There are many clothing and textile companies of various sizes and types in Lithuania. Some of them - Lithuanian capital, others - develop their activities with the help of foreign partners and their experience. We will review the path of LATIA Export Development cluster companies in Lithuania. The first of them is the Norwegian capital UAB MITTET, which, thanks to the long-standing traditions and enthusiasm of the founders, has successfully expanded its activities in Europe and abroad.
How was your company established?
Our founding company, like most foreign companies, primarily produced and bought in their own countries, but when operating costs rose, they looked for a cheaper production market. Initially, a sub-division was established here, with production taking place in Norway. Deliveries from Norway to the Baltic countries have become too expensive, and the cost of customs procedures has also increased.
On the other hand, labor costs are cheaper in our country. We use the carding procedure to make main product, artificial fur. A branch was established in Lithuania by a Norwegian company that provides this service. We settled next to it.
At present, the main shareholder of our company Mr. Mittet is Norwegian, so he makes the main decisions today, especially those related to investment. We are also given a lot of freedom; we decide for ourselves where to buy raw materials and where to sell them.
How has the company's activity developed since 2001, when the company was established in Lithuania?
2001 when the factory was established here, orders for customers were executed here, and already in 2003, the search for new customers began in Lithuania, the Baltic States, and all others.
What experience did you take from the parent company in Norway?
Since the company was founded in Norway more than seventy years ago, they have vast experience: raw materials, process, sales. Our factory is currently producing artificial fur, laminating, and stitching. Initially, the Norwegians sent machines to produce artificial fur to a Lithuanian company. We got up with the stitching and later the lamination procedure. To work with that equipment, we had to pay off, and we went to Norway with both the production manager and the workers. How machines work is how everything should be. From a week to a couple of weeks. And very often we got consultants.
Over time, I also drove the customers alone, and then I took the production manager from Norway with me on my way to Germany. They knew their Scandinavian market better, and with the advent of our company, we developed sales in new markets. We tried to expand to Russia. It is interesting that we also passed on the knowledge of how to develop business in the Baltic States and Russia and brought enthusiasm for the development of Europe outside the Scandinavian countries.
As the number of customers increases and the number of customers diversifies, the production also expands. As we implement orders, the more we interact with various customers and sewing factories, the more diverse we receive requests and suggestions to improve, change and adapt the product. Accordingly, this was another important source of information we shared with the Norwegian company. We also learned such information from seminars and exhibitions.
Have you changed production over time?
The main package of our products is artificial fur, quilted fabric, lamination. Artificial fur is intended mainly for shoes and clothes. Our initial major activity is the supply of workwear materials. Over the years, we have found more uses for faux fur: sportswear, casual wear. We even went into the realm of fashion. We started to produce material warming, which is a substitute for higher quality sintepon, warming. It is knitted, so it does not twist, bloated, has fluff, the thermal resistance is high enough. Has a fall, does not thicken, but provides heat.
We have demonstrated this product at exhibitions, it is bought by new customers from France.
Stitching - was originally intended for work clothes. Later, we applied this product to street fashion, no longer to produce work clothes, we started to stitch higher quality materials, we started to produce more interesting materials.
Our new customer group is currently the furniture industry. We quilt the materials for sofas and mattresses. Stitching is performed by ultrasound. We are developing opportunities to quilt fur.
Laminating has been for shoes, and it still is. There is no very high-quality lamination installation, but we try to bring a variety of materials from the supplier and produce a wider variety of products.
In what markets are your customers located?
In the beginning, there were customers only from the Scandinavian countries, now from the Baltic countries and the whole of Western Europe.
Many Scandinavian customers have relocated production to China. Several loyal customers have stayed in Scandinavia, they produce in Vietnam, China and send materials to these countries from us because of the extremely good quality.
What observations do you have about different markets?
Basically, the best markets for us are those with four season seasons. Therefore, the best markets are Scandinavia, the Baltics, Germany, Poland, the United Kingdom. Less - France.
In which markets are you looking to expand?
Germany, the United Kingdom and France are always extremely attractive to us. We also had several projects in Portuguese.
What are your plans for the future?
We will not buy new equipment unless those that help produce the same, only better-quality products. We work extremely hard with the Textile Institute to improve our products.
How do you assess the Lithuanian clothing and textile market?
The situation here is extremely difficult here. It can be compared to Finland, where the number of textile workers has recently fallen to 2-3 thousand.
After the entry of China, the Lithuanian textile industry became an executor and executor of orders. Our clients are acclaimed, and nothing is inexpensive, but most clients want results very cheaply, in financial and quality terms. Would love some help from the government. We cannot compete, nothing happens for no reason. Due to the quarantine of COVID-19, some production returned to Lithuania for smaller companies.
This message has been prepared as part of the project Cluster LATIA Export Development, funded under Measure 3 of Priority 3 “Promotion of Small and Medium-Sized Business Competitiveness” of the European Union Funds Investment Operational Program 2014-2020. 03.2.1-LVPA-K-807 Business Cluster LT Project Financing Terms Description Nr. 2