2011 Nonwovens Sales: $118 million
Key Personnel: C.S. Huang, chairman; H.S Huang, president; M.Yang, vice-president; Sam Chang vice-president; Paul Cheng, general manager; Bernard Kerstens, commercial director (overseas business)
Plants: Kaoshing, Taiwan; Pinghu, China
Processes: Spunlace, thermal bond, air-through bond, needlepunch
Major Markets: Hygiene, medical, wipes
Since 1978, Nan Liu Enterprise, Kaoshing, Taiwan, has been serving a number of hygiene markets. As it debuts on Nonwovens Industry’s top company report at number 38, Nan Liu recently announced plans to become a publicly traded company by early next year.
Nan Liu’s core businesses are hygiene and medical nonwovens and cosmetics. To continue its growth in these segments, Nan Liu has recently begun construction on a 6.2-meter wide spunlace line that it says will be the widest in the world. “This jumbo line will meet the rapidly increasing demand for wet wipes in China and other areas of Asia but also strengthens the company’s position on the worldwide market,” says Bernard Kerstens, commercial director (overseas business). The company expects production from this line to begin the third quarter of 2013. It will be located in Pinghu, China—near Shanghai—where the company already operates a 4.5-meter wide spunlace line.
Kerstens says this investment responds to strong growth in East Asia, particularly China, where wet wipes have seen an annual growth rate of approximately 20% in the last five years. “We expect that the rapid growth rate in China would continue for the next five years in view of the continued increase in personal income,” he says. “Moreover, increasingly people realize the convenience of using wet wipes. This is also true for many other spunlace applications.”
The new line will bring Nan Liu’s spunlace capacity to 28,000 tons. Present chairman C.S. Huang established Nan Liu at Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan in 1978. The company originally sold standard household goods but soon began making coverstock materials for diapers and sanitary napkins. After adding its first two nonwoven lines, the company’s operation accelerated. In 1985 the company passed the requirements of the Japanese Food Sanitation law, opening a door for exports to Japan, Southeast Asia and gradually the rest of the world.
Other nonwoven lines followed (thermal bond and needlepunch); in 2000 Nan Liu bought its first spunlace line, as well as wet wipe converting equipment. A second location housing nonwovens production was opened near Kaoshiung and a large cleanroom workshop was installed for the development and manufacture of cosmetic facial masks, cream and liquids. Combining its spunlace know-how with biotechnology, Nan Liu began making cosmetic facial masks and cosmetic remover wipes. The company registered the brand name SilkSoft used for its cosmetic and nonwoven fabrics.
“In the domestic Taiwan and mainland China markets, Na Liu now holds an important position in baby wipes and cosmetic facial masks products. Both in these markets and internationally it has become a major converter of finished wet wipes as well as one of the largest Asian producers of spunlace roll stock.
In 2005, Nan Liu embarked on its first foreign investment in Pinghu, China. With a total investment of nearly $40 million including new thermal bond/air-through bonding and spunlace lines as well as wet wipe converting equipment and a 4,500 square meter biotechnology workshop.
“The existing spunlace line at Pinghu is the widest one in Asia with 4.5 meter width,” says Kerstens. “Built primarily to produce low-linting woodpulp/polyester spunlace, it is geared to the needs of producers of surgical gowns and drapes as well as producers of low-lint industrial wipes.”
Nan Liu claims to be the first Asian producer to offer spunlace fabric that allows producers of surgical garments to meet European and U.S. standards simultaneously (EN 13795, AAMI-2), adhering to manufacturing practices and cleanliness needed in the hygiene, medical and cosmetic fields.
Looking forward, Nan Liu hopes to expand its reach into India and Russia as a publicly traded company in Taiwan. The company announced last month it expects to go public next year, a move that will help it improve its global profile.
“By becoming a publicly traded company in Taiwan, we will feel that we have a higher duty, more responsibility and more pressure to perform better,” Kerstens says. “It should make it even more attractive for excellent people to join us. Secondly, financially, we feel we could attract more investors, get more support and get access to cheaper investment means from the financial world—higher profits and new major investments being the main objectives.”