Two-way trust for Monforts and Riopele
Having only invested in what is now the largest
Monforts Montex stenter installation in Europe three years ago,
Portugal’s Riopele has placed a new order for a further machine
of similar dimensions to be delivered before the end of 2018.
As the owner and third-generation chairman of Riopele – a
company established by his grandfather with just two water looms
in 1927 – José Alexandre Oliveira has adopted a successful
strategy of forming much stronger ties with both customers and
suppliers in recent years.
Riopele’s customers, it should be emphasised, are some of the
biggest high-end and luxury brands in the world, including
Armani, Hugo Boss, Burberry, Calvin Klein, Karl Lagerfeld,
Massimo Dutti, Paul Smith, Versace, Max Mara, Victoria Beckham,
Sandro and Maje.
The 12-chamber Montex stenter has a full
installation length of some 70-metres.
“We now have a closeness with these customers that would have
been inconceivable six or seven years ago, and it’s based on how
the industry has changed over that period, and the two-way trust
that is necessary today, to ensure our mutual success,” says Mr
Oliveira. “We endeavour to be ahead of the field, and key
drivers for us are currently the new possibilities offered by
Industry 4.0 and digitisation, in addition to the push towards a
It’s certainly a strategy that is paying off – between 2012
and 2016 the company, with 1,025 employees, achieved an average
annual turnover of Euro 71 million with an EBITDA margin of
In 2017, Riopele enjoyed its best year to date, with sales
climbing to Euro 74 million and an EBITDA of 15%. The headcount
at the plant in Pousada de Saramagos near Porto has meanwhile
increased to 1,069 people.
Riopele Chairman, José Alexandre Oliveira.
Vertically integrated, from raw
material to finished fabrics
Entirely vertically integrated, from raw material to finished
fabric, Riopele has a monthly output of around 700,000 metres of
fabrics based on synthetic, natural and recycled fibres, with a
specialisation in polyester, viscose and elastane blends.
Production is 24 hours a day, over three shifts and the
company’s key fabric brands are Çeramica, Çeramica Clean,
Tecnosilk and Tenowa.
Riopele’s strategy of close partnerships also extends to its
technology suppliers. Over an area of 140,000 square metres, the
four-hub Pousada de Saramagos plant is equipped with some 30,000
spindles, ten winding machines and over 60 twisting machines, as
well as 204 weaving machines.
The company’s finishing operations are divided into three
stages – preparation, dyeing and finishing – with a wide variety
of processes enabling the fine tuning of colour, touch, gloss,
look, function and fluidity.
A long-standing partner with Monforts, Riopele has a variety
of the German machine builder’s equipment, and dominating the
finishing department is the latest Montex stenter, with 12
chambers and a full installation length of some 70-metres. The
line was installed as part of a Euro 14 million investment
programme between 2014-16.
“This stenter combines production efficiency with excellent
energy efficiency, ensuring a continuous production flow with a
positive impact in terms of delivery time,” notes Fernando
Araújo, of Maquicontrolo, the Monforts agent for Portugal.
“Monforts worked closely with Riopele’s technicians on the
special design, which has a number of unique features designed
according to their specifications. These include, for example,
special J-boxes at the stenter’s inlet and outlet, for the
gentle storage of a high volume of material. The special heat
recovery system was also tailored specifically to the company’s
needs, based on detailed calculations.”
Special J-boxes at the Montex stenter’s inlet and
outlet allow for the gentle storage
of a high volume of material.
The next ten-chamber Monforts Montex stenter which is
currently being built will be operational in 2019, as part of a
new Euro 10 million investment plan.
“We need close relationships with the suppliers of our
equipment, who we know to be the best in the world,” says Mr
Oliveira. “When partners like Monforts develop something new, we
trust them to tell us about it straight away so we can
incorporate it into our forward planning.
Technology and people
“It’s no longer like in the past, when you would wait until
the next ITMA to discover what they were unveiling. This is just
the same as the expectation from the brands – they can no longer
show garments that will be available in six months’ or a year’s
time, because consumers are now geared to having things they
want immediately. These expectations have totally changed how
everyone operates along the entire supply chain.
Dominating the Riopele finishing department is the
latest Montex stenter.
“Our ongoing investment in technology is critical to keeping
ahead in the market, but just as critical is our investment in
our people,” he adds. “Building on our know-how of 91 years and
passing it on to the coming generation is of extreme importance.
This is being achieved through our internship programme,
research and development programmes with research centres and
universities, and special initiatives such as open space R&D
hub, bringing together our research, development and product
engineering teams. “All of this equips us for future success,”
Mr Oliveira concludes.