Textiles machinery maker Rieter is expecting a difficult first half for 2002, but predicts a possible recovery in the second half.

Speaking to a Swiss newspaper, Erwin Stoller, head of Rieter's Textile Systems division, said the company was assuming the market would contract in 2002, however, there was huge potential for replacement sales in the key Asian market, if the global tendency to economic slowdown was reversed.

Rieter's annual sales total approximately three billion Swiss francs, with around a third coming from Textile Systems. So far this year, Rieter's stock has dropped 27 per cent, against last year's 4.9 per cent gain.