Alsace, France - SENFA is probably one of the biggest companies you’ve never heard of. However, all that is set to change as the France-based manufacturer – part of the Chargeurs Group – sets its sights on further expanding its operations throughout Europe, the Americas and beyond.
In spite of a very turbulent period in the second half of the 20th century – with globalisation and competition from overseas bringing the European textile industry to its knees – SENFA has combined a hard-work ethic and constant search for excellence to remain at the top of its game.
Based Sélestat, south of Strasbourg – and within a three-hour drive from Lake Como in Northern Italy, the historical centre of textile activity – the headquarters are also close to Switzerland and Germany and ideally located for European distribution and growth.
In 2001, SENFA saw an opportunity and invested in a new purpose-built 3.2metre coating line to diversify its core product offerings to encompass wider widths for the burgeoning large format print sector. In 2004, SENFA formalised its entry into the wide-format space by creating the Decoprint division to focus on the manufacture and coating of textiles specifically for the large format digital print market.
The core product line was diversified to incorporate other functions such as fire resistance, light diffusion, block-out and more, and over the years, SENFA developed a full range of printable Decoprint textiles – suitable for solvent, UV and latex print technologies – for visual display applications.
Blaise Humphries, Decoprint's business unit manager, explains: “The initial adoption of textiles for visual display was slow but gradually the advantages of printing onto textiles made more and more sense to the marketplace: Textiles are free of PVC and are therefore much less damaging for the environment than vinyls or banners; they are lighter in weight, so cheaper to transport and easier to install; and finally – perhaps most importantly – they simply look better than many prints produced on other types of media.”
Fast forward a few more years and SENFA’s flagship product - Decoprint Pearl – has become a world leader. It is a premium fabric for backlit applications installed in lightboxes in retail outlets, shopping malls and airports all over the world. The smooth finish, the excellent white point and of course all the necessary fire certification renders it the number one choice for many international brands.
The product line doesn’t just stop at Decoprint Pearl. Year-on-year sales are growing at a healthy rate and SENFA has many new Decoprint products in the pipeline which it plans to bring to the wider market. Boosted by the success of the Decoprint product range, SENFA opened an €8 million, five-metre wide coating line in 2015 to meet the ever-growing needs of its customers and the company is now focusing its efforts on new international markets.
Blaise Humphries continues: “We will be concentrating on developing the North American market with the creation a US-based sales position from January 2017 and we will be employing a Spanish speaker to cover Central and South America. This follows the development of new channels in 2016 when we appointed distributors in India, Australia and South Africa. This geographic expansion will continue into 2017.
“New markets and new applications are the backbone of SENFA's growth strategy. A renewed focus on interior decor and wall covering products should help our double-digit annual growth figures continue for the foreseeable future. The future looks very exciting for SENFA Decoprint"
Whilst the face of the textile industry in Alsace has changed, that hard-working ethic and constant search for excellence have remained constant. One thing is for sure: watch this space for future developments in printable textiles…