Mr Peter Stahlecker, MD of Suessen, spoke to Uma Mishra, Sub-Editor of The Indian Textile Journal, during TEXFAIR in an exclusive interview. Excerpts:
ITJ: Please say something about Rieter's participation & product basket?
PS: Let me tell you a little bit about us. At the booth there are four companies exhibiting, and what they have in common is that the Rieter from Switzerland is the 100% owner of all the four, so this is why we have a common booth. Each one produces for different segments of machinery industry and we feel we make premium quality products.
As a group, together we form a division of Rieter. Rieter has two divisions, that is SYS, the Spun Yarn System and then PTC division with these 4 companies. I can say the sale is about one-third of Rieter and profit is a little bit more than one-third.
Each company has its own sales calls. Though the ground work is done by the same people that we did not change, we have centralised this a little bit. Now these companies have a common sales organisation. We have region India, comprising of India, Bangladesh and Nepal, Sri Lanka and we have China as a region by itself, but for all of us, India is the most important part.
ITJ: What is your opinion about this TEXFAIR show?
PS: Just to give you an idea, first day we had over 25 GMs and MDs Out of these numbers, there were more MDs than GMs who visited the stall. The second day was very similar.
So if you think, this being small auxiliary show, you would not normally expect the MDs to come. There are two reasons for it, one being the show organised with SIMA so they send their main to person to visit and the facilities are very good, which are better than Bangalore's last India-ITME, where we had displayed 4-years ago. I wonder how Mumbai is going to be like for the forthcoming India-ITME in December this year?
ITJ: What according to you is the situation in Indian mills?
PS: I have been looking at this now for about 10-years and basically there are two types of customers; the Type 1 (minority group) are, the ones who always crib about a situation like power problem, government policies related to cotton trading, issues related to the labour union, etc. The majority is of Type 2, who analyse a situation, try coming up with an alternative solution, conclude and take a step forward to proceed. I donít have to tell you who is more successful.
ITJ: What makes you feel more comfortable about the Indian market?
PS: I do not know anything about post-spinning, weaving or knitting but I know about spinning and its use in the industry. All of us, as one, we go way ahead to the top 20% of the next major segment, but if I look at the top 20% of India and China, I feel Indian spinning mills are better at least from what I know. The technical level is very high of the middle management. I see a big change in behaviour. Let me say, when I used to come 10-years ago or more, you would walk through the mills with the MD and there were the workers, nobody would say anything, they will pass by each other without even saying a hello like they were from different planets, but this attitude has changed.
I see the labour force is younger sometimes too young for my age, technical level is so good, and so the relationship gets better. So that makes me proud that we have premium products, and in the most demanding market, which is India, we make the No. 1 volume and thatís what makes me feel proud of.
ITJ: What is the future of this industry?
PS: I am very positive, we are not going to move around like monkeys, so we need clothes, down the line even in 100-years. So the question number 1 is; will we produce in Africa or India or in China? Question Number 2 is; where should it move from India, which is a powerhouse of textiles? No 3 is; what could be better; woven shirt or a knitted T shirt or a nonwoven shirt?
But I donít think a nonwoven shirt or a nonwoven saree will become feasible in the next 50-years. So it will be woven yarn spun from the cotton or cot blend that will be used. That is why our range is very safe and a reason that is keeping us positive. The question is only whether we get the business or somebody else gets it, which is also in our hands. Of course the tides are up and down, but I feel my optimism is realistic.
ITJ: Where should the textile industry go from here?
PS: As we all know China is already getting much more costlier than India. There is no need for a shift because we have excellent technical people here. We have a good labour base. And we have increasing domestic consumption.
ITJ: Is there any solution to this power crisis?
PS: We have these stupidities like the power crises but there is a nuclear plant ready to go, for which, there are 20,000 - 30,000 people demonstrating, and it is not getting started. It is like holding 6 crore people at ransom, that is not democracy, but dictatorship of the minority and everybody else suffers. Once the plant starts, you know these things will be smooth.
ITJ: Anything else, which acts as a barricade for the Indian textile industry to move forward?
PS: Very certainly the Indian mill owners do not need my advice. They know the best of what they should do. As far as the common opinion goes, you call for the government laws, the ban over the export of cotton, introduction of TUFs, so you donít have to be surprised that the government is so optimistic. But this will also change. Our industry is very strong in my opinion.