Italy's Miroglio Group is one of the leading international companies in the textile and clothing sector - and a major investor in Bulgaria, where this summer it ploughed EUR25m (US$33m) into a new weaving plant. Niki Tait takes a look.

Founded in 1947, and now run by the family's third generation, Miroglio operates through 40 production companies around the world and across three divisions: spinning, textiles and apparel.

Its total annual production capacity is 15.5m garments, 25m kg of yarn, 60m metres of fabric and 38m metres of transfer paper. Sales were EUR916m in 2005, and for 2006 Miraglio expects revenues to top EUR1bn for the first time. 

Low cost location
Encouraged by Bulgaria's low cost and skilled labour, together with its location at the centre of Europe's fastest growing garment making area, Miroglio first invested here in 1998.

Its Bulgarian manufacturing facilities now span the textile chain through spinning, weaving, knitting, dyeing, printing and finishing plants.

Its twisting, texturising and knitting mill, for example, was established as a green field site and became operational in March 2002 with an investment of EUR22m.

With 180 employees it twists 240 tons and texturises 280 tons each month, and knits 3m metres a year - making it the largest circular knit company in Bulgaria.

First investment
The 30,000m² Giorgetti plant, located in Elin Pelin on the outskirts of Sofia, was the company's first investment in Bulgaria and produces a collection designed purely for Miroglio Bulgaria.

Using four rotary machines it prints 12m metres of fabric a year. A small amount of dyeing is also carried out on site, extending its product range, and there are facilities for pattern processing, engraving, and sample printing using both traditional and ink-jet systems.

The woollen mill in Sliven (Bulgaria) was purchased in 1999 and consists of five plants - worsted spinning, carded spinning, weaving, dyeing and finishing - covering a total surface area of 80,000 m². 

The wool mill was purchased as an old nationalised company called Slitex, which benefited from experienced staff and a nearby textile university.

Combed and carded pure and blended woollen fabrics are produced on some of the most advanced textiles technology available today.

In 2005 capacity at the Sliven woollen mill was 7m metres of fabric, though annual output is now set to rise to 10m metres after the opening of a new EUR25m weaving unit in August.

Across the different mills, annual Bulgarian output equates to 3m kg of yarn, 2,880 tons of twisted yarn, 3,360 tons of texturised yarn, 8.5m metres of woven griege fabric, 5m metres of finished wool fabric and 12m metres of printed fabric.

The product range includes silk, cotton, wool, polyester, viscose, bended fabrics, woven and knitted, printed and dyed fabrics, but not shirtings.

Miroglio employs over 2000 people in Bulgaria, and to date has invested EUR200-250m in the country. This investment is still on-going.

Niki Tait, C.Text FTI, FCFI heads Apparel Solutions, which provides independent assistance to the apparel industry in the areas of manufacturing methods, industrial engineering, information technology, and quick response.