2012 Nonwoven Sales: $400 million
Key Personnel: Warnier Wim, CEO; Ortmeier Jörg, COO
Plants: Germany, France, Belgium, Sweden, China
Processes: Air through bonded, chemical bonded, needlepunch, hydro entangled (spunlace)
Major markets: Hygiene, medical, automotive, filtration, building and construction, cleaning wipes, bedding and furniture, apparel
The big news from the TWE Group this year is the company’s acquisition of the Libeltex business formerly owned by the Vita Group. In September 2012, the German company purchased the group, including its plants in France, Belgium and Sweden, to help expand its footprint in the European nonwovens market.
“The integration of Libeltex has been seamless,” says CEO Wim Warnier. “It’s been a good cultural fi t. Both companies were active in mostly the same types of markets but we complemented each other geographically. We actually created the business unit structure, which helped us to integrate management teams.”
These seven teams, including hygiene, medical, automotives, filtration, building and construction, cleaning wipes and comfort (bedding, furniture and apparel), decide on market product focuses independently of where they are produced.
The Libeltex acquisition also expanded TWE’s scope. Before Libeltex, TWE, with four sites in Germany and one in China, was heavily focused on Germany and Asia, whereas Libeltex expanded the focus into France, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.
“We saw the Libeltex purchase as a way to become a truly international player in the nonwovens industry,” Warnier says.
Meanwhile, the group’s operation in Hangzhou, China continues to perform well, largely reporting 7-8% market growth. Currently active in hygiene, medical and automotive markets in China, the company has been investing in new machines and technologies since establishing the operation in 2007 and the company plans to decide on investment elsewhere in Asia.
About half of the group’s sales are now conducted within the hygiene market where the company is a leading manufacturer of acquisition and distribution layer materials for baby diapers, feminine hygiene items and adult incontinence products.
“The advantage we have is that we have some innovations that lead clear trends in the market,” Warnier says. “The market is looking for thinner diapers and better performing feminine care and adult incontinence products as well as softer top and backsheets.”
The company’s Slimcore product, developed by Libeltex and introduced in 2012, is becoming more standard in core materials that go into baby diaper. The through-air bonded ADL material features a multi layer that can be used in any fluff versus superabsorbent polymer ratio.
Also strong on TWE’s radar is automotives, which represents about 15% of turnover. Here, the group sees a lot of potential as nonwovens continue to replace materials in more parts of the car. TWE is able to offer OEMs many products on a global scale.