Catalonia is Spain’s top region in terms of the number of companies producing textile machinery, accounting for 54% of all companies. Furthermore, of the 10 leading companies in the Spanish textile machinery industry, seven are Catalan. At present, there are 104 companies in Catalonia in this sector, creating a turnover of some €221 million and employing 1,253 people. Virtually all the companies fall into the SME category, 65% are exporting and just 5.7% of companies have subsidiaries abroad.
The value chain of the sector can be broken down into 4 different areas: spinning, weaving, apparel and dyeing and finishing, which are then used in different textile sectors such as the fashion industry and homeware. Another highly significant area is that of technical and non-woven fabrics, which are then used in the automotive industry, the hygiene and medicine sector, agriculture, packaging, the chemical sector and construction.
Catalonia’s exports of textile machinery accounted for 70% of Spanish exports in this sector through 2009-2018, rising to 75% in 2018, when also Catalonia’s imports accounted for 50% of the Spanish total. Furthermore, there was a positive balance of trade for the 2009-2018 period, while imports and exports both grew.
Talent and creativity
Part of the success of the textile machinery industry in Catalonia is due to the concentration of talent and creativity and where the textile and fashion industries are vital to making the textile machinery industry more competitive. Not only do a wide range of different universities offer courses in textile and fashion, but a number of institutions such as the Barcelona Design Centre and the Design Hub Barcelona ensure the dynamism of the sector.
Technological innovation is also guaranteed with technological centres such as Leitat and Eurecat, as well as the Catalan Polytechnic University’s specialised facility Intexter, all dedicated to maximising innovation in the ecosystem.
Opportunities within the industry can be found by adapting to global trends which are transforming the way it works. For example, sustainability and the circular economy require innovation in reducing the amount of water consumed during the production process as well as the amount of waste generated. 3D printing technology provides greater flexibility and personalisation and can reduce the time to market, while also making more efficient use of raw materials. Furthermore, this need for flexibility demands new approaches to manufacturing machinery in order to adapt to the market.
As a further boost to the industry, in 2019 one of the sector’s most significant events – ITMA, dedicated to innovating the world of textiles – which is organised every 4 years to explore fresh ideas, effective solutions and collaborative partnerships for business growth, was held in Catalonia’s capital, Barcelona. It congregated exhibitors from 19 different sectors featuring integrated solutions for the entire value chain, with manufacturers from 45 countries and visitors from 147 countries attending.