"Our ambition is to introduce fashion to the mobility sector"

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Riopele is undertaking the diversification of its business areas. In addition to the fashion sector, the technical textiles industry is a target for the future. The highlight has been the mobility sector led by João Amaral.

1. Riopele is diversifying its business and investing in other product segments such as the mobility sector. What acquired knowledge does Riopele deploy to sustain this objective?

Riopele, due to its scale and installed capacity, has always sought out new areas of business. Furthermore, in keeping with our long company history and deep knowledge of the fashion and clothing segments, we constantly strive for a creative and differentiating approach to the development of new products for the mobility sector. At the beginning of 2020, we understood that the time was right to advance in this process by acquiring the know-how and respective contacts of a company with high levels of knowledge and experience in the automobile segment.

2. What are the company's targets?

In this first phase, our ambition is to introduce fashion to the mobility sector, seeking to ensure manufacturers' acceptance of our strategy and positioning. Hence, we have visited and participated in meetings with the leading manufacturers worldwide and taken such opportunities to present our proposals for conceptual projects and small scale production runs. Internally, we are introducing and establishing new methods and processes appropriate to this demanding industry. We recently launched a new brand called "Riopele Textile E-Motion" to promote this new business area of the company.

3. What new products are under development?

I would point out that the requirements of the mobility industry are not the same as the fashion industry. To include the fashion fabrics of Riopele in the mobility sector there is an exhaustive technical work we are developing. We already have two new innovative and exclusive products that are attracting market attention: textile materials incorporating cork, and materials produced from textile waste based upon the concept behind our fabric brand Tenowa. Our presence in this segment is challenging us to discover new products that may complement and open up new business areas for Riopele.

4. What specific characteristics does the mobility sector present that require Riopele to provide a different solution?

The mobility sector demands another type of time to market between product development and the respective commercialisation. It also has its own language and technical demands that differ from those we usually deal with. Incorporating other raw materials, technical processes, development deadlines, and the actual product lifespan drive us to adopt a different vision and dynamic for managing this business area.

5. Riopele has significantly invested in the field of sustainability. Does this represent a critical factor in approaching such a demanding sector as that of the automobile industry?

The work done by Riopele in sustainability indeed represents an added value on the way to a greener world. The automobile industry itself stands at the crossroads of sustainability. We have manufacturers announcing the end of natural leather, series vehicles integrating natural and recycled materials, conceptual vehicles that are 100% recyclable. Our responsibility is to identify solutions and develop concrete products that can meet these new challenges.

6. From your point of view, how will the mobility segment evolve over the next decade?

Without approaching the theme of autonomous driving, our vision involves searching for more comfortable passenger compartments, as if extensions of our living rooms, incorporating more environmentally friendly raw materials with more significant differentiation. The consumer purchasing decisions will also be more aware and demanding, driving radical change in the manufacturers.