Pakistan and Turkey are leading the list and reflect the major players in this sector of the industry. However, it is quite surprising that European exhibitors from countries such as Italy, Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands increased their presence, and also countries like Taiwan, Egypt and — on top of all — the Republic of Korea with an increase of 57 percent.

One might speculate that this development reflects the buildup in these countries of a strengthened domestic market; or those textile-producing countries believe that they are in a position to fight the big suppliers. On the other hand, it could also reflect the intention of Messe Frankfurt to further establish local exhibitions, which could compete with the main event in Frankfurt and attract international visitors who would otherwise come to Frankfurt.

Heimtextil India
As a consequence, the management of Heimtextil announced that as of June 2014, Heimtextil India will be held in New Delhi. Messe Frankfurt Executive Board Member Detlef Braun said that this move "will enhance our position as a leading global provider of textile fairs. The Indian textile market has always been an international pioneer and is currently the second largest worldwide. With the support of the Indian government and due to increasing demand from domestic consumers in India there is a further growing market for home textiles."

In spite of the global endeavor to have fewer exhibitions and lower costs, Messe Frankfurt is further increasing the number of events. In a discussion, Braun strongly denied that the organizers are probably competing with their own major shows in Frankfurt and mentioned that the shows only fulfill the requirements of the different markets and visitors. With the addition of the show in India, Messe Frankfurt's global textile segment portfolio includes more than 40 events.

One thing is certain: The country mix of visitors at Heimtextil is the most international. Messe Frankfurt says that 66 percent of the visitors are international. The number of visitors was reported to be approximately 66,000 — a slight drop compared to the 67,400 visitors in 2012. However, the Rupp Report has some doubts about these figures: The first day of the show, the aisles were more empty than crowded. This observation was confirmed by exhibitors with a long tradition of being present at Heimtextil. "During the whole show, we recognized that much fewer people were present in the aisles and visited our booth," said one exhibitor. This is a trend, which is also evident at events like ITMA.

Nevertheless, said the organizers, 79 percent of the exhibitors and 94 percent of all visitors declared that they achieved their objectives. The answer from a European producer of home textiles probably explains this fact: "We did not have more visitors on the stand, but the important people, the decision-makers were present. This makes the show more professional."

As ever, the United States is a very strong home textiles market. Several exhibitors reported that the most important department stores visited their booths and that they had some fruitful discussions.

Lenzing Birthday
The only remarkable media presentation was organized by Lenzing AG, the global supplier of fiber brands like Lenzing Viscose, Tencel and Lenzing Modal. Dieter Eichinger, vice president and general manager of the Textile Fibers Business Unit, opened the conference by saying that Tencel has now been on the market for 20 years. He also mentioned that Lenzing has produced viscose for 100 years and Modal for 50 years. With manufacturing sites in the United States, Great Britain and Austria, the company is producing some 140,000 metric tons (mt) of Tencel per annum. But this is not enough yet: Eichinger said that Lenzing plans to erect another production plant in Austria that will have an annual capacity of 65,000 mt.

Susanne Jary, Lenzing's head of marketing, Home Textiles, mentioned that after a few years supplying Tencel in this segment, the fiber now has a strong position in the home textiles market. After being used in terry towels, bed sheets and other home textiles, Tencel now wants to become an important market player for upholstery fabrics. The industrial trials with the fibers are promising: the color intensity, fastness, luster and the dimensional stability are more than sufficient, Jary claimed. A very important fact is that fabric made of Tencel withstands the Martindale abrasion tests, registering a high number of 100,000. The Martindale test determines the abrasion and pilling resistance of all fabric types. The test involves rubbing samples against known abradents at low pressures and in continuously changing directions. The amount of abrasion or pilling then is compared against standard parameters.

As always, the Trend Forum is the focal point of every Heimtextil. Six different fashion studios installed a presentation, which is still second to none. This year, one could say that the display this year was more "l'art pour l'art" with sumptuous rooms instead of focused information for yarns and fabrics. However, it was beautiful to see, heavily frequented by visitors and still the inspiration corner for the years to come.

The next Heimtextil in Frankfurt will take place from January 8 to 11, 2014.


(Textile World magazine)


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