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Alfonso Marra
Alfonso Marra

Interview with Alfonso Marra

Demand for fashionable workwear will evolve to higher quality fabrics

It was in 1968 that Klopman introduced the concept of poly/cotton workwear fabrics to Europe. Since then, from its headquarters in Frosinone, the company has grown to become Europe's leading manufacturer in the production of special blends for the protectivewear, corporatewear and workwear markets. Alfonso Marra, CEO Klopman tells Fibre2Fashion about the company's initiatives.

TT: Please tell us about Klopman's journey so far.

Last year, forty million metres of fabric were manufactured, a distance equivalent to the earth's circumference. With a plant as big as ten football pitches in Frosinone, customers are spread over 64 countries. There are more than 400 employees. We have a turnover of more than €120 million. One out of three workwear garments in Europe are made using our fabrics, with a colour range of over 4,000 shades. Klopman, a European leader in workwear fabrics is celebrating 50 years of activity and today is one of the major manufacturing companies of central Italy. Klopman's history began in 1967 when the US fabrics businessman Bill Klopman developed the first polyester and cotton blend fabric for workwear to be industrially washed. After laboratory testing, the best blend combination was obtained: 65 per cent polyester and 35 per cent cotton, which is very much in use today.

TT: Who are your major customers worldwide?

Klopman serves all the major worldwide companies in numerous sectors from healthcare to pharmaceuticals, hospitality, services and retail, and also the automotive industry, security, military, road services, oil, gas, chemical and petrochemical sectors. One workwear garment out of three in Europe is realised with Klopman fabrics.

TT: Which are the major achievements of Klopman as a leading fabric manufacturer of Europe?

Our company represents excellence in the Italian manufacturing industry and operates worldwide. The company's product range is recognised as best-in-class in guaranteeing extremely flexible use, environmental sustainability and quality. This is proved by an increasing number of certifications allowing Klopman fabrics to be used all over the world in order to meet the most demanding customer requirements.

TT: About 95 per cent of your turnover is from exports; which are your major markets?

Germany is Klopman's largest market, purchasing more than 10 million metres of fabric (7.8 per cent more than last year), followed by France (over 6 million, + 0.5 per cent) and Morocco (nearly 3 million, + 5.7 per cent). Italy is in the fifth position, purchasing 2.5 million metres of fabric, + 4 per cent  last year.

TT: Can you share your financial and operational performance of the last three years?

Klopman, European leader in the workwear industry, closed the financial year 2016-17 with a new record: a turnover that exceeds €130 million, an increase of 8.3 per cent over the previous year and a great leap forward compared to the €105 million achieved in 2012. Some 40 million metres of fabric were produced last year: 4.5 per cent growth in comparison with 2015. The significant growth of KAI, the Indonesian joint venture intended to supply the Asian market, represents an important step forward: from 1.5 million metres in 2014 to 6 million in 2016.

TT: What are your expectations from the market in the next 5 years?

We expect that the market will evolve to higher quality products based on the demand of more fashionable workwear. Also, the sustainable aspects of fabrics used will become more and more important. We believe that in five years, the request of uniforms via rental model in Asia/ Middle-East will leap forward. We will also see the introduction of European/American protectivewear standards driven by higher attention to health, safety and environment norms and to employee safety. This would lead to a faster growth of the protectivewear segment.

TT: China has a dominant position in this segment as well as overall in fabric manufacturing? What's your view on China market?

China is a very important and price-driven market. Due to very rigid import restrictions, it is complicated to sell fabric to China. China is the factory of the world and factories need workers and workers need uniforms: it is a market where we will continue to persist.

TT: Please tell us about Klopman's sustainability initiatives and its outcome.

Klopman recently achieved level 3 (the maximum result possible) in the prestigious STeP certification, released by the International Oeko-Tex Association. It represents a new standard system to measure manufacturing performances in terms of environmental performance, occupational safety and social working conditions along the entire textile chain. The certification applies to all processing stages, from spinning and weaving to dyeing and finishing, and analyses the facility's performances in terms of environmental performance, workers' health and safety, social responsibility, chemical products and their use and environmental management. The certificate indicates the general level reached by the company, expressed in a percentage, indicating the level and the score achieved in the six macro requirements involved. (RR)

Published on: 01/08/2017

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of technicaltextile.net.


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