Sales Reports

Textilgruppe Hof

January 1, 2003

Location: Hof/Saale, Germany

Sales: $71 Million

Description: Eswegee Vliesstoffe GmbH
A company of Textilgruppe Hof
Hof/Saale Germany
Telephone: 49-9281-490

Techtex GmbH Vliesstoffe
A company of Textilgruppe Hof
Mittweida, Germany
Telephone: 49-3727-9530

Hof Textiles, Inc.
A company of Textilgruppe Hof
Lincolnton, NC 28093
Telephone: 704-732-3525

Key Personnel
Manfred Knieling, managing director; Rudolf Scholtter, managing director; Detlev Käppel, managing director—Techtex, sales director, technical nonwovens; Gunther Hoffman, president—Hof Textiles, Inc.

ISO Status
ISO 9001, ISO 14001, VDA 6.1

Drylaid, thermal bonded, needlepunched, saturate bonded, stitchbonded

Brand Names
Variopoint, Unipoint, Unisoft, Zetafelt, Zetastitch, Zetafil, Zetawatt, Florbond, Zetabond, Zetatherm, Maliwatt, Malivlies, Kunit, Multiknit eswegee 2000 series

Major Markets
Interlinings, automotives, filtration, coating substrates, filtration, substrates, noise reduction barriers, secondary carpet backings, electrical insulation, foam replacement for car interiors

Sales remained flat on increased exports and decreased domestic sales for German roll goods producers eswegee, Hof/Saale, Germany. The company currently sells about 55% of its output outside of Germany compared to 53% in 2001. This increase has largely been credited to increased demand in Eastern European countries including Bulgaria, Romania, Russia and Lithuania, where Hof has enlarged its sales network and imported its organizational structures, according to managing director Manfred Knieling.
By end use, Hof’s business is split into two categories, apparel interlinings and industrial. In 2001, these two segments were approximately equal to one but declines in inerlinings sales increased the industrial side’s percentage in 2002, according to executives. “Interlinings sales went down 9% in 2002, mainly due to the weak economy in Germany and other European Union countries as well as a significant number of bankruptcies of both domestic and international garment manufacturers,” explained Detlev Käppel, sales director of technical nonwovens. “It has almost been impossible to regain the volumes that we have lost due to bankruptcies within a short period of time.”
This situation has been exacerbated by the extreme pricing pressures put upon nonwovens manufacturers in the face of a general overcapacity situation within the interlinings segment, he added.
Conversely, sales in the industrial segment were described as acceptable in 2002, charting a slight increase over last year. Hof was able to strengthen its market position on new projects and products with the majority of products targeting automotives. In automotives, Hof’s product range is diverse includes hoodliners, dash liners, headliners, package trays and trunk applications as well as carpet backings, foam replacement nonwovens for car seating fabrics and nonwovens for pressure sensitive tapes. Beyond automotives, industrial markets include filtration, noise reduction, carpet backings and electrical insulation.
“The growth of technical sales was continuous in 2002,” Mr. Knieling explained. “We will continue to focus on more technical applications rather than ‘me too’ products for the future.”
The industrial business has also been augmented through a $15 million, three-year investment program at Hof’s three production sites in Hof/Saale and Mittweida, Germany and Lincolnton, NC. Including new finishing equipment, wider lines and other capacity improvements for both interlinings and technical applications as well as a new line for technical applications, this project, which was completed 2002 is helping the company defend its market position for interlinings as well as industrial segments.
Now that this project is complete, the company is focusing on another investment program, this time targeting capacity expansion as well as equipment refurbishment. “All of the plants will be affected evenly,” Mr. Käppel explained. “The investments are planned to help both segments—interlinings and industrial— to enhance quality, lower cost and give us the chance to grow into new areas with new products,” Mr. Kappel explained.
As for the size of the investment, executives would only say that it was in the double-digit million dollar range.
Also contributing to Hof’s future growth is a range of multi-axial fabrics for the composites industry. Developed in 2001, these products are used in the blades of wind generators in sports, boating and aeronautics. Made from filament rovings, which are laid into different angles and reinforced with stitching, these products comprise glass, carbon or other aromatic polyamides. “There are a lot of synergies between these products and our existing nonwoven products,” Mr. Knieling explained.
Additional new products include materials for fusing fabrics, which were developed on Hof’s double-spot coating machines, nonflammable nonwovens for automotive applications and Dilour stitchbonded nonwovens for a range of technical markets.

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