$79 million (€63 million)
Key ContactsGianni Boscolo, president; Carlo Soave, CEO; Pietro Landone, commercial director
PlantsRoasio, Italy; Aschersleben, Germany, Cincinnati, OH
ProcessesCarded thermal bonded, spunmelt, carded resinbonded, carded ATB
Established in 1995 as a maker of thermal bonded nonwovens for hygiene applications, Albis, based in Roasio, Italy, has grown quickly during the past decade with total group sales reaching €63 million in 2005, according to commercial director Pietro Landone. With its roots in carded thermal bonded production, Albis has followed changes in the hygiene industry in recent years, converting a portion of its operation to meet its needs.
After its establishment in 1995 with a 4 -meter-wide carded thermal bonded line in Roasio, Albis’ growth was so rapid it constructed a second thermal bond line at its German facility, called Ascania, in 1998 and added a second line there in 1999. In 2000, Albis set up a five-meter carded line in Italy, a then, new-to-the-world technology called CMC (carded-meltblowncarded), bringing its total number of lines to four. In 2001, the company diversified into polypropylene fiber production with the establishment of Arborea in Germany. Fibers made through this subsidiary fueled the German plant’s needs.
By 2003, Albis was the largest worldwide producer of carded thermal bonded nonwovens with an estimated 30,000 tons of available capacity but at the same time the global hygiene business was lessening its reliance on thermal bonded nonwovens and becoming more reliant on the use of spunbond.
It was this conversion that encouraged Albis, in 2004, to reconfigure one of its Italian lines to make air through bonded resin bonded material and add Ason Neumag AST bicomponent spunbond technology to the other line to make spunbond nonwovens.
“The second carded line in Italy was already five meters wide so it was structured well for the new spunbond technology,” Mr. Landone said. “It was already a carded/meltblown/carded line, so we kept the existing meltblown beam on it.”
With about 95% of its business centered on the hygiene market, Albis has worked hard to diversify itself in a market known for its commodities. “The fact that we have invested in Ason Neumag technology shows that we want to stand out in the hygiene market,” said Mr. Landone. “We did not invest in the same machinery everyone else is and we are not selling the same material as everyone else. This technology allows us to offer customers something different. In a world where standardization of technology is becoming increasingly prevalent, it was important for Albis to differentiate and allow our technical skills to express themselves.”
Despite the challenges being posed in hygiene such as competition and pricing pressures, Mr. Landone said its size alone makes hygiene an attractive market to be in. “Hygiene is challenging but it’s the largest market for nonwovens and it’s a market where technology and quality are very important,” he said. “When you think of its size, just 1% growth can mean a big return.”
Albis targets hygiene markets throughout Europe, North America and the Middle East and continues to expand its operations and product range. It has recently acquired, for example, an elastic yarn business for the hygiene market. Its latest venture, this time in the U.S., is a joint partnership called Amantea Nonwovens and based in Cincinnati.
As for Albis’ wholly-owned business, Mr. Landone said that additional investment is not far off but refused to elaborate. “Our next site will be mostly dedicated to hygiene but it might allow for opportunities outside of hygiene,” he said. “This will be our vision in the next three to five years. Hygiene will continue to be the most important business for us.
“The strategy we have is pretty clear,” he continued. “We need to base our future on technological innovation, offering our customers and their customers—wherever they may be—the best value for their money.”