Reportage — Textiles, quality and the environmental protection as the winning formula


The satisfaction level in regard to sanification, delivery, withdrawal and textile rental services constituted the topics of one of the recent surveys that Assosistema Association commissioned to a research center, Isnart, about two years ago. It seems therefore, essential to restart from here, more aware and responsible. The awareness will derive from the data that the research has provided allowing us to outline the big picture. The responsibility instead, should be taken through solid, focused actions aiming at the facilitation and support for laundry market textile producers. Besides, the data we have to our disposal today is rather meaningful. As far as the outsourced services by Italian tourist businesses go, 70.9% of them do actually outsource the sanitazing and hygienizing activities. In this market, the sanitizing businesses provide hotels and restaurants with the supplies of bedsheets (87.3%), towels (78.4%), tablecloths (70.9%). The level of satisfaction expressed by tourist businesses on sanitizing is rather high and worth mentioning as it has gained 8.3% (on the evaluation scale from 1 to 10). About 21% of businesses, that translates to 1 tourist business out of 5, started the process of replacing fabrics with paper progressively. The figure is more consistent in case of tourist resorts, in particular those where economic prices are preferred rather than beauty and elegance.

Nevertheless, over the last years, another crucial aspect has come to light in regard to the comparison between the two types of table linen (textile – paper) as far as environment and sustainability go. The use of the disposable by restaurants and hotels contributes to the increase in environmental pollution and it adds a consistent weight to the waste disposal. The game however, is all to the benefit of textile. It is enough to consider that saving concerns water consumption, global warming, the ozone layer thinning, acidification, eutrophication and hazardous waste. We did our bit by launching an excellent campaign promoted by Detergo, Assofornitori and EXPOdetergo called “Notice the difference?” whose success allows us to hope for a re-launch of the promotional message with the possible involvement of the institutions.

Let us however, consult laundry textile sector operators, who apart from a long work experience will help us understand how and where the market segment is heading. Maurizio Paleari, the Sales Director at Parotex based in Busto Arsizio (Varese), illustrates the activities of Parotex: “the company, owned by the Rovea family, was founded in 1976. The excellence of the production by Parotex is based on the control of the entire textile production chain, on the product development competences and on the continuous technological innovation that allow us to satisfy the clients more and more. Every stage of the production cycle is carried out in Italy, from the arrival of raw materials to the delivery of a finished product. The weaving room is equipped with technologically advanced, numerous machines. Its structure allows to weave at different heights, up to 350 cm high fabric pieces. We are always searching for the best possible raw materials, thoroughly selected and controlled. Because of its resistance to industrial washing, we use Indanthrene exclusively to dye yarns. Whereas in the weaving and finishing stages, Parotex uses products that are in conformity with REACH regulations. All textiles are carefully controlled after the weaving, finishing and tailoring stages in order to guarantee a high-quality product to the clients at all times. We assist clients in the design, development and customization of the chosen item”.

We then meet Giancarlo Rossi, the owner of Telerie Gloria based in Lesmo (Monza and Brianza). “Initially, the business dealt with textile bleaching and dyeing activities. Then, the company grew until it became Telerie Gloria in 1980, founded on the ashes of other businesses of the sector, all of them had been family companies. The photo of our market is very clear: unlike a few years ago, it has become much more complex, and the risk of trying to reduce prices at all costs, will inevitably lead to the reduction in product quality, the crown jewel of the Made in Italy. As a company, we have always thought that it would not be advantageous to develop a vertical production model that deals with everything, so we rely on specialized third parties that supply semi-finished products. Today, the Achilles’ heel of our sector is the weakness of the union between the producers, which leads to market impoverishment. Let us consider that until a few years ago when standard production was the dominant one, with classic colors and finishing for each table napkin order, on average, each request would be for 100 thousand pieces. Today it is 5 thousand at the maximum. In the past, the looms would work for 24 hours straight while today, they only work for roughly 16 hours. We are mainly focused on Italian market today, and our added value is represented by a ready warehouse and by customized products”.

I can still remember the image of 18 looms working at a full speed with a unique chromatic effect, not to forget about the warehouse filled with table linen and accessories, their extraordinary quality and well-designed details.

Roberto Littamè, the owner of Tessiltorre, a business based in Dairago near Milan explains: “we have observed that over the last years, laundries (our main market reference) have been oriented towards productive processes mechanization together with some consistent investments in the technological development. If compared to the recent past, the situation has actually changed, and we are trying to make available better performing products that are more resistant, flexible and more practical. We mainly deal with weaving  while as far as dyeing and finishing go, we rely on specialized third parties. We mainly produce high-quality table linen with our exclusive production in Italy, which constitutes our point of strength. We believe that market shares are acquired through new, high quality items. We are particularly careful about fabric dyes. We use the tested ones, resistant to industrial laundry washing”.

Marco Gastaldi, the Managing Director of Industria Tessile Gastaldi, a company founded in 1893, based in Merone, Como province, says: “my presence in the company translates to the fifth generation running a historical linen supply business. Initially, the products were supplied to hotels and restaurants directly, then, in the ’60s, with the arrival of industrial laundry, linen suppliers started operating through linen rental exclusively as far as hotels, airline companies, cruise ships, restaurants and nursery homes go. Our production cycle is fully vertical: weaving, ennobling, dyeing and finishing are all carried out by us internally. 60% of the production is destined to the Italian market while the remaining 40% of the goods are exported. After a ten-year crisis that had affected our sector as well, over the last years, we have managed to recuperate market shares and increase the productivity index also thanks to the fact that tourism, when the economy grows, constitutes one of the most responsive sectors. In particular, in regard to Italian market, the real recovery took place after Expo 2015 in Milan, and we are hoping for the market demand to grow even more in the light of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Milan/Cortina in 2026. Also, we have been strongly investing in product lines that are realized with recycled fibers coming from biological cultivations, e.g. cotton but also polyester deriving from recycled plastic bottles. We believe that the environmental sustainability, also in case of textiles, constitutes the real challenge for the future of our sector”.

We finally meet Marisa Miravalle, the Head of Industrial Laundry sector at Emmebiesse based in Casale Monferrato in the province of Alessandria, “we have been operating in the industrial laundry sector in Italy since 1990, and in order to meet the market requests, we have changed our production and sales strategy several times. Over the last 20 years, we have consolidated our production with highly specialized foreign suppliers and carried out commercial and industrial joint-ventures with partners from Egypt, Pakistan and China. We have maintained our exclusive Italian production for the high-end products on request. Since 2010, as our core business, we have been supplying linen to cruise ships. Unlike Italy, where the main request is for 100% cotton linen, cruise ship businesses, especially the American ones, choose polycotton and 600g towels that, in case of Italian market, are reserved for high-end hotel suites. The point of strength of our business is the realization of products that are in line with the specific needs of clients. 70% of our turnover is constituted by foreign orders with the majority coming from cruise ship companies that, apart from requesting important volumes of goods, especially in case of American businesses, also guarantee punctual and fast payments. Apart from the Italian industrial laundry and cruise ship sectors, we have also maintained a Made in Italy market niche of high-end bathroom linen and a fashion collection with brands Luna di Giorno and Caterina D. that reflect and underline our presence and manufacture in Italy”.

by Marzio Nava