Location: HOF/SAALE, GERMANY
Sales: $98 Million
Description: Key Personnel
Harald Stini, managing director; Detlev Käppel, managing director—Techtex and Global sales director eswegee, technical nonwovens; Lothar Hackler, president—Hof Textiles, Inc.
Hof/Saale, Germany; Reichenbach, Germany; Mittweida, Germany; Lincolnton, NC
ISO 9001, ISO 14001, VDA 6.1
Drylaid, thermal bonded, needlepunched, saturate bonded, stitchbonded, spunlace
Variopoint, Unipoint, Unisoft, Zetafelt, Zetastitch, Zetafil, Zetawatt, Florbond, Zetabond, Zetajet, Zetatherm, Zetamold, Maliwatt, Malivlies, Kunit, Multiknit eswegee 2000 series, Bassopoint Major Markets Acoustics, automotive, filtration, roofing, industrial, interlinings
With sales holding steady at $98 million in 2008, Textilgruppe Hof´s nonwoven division held strong this year as both the technical nonwovens and interlinings product groups coped with difficult market conditions brought on by the global economic crisis. Due to a solid business environment throughout the first three quarters of last year, the company was far above budget but faced a serious downturn in the last quarter of 2008. “The drop in revenue was exacerbated by customers’ attempts to reduce inventory levels to almost zero for the remaining months of the year, which led to even fewer orders,” explained managing director Harald Stini and Detlev Käppel, global sales director of eswegee and managing director of Techtex. The silver lining in the cloud for Hof has been an end to the hype over increasing raw material prices, which seem to have leveled off for the time being.
Despite ongoing uncertainty in the global economy, eswegee has taken advantage of its long-term relationships with customers such as Tier1 and OEMs with which it has been working on various new projects for the future. The question remains how the financial crisis will affect its customer base, including the OEMs, moving forward.
Overall, Hof´s industrial business is still growing and due to massive past investments, the company considers itself well prepared for the future. Hof’s new plant in Reichenbach, Germany was not affected by the economic downturn and is currently operating at nearly full capacity. Helping to spur this growth are newly developed product groups for automotive and other market segments.
For automotive end uses, Hof has developed a new generation of lightweight acoustic nonwovens to help customers reduce total weight and improve acoustic properties of the final parts. New styles for injection molding, automotive underbody shields, wheel arch liners, trunk trim and package trays were also developed. “All nonwovens can be treated online with a new finishing technology to meet the stringent regulations for flame retardancy such as PV 3357 from VW or UL 94 for Japanese OEMs,” commented Ms. Käppel.
In the area of roofing, other new products have been developed with high MD/CD tensile strength, high water vapor permeability and high temperature stability to enhance overall performance of the final composite.
When it comes to stitchbonding, Hof’s four stitchbonded technologies (Malivlies, Maliwatt, Kunit and Multiknit), make it a market leader in terms of product diversity and individual “tailor-made” solutions. At its stitchbonded plant in Mittweida, Hof enjoyed three very strong quarters in 2008 but saw a slowdown in the last three months of the year. “Overall, we still managed to achieve a respectable growth in sales compared to last year,” Mr. Käppel said. “Our investments to further expand capacity for specific product groups helped us reduce costs and offer enhanced quality to our customers.” He added that despite the currently difficult economical environment, the company plans to expand and upgrade capacity in 2009.
While its interlinings business was off to a good start in the first six months of 2008, business declined in the second half, reflecting the overall consumer climate in the garment industry and the ongoing strength of imports for “ready-made” garments from Asia to Europe. “We also expect 2009 to be a very difficult market environment,” reported Dr. Stini. He pointed to production overcapacities for interlinings on the supply side and a still-shrinking customer base for such products in central Europe.
As for Hof Textiles, the company has seen another year of growing sales for technical nonwovens, especially for automotive applications. As other suppliers exited the market, Hof was able to grow marketshare in North America and make numerous investments in new technology and capacity to fuel innovation and growth in the North American automotive industry. “New, innovative products and continued investments, together with our excellent customer service and technical expertise, supported significant ongoing growth in sales and marketshare in 2008,” stated Lothar Hackler, president of Hof Textiles.
Progress also continued in 2008 in India where Textilgruppe Hof owns a 45% share of a joint venture with Supreme Nonwoven Industries. All market segments—filtration, automotive and interlinings—showed upward trends throughout most of the year. Fortunately, the business was only slightly impacted by global financial troubles, a situation that mirrors the overall economy in India. “Our joint venture remained fairly robust due to the somewhat closed economy in India with relatively few exports to other regions of the world,” Dr. Stini said.