German manufacturers of garment and leather making machinery are expecting a “significant upturn” in sales this year as industries around the world continue to invest as they emerge from the economic downturn.

The VDMA Garment and Leather Technology Association is forecasting a 24% year-on-year rise in machinery sales in 2010, with another rise of 7% likely in 2011.

But VDMA chairman Tilo Ullmer, owner and managing partner of PMF GmbH in Switzerland and Fortuna Spezialmaschinen GmbH, says sales, which more than halved in 2008 and 2009, are still below levels seen a decade ago.

Member of the Association supply sewing and garment machinery, shoe and leather technology, laundry and textile cleaning machinery and machinery for processing technical textiles. Production volume stood at EUR369m with more than two-thirds being exported. In 2009, the main customer countries were France, Poland, the US and China.

“Following a drop in investments among our customers in 2008 and 2009, business revived unexpectedly quickly in 2010,” explained Elgar Straub, VDMA managing director.

“Automation, flexible production, short response times, economical use of resources – all these are aspects that are playing an ever-greater role.

Ullmer adds: “There is an interesting trend in which more investments are being made, particularly in Europe and its surrounding countries such as Turkey and North Africa. China too has recovered, although rising wage costs have encouraged customers to go elsewhere. South East Asia is doing well, as is Brazil. The ‘problem children’ continue to be Russia and the US.”