Danish nonwovens producer Fibertex is kicking off the new year with the establishment of a new operation in South Africa. The new facility will make and market needlepunch nonwovens primarily geotextiles for road construction but also products for the growing South African automotive industry.
According to the company, it hopes to capitalize on growth in South Africa where plans are in place to invest more than $96 billion in infrastructure improvements during the next five years.
“This is a significant expansion of the infrastructure in large parts of southern Africa which will even be further increased in the coming years. Large road and bridge construction projects etc. have been launched and more are underway. Geotextiles are essential elements to such projects and this is where we come in with our high-tech production at competitive prices,” said Jørgen Bech Madsen, CEO of Fibertex Industrial Nonwovens.
The new, high-tech, state-of-the-art factory will initially employ just over 40 employees. Annual turnover is expected to be approximately $12-15 million with decent profit in the coming years. From a long-term strategic perspective, the project furthermore serves as a bridgehead–not only to southern Africa but eventually also to other markets in the Southern Hemisphere such as Australasia, India, the Middle East and South America.
“As owners, we see a vast potential in this initiative which both internationalizes Fibertex and makes Fibertex Industrial Nonwovens a local and regional player able to compete with the other nonwovens manufacturers in this part of the world,” says Jens Bjerg Sørensen, President of Schouw & Co.
The South African company is jointly owned by Fibertex, the Danish Industrialization Fund for Developing Countries (IFU) and the South African company Safyr, which is owned partly by local industry specialists and partly by Industrial Development Corporation (IDC)—South Africa’s equivalent to the Danish State investment fund Vækstfonden. Fibertex will invest approximately $5 million in the company, acquiring a 26% ownership share. IFU has previously participated in a similar Fibertex project in Malaysia, and Fibertex has the option of acquiring IFU’s 25.8% in the future.