NWI: Lenzing has made major environmental investments during the last 10-15 years. How have these impacted Lenzing and the perception and value of the company?
T. Fahnemann: Our investments have been imperative both to the company and to the region where we are operating. Lenzing is located in the midst of a vacation region where fresh water fishing and water sports are very important. Second, the investments have been critical to the survival of the company and become a marketing tool, meeting the demand for natural fibers. Thirdly the market for natural fibers is booming and we have been able to meet this demand in the market.
NWI: Lenzing has recently acquired several companies making plastics, diversifying into new and different segments. How does this fit the corporate strategy?
T. Fahnemann: We have doubled our sales in less than five years. However, sales of pulp and fibers are limited to organic growth. We have invested in one new viscose plant in China, we have a second plant underway and one planned in India. We need new platforms for growth and have partnered with SGL Carbon AG for the production of carbon fibers. Our fiber competencies are crossing over to other segments like plastic filaments and we are increasing the amount of applications into the health sector, technical textiles and textile architecture. Our solution at Lenzing has been successful so far in creating a successful positioning in global marketing due to strategic investments in product diversification and marketing.
NWI: You have recently become the Chairman of CIRFS, the International Rayon and Synthetics Fibers Committee (Umbrella organization for the European man-made fiber industry). Do you have any specific plans for this organization?
T. Fahnemann: We as an industry need better statistics and market analysis. We will create cooperation with other associations, EURATEX and the American Fiber Producers. As lobbying in Brussels is getting more difficult, we need to create support platforms to become more competitive as well as address the new EU members. We want to create a modern association, helping the members with issues in logistics and market intelligence. Europe must differentiate to meet the future demand and competition and make a win-win situation for all partners, whether it is Europe or China. Furthermore, the increase in fashion trends increases the use of textiles.