When the news broke that Meghan Markle was wearing a dress by Lithuanian designers, the people of the Jonava-based company A grupė were also delighted: the fabric of the Duchess of Sussex’s linen dress was a product of their company.

It was a celebration for the company to receive the well-deserved ‘Innovation Leader’ award from the Kaunas Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Crafts for the innovative products created, the introduction of innovative technologies and the application of research in production.

The new Jacquard machine, which was purchased with the help of the Lithuanian Business Support Agency (LBSA), was especially gratifying. This was within the framework of the digitisation of the production process project under the measure ‘Digitisation of Industry LT’ (Pramonės skaitmeninimas LT), The EU investment amounted to EUR 122,000 in a project worth EUR 343,000.

‘A new phase in the history of A grupė begins! We are delighted that the new Jacquard machine we have received is “full of life” already’ the company announced, promising an even wider range of fabrics.

Creativity and flexibility in a family business

Weaving machines have been operating in the premises of the former Jonava reinforced concrete construction factory for almost 25 years. Virginijus Vizbaras, Managing Director of A grupė, says that he knew from the very beginning that the new business being created would be related to textiles.

‘Both my parents worked in the Panemunėlis flax factory, which seemed very big to me when I was a child, so it can be said that the choice was made a long time ago,’ Vizbaras recalls, talking about the origins of the family business.

Today, the company weaves linen and semi-linen fabrics, produces bath and sauna products, and home textiles. According to Vizbaras, A grupė is probably the only company in Europe that weaves high-quality linen terry fabric, from which it produces rough and soft bathrobes, towels, sauna aprons, bath mats, slippers and other sauna accessories. About 60 of the company’s products are exported to Germany, France, Japan, Scandinavia and other countries around the world.

‘Recently, we have been reducing our sewing activities and focusing more on production modernisation, digitisation and innovation to increase our productivity and have the appropriate product quality. We are a small company and to be competitive, we need to be flexible,’ says Vizbaras.

EU funding has opened up many opportunities

According to Vizbaras, the EU investment has enabled the company to renew itself as without it, it would have been difficult not only to compete on the market but also to remain viable in general. ‘The new machine we have acquired have helped us to expand our range of products for customers with different needs and to offer home textile fabrics from 50 cm to 360 cm wide, jacquard fabrics with natural or geometric elements, and terry fabrics,’ he says.

Arūnas Burinskas, Deputy Director of the Investment Management Service of LBSA, asserts that for many companies EU investments have become a stepping stone to higher quality, increased exports and production expansion. ‘This is particularly important for businesses operating in the regions, which would find it difficult to digitise, modernise and expand without outside financial support,’ says Burinskas.

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