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PRATO’S INTERNATIONAL PROGRESS A WORLD LEADER IN HIGH-TECH TEXTILES
The task for this sector is to rise to new challenges, adopting a proactive attitude to the needs of international markets. To achieve this end, Pratotrade, the consortium of textile producers, together with the industry’s promotional organization, Consorzio Promozione Filati, have decided the best way forward lies in technological research. Indeed, it is thanks to this approach that the traditional Tuscan image of the family-run weaving workshop, which later developed into a network of small and medium-sized businesses, has now become a reference point for new “engineered” textile products. These latest developments by the industry enable it to provide highly technical solutions for sectors such as construction, health, safety and ballistics.
The Prato network of textile companies has responded positively to every demand of the market, opening up new frontiers for business while still expanding its traditional field of production. While innovation has been the main ingredient in the production of new types of textile, in the garment field the search for new, trend-setting styles has provided the winning formula. The area of women’s fashion is an example here, with a range of products which continue to inspire designers and win over international markets. Prato is also a centre of excellence for special yarns for footwear, furniture and technical applications. Production continues to cover all the processes required by the sector, from dressing to textile finishing.
More than a hundred nations around the world are opting for textile products made in Prato. Figures produced by the study centre of the industrialists’ Union show a trend towards expansion within Asia. In Vietnam, for example, the value of exports has increased nearly tenfold over the last decade. China is one of the countries on which the Prato producers are staking their bets for the future, showing a 51% growth in trade and a turnover exceeding 60 million Euros. Riccardo Marino, President of the Prato industrialists’ Union, offered his comments: “The really dynamic markets, such as the latter, are obviously the ones on which we are focusing our main interest. Exports have always been our strong point. Nowadays in particular, with the domestic market setting the pace, the fate of our businesses is linked above all to the opportunities for positioning our products outside our national boundaries. Both as individual concerns and as consortiums, we are strongly committed to increasing our level of internationalization, also by creating commercial and productive hubs overseas.”
Amongst the countries with the highest levels of outsourcing are Lithuania (+41% over the last decade) and Tunisia (+24%), recording a value of exports reaching 13 million Euros for the former and 41 million for the latter.
Italian textiles made in Prato brand are also increasingly visible inside Europe, with the leading edge market proving to be Germany, bringing the total value of exports last year up to 218 million Euros (+6% on 2009). The European market has also seen sustained growth in Switzerland and Rumania, where exports over the last decade have registered an average increase of 20%.
The current crisis has obviously weighed on a sector which has always been viewed as a main reference point for Italian industry worldwide. However, it has been precisely in this recent period that the innovative system of Prato manufacturing has proved its worth. The boost provided by the production policies of the Pratotrade association and Consorzio Promozione Filati has propelled the textile sector beyond its usual marketing circuits, with new business proposals incorporating high-tech content. More than 9,000 businesses have been revitalized, and so has the prestige of Italian manufacturing, which again has confirmed its role as a global leader.