year’s top company report was more challenging than ever. The difficult
world economy has left many producers in the same boat—reporting flat
or declining sales and awaiting market recovery. Instead of the capacity
expansions and new market opportunities reported in previous surveys,
this year, measures companies are taking to prepare for economic recovery
are the main headlines. Many roll goods producers have been reorganizing
their businesses and focusing on ways to add value to their nonwovens
to be ready when the economy finally recovers. These plans range from
focusing on core businesses and expanding into untapped markets to
reducing capacity and increased research and development spending.
It will be interesting to see which strategy is the right one once
things turnaround for nonwovens.
Still, this year’s report is not without its highlights. Fresh out of bankruptcy and sporting new leadership, PGI Nonwovens has finalized a six point plan to keep it from repeating past mistakes. Executives are confident that this strategy will keep the company on track for future sales and earnings growth. Another company making headlines is Ahlstrom FiberComposites with a string of acquisitions and capacity expansions. Meanwhile, Vita Nonwovens, formerly Libeltex, has been boosting its North American business with one Greenfield site up and running and another slated to open its doors next month. These plans show that the nonwovens industry is now at a turning point. The leaders of today may not be the leaders of tomorrow, if they don’t watch out. There are plenty of companies well poised to take their place.
This year’s Top Companies report includes 17 North American companies, 15 European manufacturers, six Japanese producers as well as one Middle Eastern, one South American and one Taiwanese company. Making its debut this year is Czech producer, Pegas A.S., which marks the first time an Eastern Europe-based company has been profiled. A producer of spunmelt nonwovens for the hygiene markets, Pegas has been growing rapidly in recent years on an ambitious investment program. Its entry to the top company report reaffirms the growing importance of Eastern Europe as a nonwovens-producing and consuming world region.
As has been the case in every Top Companies report to date, Freudenberg was named the largest producer in the world last year, reporting global sales of $1.4 billion. Like last year, DuPont took the second position with $1.2 billion; Kimberly-Clark was third with $900 million and BBA was fourth with $850 million. Rounding out the top 10 were PGI, Ahlstrom, Johns Manville, Buckeye Technologies, Colbond and Japan Vilene.
Moving down the rankings, it is interesting to note how close in size many of the companies are, when it comes to sales figures. Thirty-one of the top 40 producers are separated by only $100 million in annual sales. This means that a company only has to increase its sales slightly to give it a big boost in our survey.
Nonwovens Industry Top Companies report is compiled by our editorial staff and is the result of personal interviews with top executives at the companies profiled. As usual, many of the companies profiled in this survey do not provide us with exact sales figures so their sales are estimated by Nonwovens Industry using industry sources. Also, all companies, regardless of their headquarters, are ranked according to U.S. dollars sales. The dollar amounts are converted from local currencies using the 2002 average exchange rate, as provided by www.oanda.com. Because of currency exchange fluctuations, some companies’ rankings have been affected by the conversion.
As always, we appreciate your comments.
* Nonwovens Industry has attempted to make this survey as complete and accurate as possible. If you think your company should be included in this report, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.