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BFF Announces Sale of Business

August 15, 2006

BFF, a manufacturer of intelligent technical fabrics, has put its business on the selling block. The U.K.-based company includes thermal bonding, spunlace and chemical bonding capabilities that supply a variety of profitable niche markets. Founded in 1952 as a division of Courtaulds, BFF was acquired as part of an MBO in 2003. David Lamb, BFF managing director, explained: “The market potential of this business is phenomenal and the decision to sell has been a difficult one. However the pressure of increasing energy prices on U.K. companies will only continue to impact the lower margin areas of our operation. The board has therefore made the decision to sell the business now, as a successful and growing enterprise with real potential.”

BFF is a niche manufacturer, supplying small quantities of highly specialized products to a range of profitable sectors including automotive, interlinings, medical, wipes, smart fabrics and filtration. Working closely with customers throughout the development process, BFF’s strengths lie in its ability to produce unique products made to an exact specification. The company’s downstream processes also allow customers to add tailored characteristics that add value, especially in commoditized markets.
   
The sale includes BFF’s capital assets, which consist of four lines to be sold separately: a spunlace machine that is producing a £1 million gross contribution while running at 50% capacity; a thermal bonding machine that is producing a £0.4 million gross contribution while running at only 40% capacity; a chemical bonding machine that contributes a £2.3 million gross contribution, has 65% of the SNUS (smokeless tobacco pouch) global market and 95% of the European market; and a chemical bonding machine that is a dedicated all-purpose cleaning cloth line.
   
Also offered to the market is BFF’s intellectual capital, which includes two protected technologies: Carbovate, an unequalled process that secures activated carbon within fabrics for effective odor control, and Zeovate, an unrivalled process that locks Zeolites into fabrics, acting as molecular sieves that can be targeted against specific molecules such as odors.
   
BFF is a profitable business that, in some markets, commands a 65% global market share. However with few competitors owning similar technology outside of Europe and available capacity on certain lines, there is significant potential to expand the operation, according to executives.
   
“We will work with the buyer during a hand-over period to ensure that all operational and maintenance expertise is transferred with the machinery,” Mr. Lamb said. “This will minimize the risk and potential costs associated with both commissioning and asset management.”


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