Location: LONDON, U.K.
Sales: $948 million
Description: Key Personnel
Daniel Dayan, CEO, Carsten Heldmann, head of global research and development; David Keough, global commercial director; Alberto Gaudiano, global finance director; Gary Drews, director North American operations; Derek Chan, managing director, airlaid; John Juric, head of Americas industrial division.
Green Bay, WI; Queretaro, Mexico; Old Hickory, TN; Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil; Simpsonville, SC; Washougal, WA; Tianjin, China; Biesheim, France; Aschersleben, Germany; Berlin, Germany; Trezzano Rosa, Italy; Pontypool, U.K.; Norrköping, Sweden; Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia (JV); Port Elizabeth, South Africa (JV); Peine, Germany; Peregallo di Lesmo, Italy, Terno d’Isola, Italy
Chemical bonded, thermal bonded, meltblown, sorbent composites, bicomponent spunbond, airlaid, air through air bonded
Construction and ground contact, consumer care, filtration, hygiene, medical and protective markets, industrial specialties, sorbent materials
During the year-and-a-half since it separated itself from parent company The BBA Group, Fiberweb has worked at streamlining its global business by exiting certain businesses, restructuring others and investing in areas where it sees successes for the future. In 2007, sales in continuing operations decreased from £500 million to £473 million. Operating profit meanwhile decreased from £27 million to £13.8 million.
Despite these decreases, officials reported that its turnaround program, announced during its demerger, is continuing, establishing a sound foundation for progress moving forward. Additionally, underlying gross margin and operating margin recovery in the second half was driven by Fiberweb’s industrial operations as hygiene has been under pressure from raw material price increases. Growth in Fiberweb’s industrial business increased 4.6% at constant currency and this segment now accounts for 42% of group sales, up from 32% in 2005.
“2007 was a challenging first year as a public company,” said CEO Daniel Dayan. “We continued to pursue the turnaround program outlined at demerger and have made progress in maintaining growth in our differentiated industrial businesses and simplifying the hygiene portfolio.”
In May, Fiberweb announced cost-cutting efforts that included the streamlining of leadership in its European hygiene business. The company’s European hygiene business is now being led directly by Mr. Dayan; Carsten Heldmann, head of global research and development has been appointed global key account director of Fiberweb’s important relationship with Procter & Gamble.
Gianluigi Fornoni, president hygiene Europe and Pieter Meijer, sales and marketing director hygiene Europe, have left Fiberweb.
On the industrial side, Hans-Jörg Oberberg, president Europe industrial, will add Fiberweb’s European filtration activities to his existing responsibilities.
Also included in this plan was a streamlining of Fiberweb’s research and development activities in two locations—Old Hickory, TN and Peine, Germany. Research and development activities in Simpsonville, SC will cease by the end of the year.
In July, Fiberweb took another step to reorganize its business when it created global business units for its consumer fabrics and airlaid divisions. The global Consumer Fabrics business unit is being led by Mr. Dayan and incorporates the European and North American spunmelt and carded facilities, including dryer sheets. The leadership team includes David Keough, previously Americas hygiene commercial vice president who has been appointed global commercial director, and Alberto Gaudiano, who will serve as global finance director. The North American operations will be directed by Gary Drews, who was previously plant manager of Fiberweb’s Washougal, WA facility.
Meanwhile, the global airlaid business—including three lines on two continents—will incorporate the Asian airlaid producer, Fiberweb China Airlaid and the Korma, Italy businesses. Derek Chan, president of Fiberweb Asia, has been promoted to managing director of airlaid, in addition to his current responsibilities for Asia Industrial.
Fiberweb’s important Americas Industrial will now be a separate business unit, led by John Juric, previously Fiberweb Americas vice president of finance.
As result of these changes, Dave Rousse, president Americas, and Dean Hilmer, vice president of operations, left Fiberweb.
These moves will finally give Fiberweb the global coordination and streamlining necessary to be competitive in the challenging and evolving markets for hygiene fabrics, as well as the regional and customer focus required for success in differentiated industrial nonwovens markets, according to Mr. Dayun.
Amidst these streamlining measures, Fiberweb has also exited certain businesses that no longer make sense for it. In May, Fiberweb sold its 15% interest in Saudi German Nonwovens Products Company (SGN) to its joint venture partners Zamil Group Holding Company and Al-Rajhhi House Enterprises for a cash consideration of $7.28 million. One month earlier, the company sold its wholly-owned Brazilian subsidiary Fiberweb Bidim for £16.6 million. Bidim manufactures standard polyester nonwovens for use in geotextiles, roofing and footwear markets from a manufacturing site near Sao Paulo.
These recent divestments follow last year’s sale of Fiberweb’s consumer wipes business to Ahlstrom, which included assets in Bethune, SC, Spain and Italy, for a reported €65 million. At the time of this sale, Fiberweb officials reported that an analysis of the global wipes business revealed overcapacity in spunlace supply in Europe and the U.S. and selling it to another producer was determined to be a viable option for the business unit.
Also in 2007, Fiberweb launched a restructuring of its North American business including the closure of older productions and the consolidation of its Simpsonville, SC site into a smaller area. In June 2007, Fiberweb shut down two production lines—a narrow SMS line and a narrow spunbond line—in Washougal, WA and closed an SMMMS barrier line, a spunbond line and a portion of a pilot line in Simpsonville. These closures followed the shutdown of a Toronto facility, which includes the transfer of one line to Mexico and one to Berlin, Germany.
Fiberweb also exited two joint venture agreements—a spunbond operation in Thailand called CNC and Advanced Design Concepts, an operation dedicated to the development of stretchable nonwovens technology with Dow—and shut down an older spunbond polyester line in Gray Court, SC.
Amidst these sales and closures, one area receiving top billing for Fiberweb is airlaid with the completion of two recent investments—in China and Italy—as well as the creation of a separate business unit dedicated to the technology.
In June, Fiberweb celebrated the official commercial launch of the second airlaid line at its China-based Tianjin Teda factory in a special ceremony.
Boasting an annual capacity of 10,000 tons, the highly flexible production line produces thermal bond, multibond, latex bond and SAP nonwovens in 2100 mm widths with a 200-meter line speed. The line will target hygiene applications as well as specialty industrial uses and household products such as wipes and food packaging. Meanwhile, Fiberweb’s new airlaid line in Peregallo di Lesmo, Italy is now operational and is being integrated into the European hygiene business.
In addition to its airlaid investment, Fiberweb is upping it presence in Asia with two separate joint venture agreements in China and India made in February. In China, Fiberweb is investing $2.5 million in a 30-year joint venture with Tianjin Hengguan Nonwoven Company Limited, a Chinese spunbonded polyester manufacturer. Fiberweb will own 65% of the venture, which will benefit from Fiberweb's expertise in polyester spunbond fabrics.
In India, Fiberweb has formed a joint venture with a group of local individual investors, which will establish the first premium geotextile manufacturer in India, exploiting Fiberweb’s Terram brand of geotextiles. Under the terms of the agreement, Fiberweb will upgrade and sell its currently idled Terram line, located in Pontypool, U.K., to the joint venture and allow it to license the Terram trademark. Fiberweb will own 26% of the venture and will receive £1.35 million in cash for the line and the license. The upgraded Terram line is expected to be relocated to a new site by the first quarter of 2009.
By focusing on divesting and exiting businesses that are no longer a perfect fit to its business plan and investing and supporting areas deemed important to its future growth, Fiberweb has become a leaner, more efficient operation than it was when it separated from the BBA Group in late 2006. Moving forward, the company—which earlier this year was the subject of a potential purchase by Avgol until the Israeli nonwovens producer found it difficult to get financing for the purchase—will focus on functioning as its own entity.