Mirjam Matti Gähwiler — 20.01.2021

At an extraordinary general meeting held on 21 January 2021, the general assembly approved the new statutes of Swiss Textiles. A new federation structure has thus entered into effect. We spoke to Swiss Textiles president Carl Illi about the changes in the textiles industry and the reasons why the federation has been restructured.

Carl Illi, does the approval by the general assembly represent a successful conclusion to a lengthy debate on the federation’s strategy and its development?

No, on the contrary: I would go so far as to say that we have reached a historic moment in our development. The Federation Board and Administrative Office have been working towards this moment for a long time, but our journey has really only just started. With the entry into effect of the new statutes we are only now truly taking account of the changes in the industry and will be able to perform our duties even more flexibly and effectively in the future. Furthermore – and this is something of special concern to me – with our new strategy and structure we are laying the foundations for a future-oriented industry that offers young people a genuine perspective.

You refer to the changes in the industry: which are the most apparent ones?

Without a doubt, the pace at which the changes are taking place. The markets are undergoing rapid transformation. They are growing faster, becoming more flexible and less expensive. Participants are under constant pressure to be innovative and create new and better products. The market is demanding sustainability at the social, ecological and economic levels. This represents a major opportunity for Swiss companies. We have recognised that these changes affect all our members to an equal extent. And in order to respond to these changes we had to reorient our strategy. Our focus in the past on separate segments hampered – and to a certain extent, also prevented – interdisciplinary exchanges across all segments. But it is clear that increased and closer cooperation among companies, as well as with research institutions, has become ever more important.

We can achieve more collectively than individually.

What form will cooperation and exchange take among the members in the new structure?

All members who possess a high degree of experience and the necessary know-how, or who are simply interested in actively helping to shape the federation’s activities, are able to participate in the five technical commissions we have now created along the lines of our strategic priorities: business policy, qualified personnel, sustainability, technology and design. Participation is possible at any time. These commissions will discuss politically relevant topics, prepare statements of position and initiate measures aimed at achieving our strategic goals. Whereas in the past only a few members were able to participate in our former commissions, the new technical commissions are open to everyone. In addition, these commissions will more actively participate in exchanges with one another, because many of the topics are multi-layered today. Our motto here is: “We can achieve more collectively than individually”. We are the network for the textiles industry. And our goal is to make this network livelier and more active.

Where do you envisage the greatest challenges for the implementation of the new strategy and structure?

I firmly believe we have created a strong foundation with our new orientation, in terms of both content and structure. The textiles sector is highly diversified. Its composition ranges from start-ups to long-established companies, from individual firms through to major groups. Uniting them will bring significant added value for all concerned. However, I can imagine that, especially in the current situation in which all companies are facing major challenges, there could be a certain degree of hesitation in freeing up time for participating in the federation’s activities. But I have no hesitation in saying this will be beneficial to everyone. Cooperation will be organised efficiently and in a targeted manner, and exchanges and encounters with other colleagues from the industry will be highly motivating. Because this has not been truly feasible for some time due to the pandemic, I would like to encourage as many members as possible to participate in the technical commissions where they can actively exchange ideas and experiences.

I would like to encourage as many members as possible to participate in the technical commissions where they can actively exchange ideas and experiences. 

What are the next steps?

The next step will be to create the technical commissions so that they can commence their work in mid-March. There will be a specific concept for each commission: what is its strategic objective, how can this be achieved, what has been done in the past? Which activities should it retain, which new ones should it address? Actively helping shape the federation’s activities and future orientation is a challenging but rewarding task. Our aim is to develop new networks and establish contacts with new players of relevance to our sector. We have also launched our new corporate design today. The name and logo “Swiss Textiles”, in combination with the keywords that illustrate the expertise of Switzerland’s textiles industry and its specialised know-how, underscore the transformation that is taking place. We want to demonstrate that we are facing the future with a positive outlook – that we as a federation remain in good shape, flexible and effective.

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