2011 Nonwovens Sales: $1.25 billion
Partnership Products and K-C Professional Headquarters
Key Personnel: Thomas Falk, chairman and CEO; Elane B. Stock, president, K-C Professional; Richard Thorne, vice president, K-C Professional North America; Bob Stargel, vice president, K-C Global Nonwovens, Tony Fedel, associate director, K-C Professional Partnership Products
Plants: Corinth, MS; Balfour and Hendersonville, NC; Lexington, NC; LaGrange, GA; Neenah, WI; Barton-upon-Humber, U.K.; Jaromer, Czech Republic
ISO Status: Certification achieved in Berkeley, NC, Lexington, NC, LaGrange, GA, and Barton (U.K.); other facilities in progress
Processes: Spunbond, meltblown, SMS, BCW, hydroentangled, film lamination, elastic lamination and Coform
Brands: Kimberly-Clark Professional; Protective Fabrics: Block-It, Dustop, Evolution, and Noah; Filtration Media: Intrepid, Powerloft, Cyclean
Major Markets: Filtration, acoustics, consumer hygiene, industrial, medical, packaging, protective, sorbents, textile linings and wet wipes
One of the world’s largest users of nonwovens, Kimberly-Clark’s output largely fuels its absorbent products consumer business where it markets some of the biggest brands in the world, including Huggies diapers and wipes, Kotex feminine hygiene items and Depend adult incontinence care products. To serve this business, the Dallas, TX-based company uses nonwovens sourced both internally and externally, but the company also sells nonwoven roll goods in segments including filtration, sorbents and wipes, according to executives, and this segment of its business continues to be an important growth driver.
“Globally, K-Cers come to work every day striving to achieve the corporate vision to lead the world in essentials for a better life,” says Tony Fedel, associate director, Kimberly-Clark Professional Partnership Products.
“When a company and its people are driven by such a clear and noble purpose, every business unit is empowered to deliver on that promise. Ultimately, we view it as a differentiator and competitive strength within the nonwovens industry that allows us to work closely with our customers, helping them achieve their goals and grow their businesses. Our customers get the same product performance people associate with Kimberly-Clark overall, which makes our offerings ideal for other branded product marketers.”
Partnership Products is a unique K-C business unit, managed within K-C Professional, in that it markets and sells K-C nonwoven materials externally to other branded and contract manufacturers across both the B2C and B2B spaces.
“We do see opportunities for growth in most of the segments we serve with our innovative, value-added products,” Fedel says. “Partnership Products does not focus on commodity-type products or opportunities. Instead, we focus our attention on markets where we can provide differentiated technology and performance and where we can become a strategic, long-term partner with our customers. As an example, consider Kimberly-Clark’s meltblown technology. K-C’s nonwovens research and engineering know-how, product development capabilities and machine capabilities deliver best-in-class meltblown material performance properties. Our filtration media product is another good example of our high performance technology, this time with electret-treated bicomponent spunbond materials that we can manufacture at varying levels of thickness, as needed, to improve dust holding capacity as well as meet various filtration efficiency levels with low initial pressure drop. “
In 2011, sales increased 6% corporate-wide for Kimberly-Clark, reaching $20.8 billion. Executives credited higher net selling prices as well as increased sales volumes for the increase. Meanwhile, personal care sales increased from $8.6 billion to $9.1 billion despite lower sales of Huggies and Pull-Ups in North America. Bright spots for the year included product innovation in the Poise, Depend and U by Kotex brands, currency benefits coming out of Europe, as well as strong growth in South Korea, China and Latin America (except for Venezuela).
In recent months, K-C has shown its commitment to broad-based growth through a series of new product introductions in a number of areas.
Just this summer, the Pull-Ups brand revealed new, glow-in-the-dark designs in its Pull-Ups NightTime disposable training pants. The designs, featuring Disney’s Cinderella and Mater and Lightning McQueen from the Cars movies, help parents start a new nighttime routine to make potty training consistent, easier and fun.
Also in baby care, K-C has continued its tradition of seasonally appropriate, limited edition designer diapers with Hawaiian-themed and Camouflage diapers and formed a licensing agreement with Marvel comics for its GoodNites disposable underwear.
Also in the GoodNites brand, K-C this year introduced Bed Mats, ultra-absorbent, cloth-like, disposable mats that provide nighttime security against bedwetting. GoodNites Bed Mats feature adhesive strips to adhere to the top of a child’s fitted sheet and help the product stay in place all night long.
“As a trusted leader and expert, GoodNites brand understands the challenges of millions of parents and children who are dealing with bedwetting,” says Dave Caputo, senior brand manager, GoodNites. “GoodNites Bed Mats is a new bedwetting protection choice that offers outstanding absorption in a cloth-like mat, helping give families a better night’s sleep.”
Within its feminine care line, K-C is getting ready to launch a first-of-its-kind line designed specifically with menopausal women in mind. The Poise Feminine Wellness line—designed specifically with menopausal women in mind—represents the Poise brand’s expansion into the feminine wellness category in the U.S. and Canada, following the recent successful rollout of these products in parts of Latin America.
The Poise Feminine Wellness line includes five products—including roll-on cooling gel and body cooling towelettes, a personal lubricant and panty fresheners—designed to work naturally with a woman’s body during menopause to provide comfort and help her feel feminine and confident throughout the day.
“Fifty million women across North America are approaching or experiencing menopause, but until now there has been no suite of consumer products that helps them cope on a daily basis,” says Rebecca Dunphey, Poise brand director at Kimberly-Clark. “The Poise Feminine Wellness line is specifically designed to help women approach this life stage with confidence. These products are a natural extension for the Poise brand, which millions of women already rely on for discrete protection from light bladder leakage. “Poise Feminine Wellness products were initially launched in Chile in 2009 and were subsequently introduced in Colombia, and helped the Poise brand grow in that region.
For younger women, K-C continues to be successful with its U by Kotex line of feminine hygiene items, which was introduced in 2010 to drive penetration for the Kotex brand and category growth in general. In its first year in the North American market, this Kotex sub-brand achieved more than four points of marketshare, quickly becoming one of K-C’s fastest growing brands and helping drive consumer interest and growth in a relatively flat category. Most recently, the IRI Symphony Group named U by Kotex the number three non-food pacesetter for 2011, generating approximately $75 million in first-year retail sales.
In 2012, K-C built off this success with the national launch of new U by Kotex Sleek tampons and new U by Kotex CleanWear pads. U by Kotex Sleek Tampons feature a first-of-its-kind “Perfect Touch Grip” applicator that is soft, smooth and slim to provide an easy hold for “just right” placement. The new U by Kotex CleanWear Pad features a revolutionary MemoryFlex core that keeps its shape and fits closely with a woman’s curves, improving flexibility. Both innovations provide women with exceptional protection and comfort and establish a new level of performance.
“U by Kotex challenges accepted norms by delivering premium products that combine innovative design, outstanding performance and a bold, straight-talking approach to marketing that is changing the conversation around feminine care,” says Claire Miller, marketing director for Kotex. “New U by Kotex Sleek tampons and U by Kotex CleanWear pads are the latest step in our ongoing mission to break through the sea of sameness in the category, accelerate sales and continue to build the Kotex brand into a powerhouse.”
In 2012, the Kotex brand achieved a significant milestone, joining other K-C brands like Huggies, Kleenex and Scott, by becoming a billion-dollar brand. Executives said this status was achieved after two years of growth by the brand.
In addition to new product development, K-C has invested considerable resources in upping its sustainability efforts during the past several years. Recently, the company received an A+ rating from Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) on its 2011 Corporate Sustainability Report, which highlights the company’s progress towards its Sustainability 2015 goals.
“Receiving the A+ GRI rating is a testament to the commitment that our leaders and our employees have to sustainability across our entire value chain involving every function, brand and business at K-C,” says Peggy Ward, director, Sustainability Strategy, at Kimberly-Clark. “While we are proud of our 2011 progress and the quality level of our sustainability report, we recognize that sustainability is a journey that we will never complete.”
The 2011 Sustainability Report was released in May 2012 and is K-C’s ninth such annual report. The report is structured around the company’s Sustainability 2015 strategy framework of People, Planet and Products introduced last year. The new framework represents K-C’s most ambitious and comprehensive sustainability strategy to date and embodies the company’s commitment to weaving a sustainable business practice and mindset into every facet of the organization as an integral part of its Global Business Plan.
In order to secure the A+ rating, Kimberly-Clark fulfilled all 79 indicators established by GRI under the headings of Economic Performance, Labor Practices, Human Rights, Environmental Practices, Society Performance and Product Responsibilities. Some of the key highlights of K-C’s activities captured in the report include: sourcing 99.9% of its fiber from suppliers certified by sustainable forestry practices; generating 13% of 2011 net sales from environmentally innovative products; accomplishing its goal of zero workplace fatalities; communicating its Supplier Social Compliance Standards to all of its key suppliers; extending the Huggies brand Every Little Bottom campaign in the U.S. to assist moms who struggle to provide their babies clean disposable diapers; and expanding the Huggies diaper composting initiatives by opening a second K-C-sponsored recycling plant in New Zealand.