Company Cameo

Top That Tabletop Technology

December 10, 2006

Rexcell Tissue & Airlaid AB—known until December 2004 as Duni Papermills— shares a long history with the Duni Group but is working hard to establish its own identity as an airlaid manufacturer.

Rexcell Tissue & Airlaid AB
666 25 Bengtsfors
Phone: 46-531-728-00
Fax: 46-531-122-83

Rexcell is owned by Duni AB, which in turn is owned by EQT, a private equity company. “Most people would equate us to Duni but we have a clear strategy and ambition to profile and position Rexcell as a stand-alone entity,” explained Anders Uttersav, vice president marketing and sales. “We can and will market Rexcell to be a company that can offer tabletop products in both airlaid and tissue plus hygiene products.”

Rexcell considers itself the first in Europe to commercialize airlaid technology and primarily targets the feminine hygiene, wipes and tabletop sectors. Its portfolio of airlaid nonwoven products represents approximately half of the company’s total sales. Rexcell’s current nonwovens capacity is about 30,000 metric tons per year, which predominantly serves European markets, where it holds close to a 20% share of the airlaid market, according to executives.

With approximately 300 employees at two sites in Sweden—Skapafors and Dals Langed—the company exports nearly all (98%) of its products. Although Mr. Uttersav would not specify the exact technology used to produce Rexcell’s airlaid nonwovens, he did reveal that its machines mainly originate from M&J Fibretech designs.

In terms of Rexcell’s view of the current state of the airlaid market, the company is enjoying a solid balance between capacity and price. “However, there are a few new lines on the way that could create an overcapacity situation similar to just a few years ago, and this will likely put more pressure on market prices,” Mr. Uttersav warned. “A few players are overbooked and a couple of the larger players still have capacity, but they will certainly put a lot of effort to return to full utilization.” Mr. Uttersav added that several players are looking for new capacity; he forecast that there will be more capacity to meet increased converting demands (e.g. for more festooned material). He went on to say that more players will move with more focus into new product segments, thereby opening up more tons in the airlaid sector in areas such as incontinence products, particularly light incontinence.

“In general terms, the airlaid market will definitely find new product segments and faster development,” opined Mr. Uttersav. “Areas such as wipes, automotive, building products and filtration are definitely part of such a strategy, and if there will be overcapacity in the years to come, as most estimate, it will also mean airlaid producers must be better in adapting and moving into new fields faster with a greater adaptation to changes. The time of double-digit months of qualification processes will still be there but they will be more and more rare. The winners will be those who can act faster and adapt into new areas.”

Looking forward, Mr. Uttersav predicts that the hygiene and tabletop airlaid segments will see faster speeds, increased demand, performance improvements and shorter product lifecycles. “We always put efforts into understanding not only general trends but also the final customer’s needs and behavior. Together with the partnerships we have, we will get a pretty good guideline for our product development efforts.”

Wrapping up, Mr. Uttersav had this to say: “Our vision is to be the preferred partner and the benchmark in Europe for demanding customers in need of high performance tissue and airlaid materials. Our mission is simple: to fulfill our customers’ needsand grow profitably.”

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