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Industry Talk

Portugal bounced back in 2021

Knitwear and home textiles are now in high demand and saw sales climb to €5.4 billion last year.

28th March 2022

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Pousada de Saramagos, Portugal


After two years of frustration due to the pandemic, the Portuguese textile and clothing sector reached an all-time high in international markets in 2021, according to leading manufacturer Riopele.

In 2021, Portuguese textile and clothing sector exports were €5.4 billion – 4% higher than in 2019.

Exports of knitwear and home textiles were crucial to this result. Knitwear exports were €2.336 billion, up €193 million on 2019, equivalent to +9%. Home textiles exports were €763 million, up €112 million on 2019, growth of 17%. Apparel fabric sales have not yet recovered from the effects of the pandemic, amounting to €796 million.

Spain, which remains the leading destination for Portugal’s textiles and clothing, suffered the most significant drop of  –14 % or €220 million. In 2019, Spain represented 31% of total Portugese exports and in 2021 it represented 25%.

France strengthened its position as the second most important destination for Portugese taxtiles, having recorded the most significant increase in absolute terms, with a rise of €119 million (equivalent to +18%), now representing a 15% share of total textiles and clothing exports.

The United States was the fastest-growing non-EU destination, with an increase of €107 million (+31.5%), accounting for 8% of total exports by the sector.

Founded in 1927, Riopele, based in Pousada de Saramagos near Porto, exports over 95% of its production worldwide. With 1,083 employees, it currently has over 750 active customers in over 30 markets.

Vertically integrated from raw material to finished fabric, the company has a monthly output of around 700,000 metres of fabrics based on synthetic, natural and recycled fibres, with a specialisation in polyester, viscose and elastane blends. Production is 24 hours a day over three shifts and the company’s key fabric brands are Çeramica, Tecnosilk and Tenowa.

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