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TREVIRA. We have introduced the flame-retardant fiber more then 30 years ago.
We are currently at the Intertextile 2016, in Shanghai, China. This is the furthest we have traveled to date, and so far, we’ve had a great experience here, at the show. Today, we are presented with a rare opportunity to talk with the world’s leader in synthetic yarn production for the manufacture of fire-retardant fabrics.
06.09.2016, Про бизнес

– Please, introduce yourself.

– My name is Anke Vollenbröker and I am in charge of marketing and business development at the Trevira company. Trevira is a manufacturer of polyester specialties, some of which are represented by the Trevira CS brand—our trademark for flame retardant textiles.

– Thank you. Anke, how is Shanghai so far? Tell us a little about your experience, here at the exhibition.

– We quite enjoy it…this is our second time here, in Shanghai. Last year we brought a small stand, this year—quite a big one, and a different concept as well.

– Yesterday, you had a special event organized here for the designers. It was very crowded, and we found it to be quite interesting…

– Yes, we did actually. It is illustrative of Trevira’s ideology, which aims to promote our clients at every level of the supply chain, and here, of course, our main intent was to support the customers that are active on the local, Chinese market.

– Do you have many clients on the Asian market?

– Most of the customers, I would say, are actually the same editors that we work with in Europe—they have representatives here in China. These are the very people that put forward our brand with their excellent fabrics.

– Are there any Chinese manufacturers among these clients?

– Yes, we do work with some Chinese manufacturers…
– So, would it be safe to say that Trevira is interested in the growing Chinese market?

– Yes, we do indeed keep an eye on the local market. Of course, our business is still very much oriented on Europe, but we do consider other markets as well, and China is certainly one of them.

– We know that Trevira is the world’s leader in the production of fire retardant yarn.

– Yes…

– Is that the key business for your company, or do you focus on other sectors as well?

– At Trevira, we operate on multiple directions. Our company supplies fibers for the hygiene sector, for instance. We also supply fiber filaments for the apparel and automotive industries, the latter of which is quite important for us. However, Trevira CS remains our most important brand. It occupies an important niche for us in the home textiles sector, especially within the contract market.

– And as far as I know, Trevira is the first company to produce this kind of fiber…

– Yes, I think we were, indeed, the pioneers in the production of flame retardant fibers.

– Can you please share with us, when and how did it all start?

– We have introduced the flame-retardant fiber to the European market more then 30 years ago. At that time, such fabrics mostly went into the sanitary sector, such as hospitals and other medical institutions. That is where the first demand for such products originated.
– Did the contract market for flame retardant products start at that time?

– Yes, that is when the market has started and the first standards in the field were developed, and I must say, that the early flame-retardant fabrics pale in comparison to what we have today. Those fabrics were fairly simple at the time and were quite rough to the touch.

– They were rigid...

– Yes, as far as I know.

– So, at the time, such fabrics were not ideal for the production of curtains, for instance…

– No, they were stiff, and they had a soapy feel to them.

– I heard that they had a very specific smell as well.

– I have never heard about the smell, at least not to my knowledge…but yes, in no way, I would call those fabrics nice at the time. They were, however, quite functional, and they had fairly good fire-retardant properties. It is great to see how far these fabrics have come today. For that, of course, we should thank our partners, who have produced many fancy yarns over these years, and in the process, have perfected the finishing and production processes, so that today we can make polyester fabrics that look like wool and silk.

– Yes, I have seen such fabrics on Deco Off . The designer of Nobilis has shown us Silk Touch fabrics, and I really could not tell if they were made of polyester—they looked like pure silk.

– Yes, I just had the same experience today, with some of the designers that we had here. I took them around, and one of them said, “Well, this is cotton”, to which I said - “No, it’s all flame retardant fabrics”. All our products are polyester, but in different “faces”, so to say.

– I have read on your website that the home textile business makes up about 20% of your annual turnover. Is that right?

– Yes, more or less.

– Has that number increased or decreased in the last three years? As we all know, the economic situation around the world has seen better times…Trevira is the market leader in the production of fire retardant fabrics, hence, your economic numbers are largely indicative of the condition of the market in this particular field as a whole. So, in your view, what is the dynamic for the home textile market today?

– You are right, the situation on the home textile market has not become easier during the last years…that much is very known, I think. Nevertheless, we are quite satisfied with our brand—we have a stable business with Trevira CS.

– So has your turnover in home textiles increased over the recent years?

– I would say it has stayed constant. Again, we have quite a stable business with Trevira CS, but that does not mean that we feel content. In reality, we never stop to explore different markets and search for different applications for our products. For instance, we have developed a filament yarn that has the ability to stiffen. This is an excellent property for the creation of three-dimensional products, and is quite good for acoustics as well. In other words, we never cease to move forward.

– In that regard, would it be just to call you a high-tech manufacturer?

– Yes, of course. We have the ability to add different components into the polymer, as we are a fully integrated manufacturer. For instance, Trevira CS itself is a modified polymer—we have firmly anchored the flame-retardant properties into the fiber that is used for its products. We also work with bioactive substances, and there are certain products we can combine with Trevira CS that can yield antimicrobial properties.

– In the past 20 years, the attention to flame retardant products has greatly increased, and naturally, so has the competition. What measures do you take to maintain your leading position in the field? What advantages do you have over your direct competition?

– Trevira CS is a very safe, high-performance product. We test every fabric, produced by our clients, in accordance with all international fire standards. Some of the tests are done in-house, at Trevira, others are performed at independent labs. Therefore, in the end we put forth a very stable product, as far as the standards go. Now, if we talk about the ideology of our company, what really separates us, I feel, is our firm belief in the notion of partnership. We really strive to be good partners to all of our customers, and we aim to provide them with such promotional platforms, as the one you see on this show. We really want to help them sell their products.

– Do you provide support to all your customers around the world?

– Yes, we do. We have a special customer club, of which many of our clients are members—all of them get special support from us…

– So you help them with promotion and marketing strategies?

– Yes.

– That is great.

– I also want to clarify, that the Trevira CS brand stands for the actual fabrics produced from our fiber, not the fiber itself. We test the products of our clients, and if they pass the test, they earn the right to carry the Trevira CS label. Of course, we do all the promotion for such products ourselves, and we have done so for all our customers in the past. Our brand stands with their brand, and so far, that has worked great for both sides. Another aspect, that I feel separates Trevira products from the rest, is really the high-end feel of the brand’s fabrics. As I said before, all the credit for this goes to our yarn partners, who produce many high-end fancy yarns today.

– Great, thank you very much. I also want to ask you about the Russian market. Currently, we have very few producers and manufacturers there…the market is mostly comprised of wholesalers and editors. Nonetheless, I feel the demand for flame retardant products is quite prominent in Russia, and the contract market plays a large role there as well. In that regard, does Trevira have any plans for the region? I know that there are a number of wholesale businesses in Russia, who buy Trevira products from your partners in Europe, but maybe you plan to have direct partners on our market someday?

– Yes, we used to have direct customers in Russia, but not for Trevira CS products. I have to admit, that years ago, we had been more active there. At some point, we even had the largest stand at Heimtextil expo in Russia, where we had close to 20 partners. We also had European partners who were active there, but today, we have stepped back a little bit from the Russian market. Perhaps, now it is time to consider it once more… I am happy to hear that there is a demand for our products there, but the contract market is becoming more and more important, and I think that at some point, we might probably follow the same concept of supporting the dealers, wholesalers and editors that are active in Russia.

– Yes, the demand is there. More and more high-end hotels, for example, begin to pay greater attention to safety in Russia. Today, safety standards are becoming essential for businesses who want to stay at the top, and if a hotel wants to acquire a five-star rating, it needs to meet certain international fire safety requirements…

– I know that there are really strict standards in Russia…

– Yes. I also want to ask if Trevira is currently considering developing any novel technologies in the near future. Perhaps you are working on some new polymer, aimed to satisfy the latest fashion demands of the market?

– We never really stop working with our clients to improve our fibers and the yarns that they produce. Fashion constantly demands new effects in textiles, and we try to satisfy these demands...This is an on-going process.

– So it is a continuous process…

– Yes, it is a continuous process to optimize our products, so that we can better fulfill the needs of our customers.

– Which markets do you currently consider to be the most attractive? Perhaps there are countries where Trevira wants to increase its presence.

– As I have already mentioned, our focus largely remains on Europe. However, we always look to explore other markets. For instance, we have a representative here, in China, who takes care of our local customers. This is also true of the US, where we have a spinning partner.

– And some editor partners, as far as I know…

– Yes, and we also try to work with [their] weavers, but of course, we support our own partners there as well. We hold a special event there from time to time, where we connect European manufacturers with American weavers. We have done it twice so far, and they were quite successful…I feel they appreciate European design there. Another market we look at is the Middle—we have a marketing representative there as well. There have been many opportunities there in the hotel industry for years, but it is not an easy market…

– What do you think about the Chinese producers? From what I see at the current exhibit, the quality of the local manufacturers has risen markedly in the past years. They begin to pay more attention to quality, and some of the manufacturers attempt to create their own designs and collections. The textile industry is developing very rapidly here, as five years ago, I would not imagine seeing the level of textiles, that I witness here today. The demand for flame retardant fabrics will likely grow here as well.

– Yes, I think quality consciousness has risen in China and so did the attention to safety. They begin to implement strict standards, but the supervision of these standards is still questionable, I have to say. There is a lot of activity in the hotel business here, and even though the market has slowed down somewhat in the last two years, I would say it still remains quite attractive.

– Who plays a more prominent role today on the market, editors or producers?

– I think in today’s industry the boundary between the two is becoming blurred. Today many weavers are taking up roles as editors…

– Yes, I can see that…

– They produce the stock, but create the design for it as well, and many manufacturers begin to approach the end-user directly. Therefore, it is becoming increasingly hard to distinguish between the two.
– In other words, the market is changing…

– It is fluctuating—you do not have clear roles anymore…who produces and who edits. Today, when I look at company websites, it is hard for me to tell what they specialize on.

– Thank you so much for the interview!
– Thank you!

– We would be happy to see you in Russia at the Heimtextil Expo…as we can all see now, the name Trevira has become synonymous with flame retardant fabrics.

– Sounds very good [laughs]!

– That would be great for both sides I feel, and since we have already mentioned Heimtextil, can you share with us some information on which future exhibits will Trevira be part off?

– Actually, the next one will be fairly soon—it is the MoOD show in Brussels. They have changed the location, so we look forward to finding out how that goes. After that, it’s the Heimtextil Expo.

– Heimtextil Frankfurt…

– Oh, and I forgot to mention Orgatec—it is the big office show in Germany. We will participate there this year.

– I have not heard about it.

– It is a specialized show for office fashion.

– Is it oriented on contract markets?

– Yes, you know, architects and other professionals go there to see the latest trends for offices and office furniture. We take part in such events to support our partners.

– To promote them?
– Yes, it will be more about brand staging for us with Trevira CS. We will create several little houses there—you are actually the first one I am telling about this—that will make up a mini Trevira city, if you will. These houses will demonstrate the latest trends in the office sector, where fashion continues to evolve just like in any other field. Cold and formal offices are not in style anymore, as lounges and informal atmosphere are beginning to take over. Fabrics with good acoustic properties are also becoming important. We will have several novel topics there to present for our customers.

– That is very interesting. Thank you so much Anke! We hope to see you soon.

– Thanks!

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