A long white corridor guides us to the staircase leading to Adalberto Estampados’s renovated facilities. Along the way, the phrase “That Way Leads to Another Dimension” comes as a harbinger of what we would find.
Having arrived at the heart of the factory, we are surrounded by a harmonious and busy environment. In contrast to the typical greyness of production units, there is light, vertical gardens and lounge areas in this vibrant open space of Santo Tirso.
The directors meet and greet customers, side by side with the enthusiasm and curiosity of the commercial and creative teams. As we waited for Jorge Machado, grandson of the company’s founder and current CEO, we watched the synergy between the various people who make up this young and multifaceted team. Distributed among dozens of carefully aligned tables, they blend ideas and knowledge with the common goal of continuing to expand the know-how and creativity of our industry.
Founded in 1969 by Noémia and Adalberto Pinto da Silva, this family business has never stopped growing and reinventing itself. The business model that began by supplying only manufacturers in the northern region of the country, quickly turned its focus to the foreign market, which currently makes up about 90% of its creative and production capacity.
«At Adalberto, we believe that the Portuguese textile and fashion sector has strong conditions for success, if we can continue to distinguish ourselves positively through product innovation», says Jorge Machado. «There is still a stigma that there are countries whose design is superior to ours, but I believe less in this as a reality», shares the CEO in a speech that reflects his enthusiasm and ambition to continue the «culture of excellence and innovation of the founding couple».
«Design encompasses the whole development of the product, not just the pattern we print on», explains the young entrepreneur. Adalberto Estampados is a leading European textile printing company but provides integrated solutions ranging from design to distribution logistics services. «Companies must be dynamic systems, where all members of each department have an important and direct role in achieving the objectives», he says. «We try to take advantage of synergies between teams that drink from different sources of inspiration, and we have the technical and productive conditions to execute new ideas without great limitations».
«We currently have business relationships with the world’s leading fashion brands, whether they focus on apparel or home textiles and we are seen as trendsetters. It’s with great satisfaction that I see the portfolio of products developed by our teams and the value recognised in the work we have developed», comments Jorge Machado, pointing out Spain, France, Italy, Germany and UK main markets.
Adalberto produces more than 10 thousand meters of fabric annually for customers such as Lacoste, Max Mara, Inditex Group, Desigual, River Woods, Burberry or Disney. «Creative freedom, productive capacity and product quality difficult to overcome» are the factors that, according to Jorge, justify the preference of international clients for the Portuguese industry.
Reinforcing its investment in evolution and innovation earlier this year, Adalberto invested in the acquisition of Pike, the world’s most advanced digital printing machine. «One more step towards maintaining our position as the European leadership in the textile printing area», he explains. «Although some production lines run exclusively on non-natural fibres, more than 95% of the products they produce now come from natural fibres, including cotton, linen, silk and wool. Such raw materials are used in Gamanatura, their own brand of home textiles, which is «a range of home products that allowed us to grow to the point of being one of the main sector’s distributors in the Iberian Peninsula», he shares. «The ambition is to continue the growth in European and Asian markets, where we differentiate ourselves not only by design but also by having a product manufactured in Portugal».
This topic extends to social responsibility. «We are saddened by the negative image the sector has, due to ecological and human disasters, essentially in Southeast Asia», states Jorge Machado. «Our reality, however, is very different and, over the last few years, we have carried out projects that differentiate us in a positive way, even in a European context», he features. As examples of these good practices, Adalberto Estampados consumes electricity from renewable sources, there is a water treatment plant and the air quality is maintained through particle filters installed in all the exhaust ducts. At a social level, the company makes sure to include young graduates in its teams as a way to oppose the high rate of qualified unemployment in the country, as well as the promoting continuous training and the health and well-being of the whole team, independently of the sector or department.
«We are approximately 400 people. About 200 are operators directly related to the production process and the rest have commercial functions for the creation or support of the good functioning and improvement of the company», he explains. In the new executive committee of Adalberto, Paulo Renato Ferreira (COO) and Vítor Cardoso (CFO) joined the young CEO. Paulo Renato Ferreira enlisted Adalberto Estampados in 1986 and went on a long journey until he assumed a leadership position. «I have never dreamed of reaching this position over the years. I am living proof of the possibility of evolution within a company like this one», says the man responsible for the planning of the commercial, creative, production and development areas. In addition to the work developed with major international brands, he highlights the support given to Portuguese designers, giving the collaborations with Katty Xiomara and Luis Buchinho as examples.
Contrary to Paulo Ferreira, Vitor Cardoso is a new face in the company, having assumed the position of CFO last February. However, he brings 11 years of experience in financial management to Adalberto Estampados. «This is my first experience in fashion», he tells, explaining that here «the strategy is created based on the needs of the customer» and that, «as the market gets faster and more demanding, the goal is always to be ahead».
The first steps have already been taken, with the restructuring of the workspace. «We seek to create a dynamic and serene environment, where we can simultaneously receive customers, work and relax», counts the CFO. «The human capital is fundamental for us, so the suggestions of the people who work here are the starting point for this change, and in fact we quickly noticed that our teams are feeling good working here, because they loosen up and come together. Such openness and sharing is very important for creativity and success».
Jorge Machado, who succeeded his father as CEO after completing his training at Stanford and Harvard universities, reinforces the words of the other directors: «our annual planning contemplates an investment component aimed at continuous improvement and productive innovation, namely in areas of innovation, creativity and human capital formation. These are factors that we believe are the key to the continued growth of the company and the industry».
Accompanying the growing trend in Portuguese textile exports, Adalberto aims to expand the network of employees around the globe and increase sales by 30% by 2020. «Our growth objectives, while ambitious, are aligned with our investment policy and supported by some key changes in our business model. We want to create a new beautiful chapter in the company’s history and these values of growth are aligned with the history we are building here», concludes the CEO.