Hermann Bühler AG said it will close its yarn spinning mill in Sennhof, Switzerland, by the end of October, but its U.S. operation, Buhler Quality Yarns, will continue to operate and could get more attention.
Martin Kägi, chief executive officer of Hermann Bühler, in a letter to customers and accompanying press release, said, “Board and management currently see no way to continue the spinning business in Switzerland. Declining revenues due to a shrinking customer base in Europe, increasing competition from low-wage countries and for many years massively overvalued Swiss franc have made the operation of a spinning mill in Switzerland extremely difficult.
Kägi added that the company had conducted “an intensive search for solutions to avert a closing. Unfortunately, all the efforts were unsuccessful.”
He said the Swiss-based parent company would remain in business and that the mill would not close until the end of October to ensure order commitments are met. He also indicted that the U.S. unit, based in Jefferson, Ga., would be expanded and be a “further focus in the business,” an opinion supported by industry sources.
“Hermann Bühler AG looks back on an over 200-year history,” said Kägi, who has been ceo since 2000. “It is the last cotton mill in Switzerland and one of the very few in Europe. Only the outstanding commitment of 139 employees…that Bühler could exist today in an extremely difficult environment.”
He said actions were being taken to support employees in the process. Bühler specializes in the production of fine-count yarns, primarily made from Supima cotton and Lenzing Tencel and Modal fibers, with combined production of about 7,000 tons annually. Sales last year were said to be about $73 million, according to the company’s web site. Buhler Quality Yarns, created in 1996, is headed by chief executive officer Marty Moran.
Most recently, Buhler partnered with NikiBiki, the California-based activewear and women’s fashion brand, to create Premium Seamless, seamless machine-knit products made with Lenzing’s MicroModal natural fiber yarn.
It’s now begun producing an even finer-count MicroModal fabric for Nikibiki and is developing a seamless-friendly version using Micro Tencel yarn.