Terrot – Intelligence in knitting

Look into any textile factory the world over and the chances are you will find a Terrot machine.

The company has been at the forefront of the circular knitting machine market since it was founded in the 1800s and has been behind many of the innovations that have shaped the industry. After one of the most challenging periods in its history the company was taken over last year, and with new headquarters and a renewed sense of direction, Terrot is once again focused on manufacturing machines of the highest quality.

The company’s origins date back to 1862 when Charles Terrot formed Terrot-Werke. The company’s aims today are the same as they were then; to develop knitting machines through innovation, knowledge of the consumer needs and a thorough manufacturing process. The company’s recent history is untypical of the success story that it has previously enjoyed. However, after performing a buy-out, managing director, Peter Schuring, and his team have restored one of Germany’s oldest manufacturers.

Detailing the changes made, Peter, who took over in June 2006, says: “The company went through a difficult financial period for around four years. After buying it, some major restructuring took place. We moved the headquarters from Stuttgart to Chemnitz where the manufacturing plant is located. This move alone permitted a significant downsizing of staff and immensely improved communication within the company. We have seen the benefits of this move from day one. We’ve also eliminated most of the debt from the balance sheet and strengthened significantly the equity base of Terrot.”

During the stabilisation of the business the commitment to innovation and design has continued. Terrot’s new products have been showcased at a number of exhibitions last year and have received a positive reaction from its customers. “The trade fairs have gone very well,” Peter says. “We recently attended the largest textile fair in the world, the ITMA which was held in Munich. During the ITMA our clients could see the developments we have made to our machines and compare our products with those of our competitors. We introduced five new and improved circular knitting machines. For example, we unveiled our ‘high-speed’ knitting machine, which created great interest. This machine runs at 45rpm. Speed makes a major difference to productivity. It is similar to a car that runs at 100mph as compared against another that reaches 150mph,” he adds.

These new additions will be joining an already large array of knitting machines. Peter believes the company’s diverse range sets Terrot apart from many of its competitors. “The demand for knitted fabric is increasing in the world as people use more casual and sportswear. We have machines that knit striped fabric, single or double jerseys, car fabrics, fabric for mattresses, sweatshirts, synthetic and technical materials, and many more. When a customer comes to us and says we need  a machine for a particular job, the odds are that we have it. There are not many companies that can claim this,” he insists.

When developing the range further, Peter is mindful that any new machines must adhere to the high quality that has allowed Terrot to gain a reputation for excellence and durability. “Garment specialists all over the world have been buying our machines for extended periods of time because what we produce is renowned for its quality. I would say there are only two other companies in the industry that can manufacture to the same standard as us. We are competing in the market of top quality machines, our products last approximately 25 to 30 years, where a cheaper competitor’s product might last five. It is not just the machines that set us apart but the excellent fabric they produce. Ultimately this is the value added that we provide. A better fabric generates usually a better price. Our customers have trust in us. If one of our machines breaks down then a technician will travel the world to fix it. Service is a hallmark that our customers appreciate. If a lower cost machine breaks down then the customer is often on his own,” he explains.

With such an emphasis on innovation and on the standard of manufacturing, Terrot’s employees play a significant part in the perception of the company. “The workforce are very important to us, we have a reputation that we cannot afford to lose. We also have to continue to put resources into R&D, where we have built up a very competent team in the shortest period of time. In this area the challenge is to introduce new and better machines that our customers want. Quality, R&D, and being a leader in the industry are critically important for the future,” Peter comments.

It is a future that Peter is busily planning. Outlining the immediate aims for the company, he says: “We’re not looking to be the largest manufacturer in the world in terms of how many machines we produce. We want to make money in this business and the only way we can do that is by making a premium product. Terrot has always stood for quality and excellent knitting machines, which is the reason our customers have been buying from us for 145 years.”

The changes made in the time since Peter took over have meant that the company will remain a part of the fabric of the knitting machine market for the foreseeable future.


Products: Circular knitting machines
Sites: Chemnitz, Germany
Employees: 140