Location: London, U.K.
Sales: $162 million
Description: Key Personnel
Joe Menendez, Vita Group CEO; Wim Warnier, Vita Nonwovens, CEO
Belgium, France, Sweden, U.S.
Drylaid, chemical bonded, drylaid thermal bonded, needlefelt, through air bonded, impregnation
Sales were marginally lower for nonwovens producer Vita Group. The U.K.-based company, which has plants in the U.S., France, Belgium and Sweden, reported that sales dropped 4.7% to $162 million for the year, which was considered good news amidst a global economic downturn.
Company spokeswoman Alison Vesey said Vita was able to manage the economic downturn through its strong market diversity. While some of its businesses—namely automotives and construction—suffered, others—like healthcare—performed well in 2009.
“Our healthcare markets of hygiene and medical products remain robust during the economic crisis,” Ms. Vesey said. “In line with overall trends, our automotive business has recovered somewhat but remains weak compared to 2007 levels. Construction markets continue to be very slow for new builds, while building on renovation and improvement projects is holding. Demand for our filtration products has recovered somewhat and we are starting to see growth.”
While even the hard-hit businesses saw some recovery late in 2009, some of this recovery is seen as the result of government intervention programs and not considered certain. “Our view is that the outlook remains uncertain with a lack of medium-term visibility therefore measures such as cost control, restructuring and innovation remain the drivers for value protection and value creation in our business,” Ms. Vesey said.
Vita Nonwovens continues to operate three facilities in North America—Fort Wayne, IN, San Antonio, TX and High Point, NC, which are all running well. Business here received a boost last year when a new production line was added to allow the company to diversify from bedding and furniture into automotives and building and construction. While North America continues to be considered fragile, Vita considers this market, particularly furniture and bedding, a core market to its operation and has strengthened its position there through innovation, supply chain excellence and improved quality management and processes.
Meanwhile, in Europe, Vita Group continues to operate sites in France, Belgium and Sweden through its Libeltex subsidiary, which serves novelty healthcare applications and focuses on innovative product development in hygiene, filtration and furniture and building and construction. The group closed its U.K. sites a few years ago to focus on North America and Europe.
“Having a presence on both sides of the Atlantic gives us a global perspective,” Ms. Vesey said. “The Middle East and North Africa region shows some growth potential. Additionally, we are studying some Asian Pacific opportunities. We believe there is untapped potential within our current product-market propositions and we will explore these further to support our strategy for value leadership.”