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Luxury fashion „made in Romania”. Local Confarg’s experience, mark for foreign T&C industry

In an overview, the unfavorable situation in the textile industry places it among the first in the top insolvencies at sectoral level. While Romanian textile and clothing (T&C) industry still finds itself in a deep recession, a local company from the city of Curtea de Arges, near Pitesti got over the footlights.

For almost 75 years, Confarg had maintained a considerable lead over the competitors not only from the domestic market, but from other countries in Europe too, due to its experience and its great portfolio. The entire production of the former ’March 6’ clothing factory was and is exclusively intended for foreign markets.

This is not a strategy. It’s all about the foreign market demand and about export: external market requires services and this is what we do – we are exporting services. As regards the production for the domestic market, there are factors which are challenges that must be overcome (building a brand, competing with major retailers in the field, a.s.o.). This is a medium-term project for which we are still preparing,” Confarg Board President Vernel Craciunescu said exclusively for Romania Journal.

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The production consists of partnership-type ’lohn’ with companies from Western Europe (Italy, Germany, England). As a member of such a partnership, Confarg is running out-door clothing (tailor, made, finished), produces lots of samples, providing embroidery services and pre-wash.

The perception about production in lohn is that of unskilled labor or/and less qualified skilled, internationally considered cheap. Nevertheless, pretty unknown on domestic market, the Romanian company is one of the textiles producers approved for well-known brands in the fashion world: Armani, Moncler, Max Mara, Ralph Lauren, Burberry, Belstaff, Henry Cotton’s, Cerutti, Ermenegildo Zegna, Pal Ziller, Peuterey, Refrigi Wear etc.

Partnerships that we have built are based on manufacturing quality products with high complexity, on compliance with delivery deadlines, the flexibility in adapting product lines,” Confarg official added.

However, although the financial crisis has had an impact on the business, factory management being forced to stop the activity for a few months during 2010, Vernel Craciunescu is confident and doesn’t think to sell the business.

From the financial point of view, 2014 was a good year and the number of deliveries increased from one year to the next. This gives us reasons to be optimistic for 2015,” Confarg Board President said, who was named on November 2014 as president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Arges. Technological and human resources allow an average number of over 10,000 units a month, the number varying depending on the degree of difficulty of the products that make up the order, Vernel Craciunescu added.

The EU textile and clothing sector is a SMEs based industry as companies of less of 50 employees account for more than 90 percent of the workforce and produce almost 60 percent of the value added, according to European Commission data.

In the EU-28 the biggest producers in T&C industry are the 5 most populated countries, i.e. Italy, France, UK, Germany and Spain accounting for about three quarters of EU-28 production of textiles and clothing. Southern countries such as Italy, Greece and Portugal, some of the new Member states such as Romania, Bulgaria and Poland and, to a lesser extent, Spain and France contribute more to total clothing production, while northern countries such as the UK, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria and Sweden contribute relatively more to textile production.

According to Confarg official, the human factor is the key in the company’s evolution.

Aging workforce, which is evident in all sectors of production, is becoming a major problem in the textile and clothing industry. 50+ age group has a higher percentage and young people interest to occupy the available jobs is low. The disappearance of the schools for workforce training specific to this area will generate a lack of young employees which may undermine the long-term competitiveness of fashion industries. Closer cooperation between industry, trade unions, education and vocational training system is extremely important and is one of the objectives of Chamber of Commerce and Industry Arges program, starting with 2015,” Craciunescu concluded.

About Anca Bernovici