A closer look at 2011 Swiss textile and clothing

A closer look at 2011 Swiss textile and clothing

By Virginia F. Bodmer-Altura

We would like to throw some light on the activities of Swiss textile manufacturers and the Swiss garment industry. The role of the two Swiss sectors has diminished in Switzerland but the industries secured their positions with investments in manufacturing sites outside of Switzerland.

Value added

The Swiss textile and garment industry was 2011 responsible for a value added of CHF 1.19 billion or +1.4 %, thereof textiles amounted to CHF 919 million and clothing CHF 271 million. The industries employed 14800 people or 1000 more than a year ago. Textile industry’s employment was 9400 and the one of clothing 5400. There are 1460 firms, 85.2 % employ one to nine persons, 11.1 % 10 to 49 people, 3.4 % between 150 to 249 and 0.3 % more than 250 persons.


The two segments of the industry exported 2011 a volume of CHF 2.99 billion (-5.2 %) thereof textiles amounted to CHF 1.56 billion (-6.5 %) and clothing to CHF 1.43 billion (-3.8 %). The following sub-segments participated in exports: 35.4% was outerwear, 19.5 % were Technical Textiles, woven and knits participated with 15.8 %, yarns with 7.5 %, garment accessories with 6.8 %, underwear with 5.5 %, home textiles 5.2 %, special surface presentations 2.6 % and spinning materials with 1.7 %. In global textile exports Switzerland had 2010 a share of 0.7 % and in clothing one of 0.4 %.

Taking a look at further details, the spinning materials consisted of silk, wool, animal hair, cotton and other natural fibres and the largest share was chemical fibres. Yarn exports consisted of silk, wool and cotton yarns and the largest segment were chemical fibre yarns. Woven and knits consisted of silk, woollen, and cotton fabrics (largest segment) and chemical fibre fabrics (second largest segment). The special surface presentations entailed velvet, plush, embroidery (largest segment), leno weave, tulle and lace. Home textiles entailed flooring (largest segment), bedding and household textiles (second largest segment) and curtains and deco. Other textiles represented the largest segment, followed by laminated fabrics, nonwovens and special yarns, then tyre cord. In clothing outerwear woven was dominant, followed by knits, leather, animal hides and plastics. Underwear was dominated by other knits, followed by socks and stockings, corsetry and other woven. Leading segments of garment accessories were neck ties, handkerchiefs, gloves, head gears and others.

The foremost Swiss textile customer countries in 2011 were Germany, Italy, France, Austria, USA, Belgium, Turkey, Great Britain, China and Hungary and their total share was CHF 1129 million.

Top customer countries for clothing were Germany, Italy, USA, China, France, Hong Kong, Japan, Great Britain, Spain, South Korea and their total share was CHF 1180 million.

Import situation

Swiss textile and clothing imports amounted to 302421 t and a value of almost CHF 7.6 billion (-1.1 %), textiles participated with 196014 t and a value of CHF 2.13 billion (-1.1. %) and clothing with 106407 t and a value of close to CHF 5.4 billion. In global textile imports Switzerland’s share was 1.2 % in 2010 and 1.6 % in clothing.

As can be seen, outerwear participated with a share of 55.6 %, followed by Technical and other textiles with 10.4 %, underwear 10.1 %, home textiles 6.7 %, garment accessories 6.3 %, woven and knits 6.0 %, yarns 2.5 % and spinning materials 1.2 %.

Going into more details in textile imports, spinning materials were dominated by chemical fibres, cotton and wool and animal hair, then other natural fibres and silk, yarn imports alike and woven and knitted fabrics were dominated by chemical fibres, then cotton, woollen fabrics, knits, silk and other fabrics. Embroidery was dominant in special surface presentation, followed by velvet and plush then leno weave, tulle and lace. Home textiles larges import segment was bedding and household textiles, then flooring and curtains and deco. The shares in technical textiles are as follows nonwovens, laminated fabrics, special yarns and tyre cord and others.

The most important textile supplier countries were Germany, Italy, France, Austria, Belgium, China, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Turkey and India. Their total value was CHF 1819 million.

Looking into garment imports in outerwear those were dominated by woven, following knits, leather, animal hides and plastics. In underwear socks and stockings dominated, followed by corsetry and other knits and woven. Garment accessories imports were dominated by gloves, head gears, hankies, neck ties and others.

Top supplier countries for clothing were Germany, Italy, China, France, Bangladesh, India, the Netherlands, Turkey, Austria and Spain and totalling CH 4603 million.

The most important trading partners

Swiss textile exports went to 74.0 % to the EU or totally CHF 1156 million, 9.7 % (CHF 151 million) to Asia, 4.6 % (CHF 72 million) to the U.S.A., 2.2 % (CHF 35 million) to Africa and each 0.3 % to EFTA countries (CHF 5 million) and Australia/Pacific (CHF 4 million) and 8.9 % (CHF 139 million) to other regions.

Swiss textile imports came with 84.6 % (CHF 1799 million) from the EU, 9.6 % (CHF 205 million) from Asia, 1.5 % (CHF 31 million) from U.S.A., 0.7 % (CHF 15 million) from Africa, 0.1 % (CHF 2 million) from Australia/Pacific and 3.5 % (CHF 75 million) from other regions.

Swiss clothing exports went to 68.2 % (CHF 973 million) to the EU, 15.5 % (CHF 221 million), 8.4 % (CHF 120 million) U.S.A., Australia/Pacific 0.8 % (CHF 11 million), EFTA 0,6 % (CHF 8 million) and other regions 6.3 % (CHF 90 million).

Swiss clothing imports derived to 72.9 % (CHF 3987 million) from the EU, 22.6 % (CHF 1237 million) from Asia, 0.9 % (CHF 50 million) from U.S.A., 0.4 % (CHF 24 million) from Africa and 3.1 % (CHF 168 million) from other regions.

Investment and employment abroad

The two sectors had 2010 investments of CHF 8.9 billion in foreign countries, the majority of these means is invested in Europe with CHF 7962 million, followed by Asia with CHF 537 million, then Middle and South America with CHF 165 million, North America 127 million and Africa/Pacific CHF 102 million.

The two industries employed 2010 a total of around 85000 persons outside Switzerland, thereof 30796 in Europe, 30163 in Asia, 21576 in Middle and South America, in Africa/Pacific 2429, and 459 in North America.


Swiss textile and clothing manufacturers expect a difficult year with challenges and they still struggle with the strong CHF which hampers export and thus profitability. It will also lead to lower order levels and more jobs will be endangered in Switzerland.


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