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12th June 2018, Brussels

Investing in factories of the future in Europe

This year’s Euratex General Assembly, held in Brussels on 7 June, attracted more than 120 attendees and offered an opportunity to gain interesting insights about a dynamic moment in which the sector is regaining a leading position in the EU industrial landscape.

The topic of this year’s event was investments in the textiles and clothing factories of the future in Europe. Over the last few years the textiles and clothing industry has invested over EUR 50 billion in the EU – a trend that is predicted to continue in the future.

Euratex President Klaus Huneke opens the General Assembly. © Euratex

Moderated by John Scrimshaw of the World Textile Information Network (WTiN), the conference opened with welcoming remarks from Euratex president Klaus Huneke, who mentioned “the unprecedented wave of young innovative textiles and fashion companies that are currently being created across Europe” and stressed that “not only young entrepreneurs innovate and take risks. In the last few years we have witnessed a strong return of business confidence across the entire European textiles and clothing industry”.

Keynote speaker Irmfried Schwimann, Deputy Director-General of DG Grow, followed with an exhaustive overview of the financial instruments and funding opportunities available from the European Union.

The main discussion was divided in two panels, focused on investment trends in recent years and visions for the industry in the future, respectively.

Guest speakers from Panel 2: Anneleen De Smet (Beaulieu International Group, Belgium), Jean-Luc Barbarin (Innothera, France) and Elsa Parente (Valérius, Portugal). © Euratex

CEOs and representatives from seven European companies presented their success stories and shared their first-hand experience in facing the challenges of the sector, from the need of skilled workforce, efforts in moving to sustainable processes and materials, and surpassing barrier regulations that can hinder exports.

The presentations and debate offered the audience a unique point of view about the actions that can be taken at European, national and regional level to ensure the right conditions for entrepreneurs in the textiles and clothing sector to keep investing and producing in Europe.

The speakers called for collaboration in the sector, highlighting the importance of investing in the development of training programs to “make the sector more competitive and attract younger experts”, and “producing locally to sustain this knowledge-based approach”.

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