Samuel Costa
"We had more demand than our capacity"
TI 14 - October 2021


Admitting that 2019 must be considered the ground year, the pandemic found in Sonix and its group a strong fighter that didn’t falter, not even in the worst days. Now that the worst is apparently gone, the company is prepared for new challenges and is impatiently waiting for the return of trade fairs so as to expand its business again.


hat is Sonix dimension and the dimension of the mother company, Diastêxtil?

Diastêxtil is a little more advanced in the recovery and our objective is to close 2021 similarly to 2019. Diastêxtil went from 11 million euros in 2019 to 8,5 million in 2020. Sonix went from 20 million to 16,5 million and Modelmalhas went from 6,4 million to 5,3 million euros. This year we are going to be aligned with 2019 values, with a slight increase.

Was 2020 the difficult year?

2020 was difficult but in what concerns the operations we had more challenges now in 2021. Not because we had the operation stopped but because the demand was higher than our production capacity. There was a displacement of production from Asia to Europe as some clients tried to buy in closer industries. At the moment the operation has stabilized but this has been a challenging year…

In the good sense?

It is similar to 2019, with a slight increase. We take 2019 as the reference year. We shall increase between 5% to 10% in a transversal way to all the companies.

What is the total number of workers?

At the moment we are 500. We kept 100 people from Ricon’s bankruptcy. After that we reduced them to 50 – part came from Sonix – but with a unit in Celorico de Basto predicted to reach 1,00 by the end of the year, we will totalize 550.

Where are the group units located?

Diastêxtil is in Barroselas, Sonix and Modelmalhas are in Barcelos, Pontosinelos is in Celorico and another one which was recently incorporated in Diastêxtil, is also located in Barroselas.

What do you still have in Tunisia?

We have been there for more than 15 years. Initially we had a production unit in Monastir, a structure with Portuguese and Tunisian people where we reached a peak of 100 workers but at the moment we have around 50.

In constant challenge
"We have to get out of the comfort zone and bet on more elaborate products that challenge us"
We have a mature subcontractors’ network and we use the company as a platform with little internal production and focusing on finishings.

What is the group’s export volume?

Our national sales are aimed towards traders who will, in turn, export. The final client ends up being 100% exportation.

What are the main markets?

At the moment are The Netherlands, Germany, United Kingdom and we are entering the United States.

Is it an increasingly sought market?

Yes, curiously we started in the end of 2019. We have European clients that export to the US but which we can’t account for. We have three direct North American clients. We grew last year and the trend, taking into account the feedback we have been having, it’s to continue growing even with the taxes issue.

Is North American economy in a higher level of openness than the European?

Yes. We were caught by Trump’s blockage to Asia but the business is now recommencing.

We also had a significant dependence from the United Kingdom market – it was our first major client – which currently seems to be restraining. We had been feeling a reduction since 2013 and 2014, so an adjustment was made in response to that. In 2012 we had a dependency of around 80% on a single client. A research work for new clients has been done and it now represents around 25%.

Are you actively looking for new markets?

At the moment we are in a phase where we have stabilized in terms of high volume clients but we are obviously not closing doors to new challenges. Last year we started with clients that are growing a lot and are very targeted to a more premium product, with added value. We need to step out of our comfort zone and bet in more elaborated products that challenge us to innovate every day in search for better solutions.

At the moment, we are at a stage where we are stabilized in terms of large volume customers, obviously not closing the doors to new challenges. We started last year with clients who are growing a lot and oriented towards a more premium, value-added product.

What is your comfort zone?

The items we produced the most when the pandemic started were comfortable clothing – t-shirts, sweatshirts, trousers and shorts. However, among the services we offer we can produce almost anything, from tailor-made classic suits to technical triathlon suits, which makes us a sort of one stop shot for our clients.

What sort of investments did it force you to do?

The family acquired Sonix in 2007. Ever since then we have invested around 15 million as we have redesigned almost the entire company. We have integrated weaving machines in Modelmalhas, which is now taking an interesting path in the sales of finished fabrics.

Do you miss the direct contact established in trade fairs?

Completely. There is a whole language and contact that is very important and that gets lost. The personal contact is indispensable, even if the resource to technology is more efficient in the management of the agenda.

There are things that will remain, though, such as digitalization, digital catalogues…

We have been walking that path since 2018. We already have clients that approve models with the physical samples and even sell digitally. There are some clients that did this transition with us, challenged by us. We have started to make physical items and 3D simulation at the same time, and the result was very similar. 3D allows us to save at least two weeks of development.

Is there also a significant cost reduction?

This is the perspective of the client. We don’t have seamstresses on the other side but we have someone who masters 3D, software and hardware, which is still not very affordable…

Is it more expensive than seamstresses?

Well, in the end of the day it is more sustainable but not cheaper. It is quicker, which is an important side gain.

You have recently integrated Crisof. Is the actual dimension of the group comfortable or are you planning to make new investments in companies?

At the moment the strategy is not to increase the installed capacity. We are, on the other hand, continuously recruiting seamstresses.

Do you agree that the pandemic conveyed the idea that supply chains have to reduce and that Europe can’t continue depending on third party industries?

I believe Europe will become more responsive but, if consumption habits don’t change, it will never be enough. If we looked at our business in 2018 we had between 6 and 8 main collections per year. We now add several capsule collections per year that enable brands to respond to specific targets more directly and faster.

What about new projects?

We have a very interesting project based in the trends’ research and product conception area – we are now producing unique items based in NFTs. Sonix can not only work in private label – we have been going through a process of adaptation and we are paying attention to all new trends. Sonix is paying attention to all opportunities and wants to provide a good service. Some things must change. For example, sometimes we ship production to Europe that is distributed in several places until it reaches the sales point. Sometimes I enter shops and see Sonix items that have crossed the entire Europe before being put into sale there, half an hour away from the company which produced them. Logistics will have to go through several changes.

Has it ever been in your perspective to create a brand?

We have already created several brands, but not our own. The last example was in 2019: a couple arrived at Sonix with an idea for a brand, with financial support and asked: “Can you help us?”. The only thing they had was a logo, all the rest was developed by us. When we were shipping the items they understood they didn’t have bags for the clients. We developed and produced the bags for them.

So, the question arises with even more insistence…

Well, we own the brand Sonix of more classic underwear. We can either be manufacturers or salespeople. Our clients’ intellectual property must be totally protected and for us that is a point of honour. We cannot compete with our clients.


33, in charge of Sonix commercial and production areas, Samuel Costa wants the group divided between projects with major companies, which represent around 80% of the income, but also niche businesses that enable reaching clients with other types of needs. After the first and strongest impact of the pandemic the group is ready to expand its interests and advance to a new period of growth.

Question from
Conceição Dias
Sonix CEO

What will be TCI’s biggest challenge for the next years?

The biggest challenge the sector will face is the labour force, which is getting scarcer and scarcer and difficult to attract, either with or without experience. The industry, in general, is not attractive and younger people are afraid of making a career in textile, which leads to a loss of good opportunities.

How will technology impact the sector?

We already have state-of-the-art technology incorporated both in product development and production. People will not replace machines and probably the opposite won’t happen either, we will optimize and take advantage of a good symbiosis between both. The internal and external logistics will benefit from technology as it is quicker, adaptable and efficient, particularly from the emissions point of view.

Mico Mineiro
Twintex COO

How do you see the circular economy process in the near future of production in Portugal?

It is happening but the change will be too big to happen in a timely manner. There is still the need to make many adjustments to the industrial part, including joining the interested parties and creating more global and aggregating solutions .

What’s your opinion on the impact the pandemic will have in consumers?

Not everything brought by the pandemic is bad. Consumers have become much more receptive to new forms of buying and, consequently, to try new brands. Consumers are more curious about the productive processes and look for articles that are more environmentally friendly, with more efficient and less harmful compositions and methodologies.