“The 1 900 different knitwear samples we have on display are our business card. We are able to responde quickly to our costumers”, ensures Nuno Cunha Silva, 52 anos, NGS Malhas CEO and founder.
t is curious that although Nuno is as calm as a Sunday afternoon, the turning point of his career happened when he almost got mad during a conversation with François Gros – the only boss he has ever known.
At the time of this heated conversation, which took place sometime in the year of 1998, in Barcelos, Nuno had been working for 11 years at Tebe, where he made his debut as a trainee. Earning the national minimum wage, he made a bit of everything all the way to the top.
He was a kind of czar, responsible for the technical and industrial areas, as well as for planning. The only areas he didn’t control were the commercial and financial ones. So he didn’t take it well when François told him that the companies’ consultants advised a decentralization of powers and that he had to choose between being the technical director or the production director – he could not continue to accumulate the two roles.
“I explained that I liked to go up, not to go down, and I resigned right there”, recalls Nuno, who at the moment had nothing up his sleeve – he had no idea what he was going to do next.
He took advantage of the three months of notice that he had to give the boss to build his alternative: a small, highly specialized company that would be christened NGS, dedicated to the creation and sale of different knits, outsourcing the yarn production as well as the knitting.
Lacking the capital to make the project take off, Nuno brought Joaquim Cardoso on board by presenting to him a business plan on an A4 sheet. The Maconde’s businessman soon secured a loan of 50 thousand escudos for NGS to be able to leave the paper and become a reality.
After taking a leap of faith in 1998, when he left Tebe and became an entrepreneur, Nuno dared to make another big leap in 2013, by acquiring (in partnership with Gabritex) the bankrupt Eical dyeing shop (in the meantime renamed Iris), of which he was the biggest customer.
“It was the right strategic movement. It was fundamental to control the dyeing process and finishes, protecting our know-how”, explains Nuno, who chose to have lunch at Taberninha do Chico, only a few hundred meters from the Iris factory, to where NGS was transferred three months ago.
With a customers portfolio that includes Max Mara, Burberry, Coach or Zadig & Voltaire, NGS enters its 20th year of life with a turnover of 10 million euros (30% of which corresponds to direct exports), 24 employees, a 45% position in Iris (Gabritex has another 45%, the remaining 10% belonging to Eduardo Martins, the CEO of the dyeing company) and a clear strategy.
“Our business card are the 1,900 different samples of knitwear we have on display. We are able to respond quickly to our customers’ requests. Occasionally, the raw material can be brought in at eight o’clock in the evening and is available for delivery at eight o’clock the next morning. We are going to increase the percentage of direct exports, which guarantees us greater margins, and bet on sport, presenting our first technical collection at the next ISPO “, summarizes Nuno, a quiet entrepreneur, satisfied by the auspicious debut at the Munich’s fair – the only sample he submitted to competition was immediately distinguished.
Nuno was born in Aveiro, grew up in Braga, studied between Porto and Covilhã and now works in Barcelos. His parents - a judge and an English teacher - are responsible for the first part of Nuno’s nomadic journey, who as a young university student stumbled around until finally finding his way in the textile industry, which ended up being the backbone of his career. It was not easy. Fed up with Chemical Engineering, after studying four years at ISEP, Nuno tried to join the Navy and after that tried studying Food Engineering. But as they say, the third time’s the charm: he moved to Covilhã to attend Textile Engineering (UBI, completed in 1987) and won his first money, teaching weaving courses under the European Social Fund. He has three children: Filipa, 26, who has a restaurant in Braga; Nuno, 24, which has a degree in International Business and works at NGS; and Alexandre, 15.
Appetizers: Codfish cakes, swordfish fillets, bean stew Dish: Roasted veal Dessert: Sponge cake Drinks: Cedro do Noval red wine, water and two coffees