Despite concerns over market maturity and pricing pressures in many key markets for nonwovens, this year’s annual Top Company report proves that this market remains in growth mode. Most of the 40 companies profiled in this special edition reported growth—in both sales and earnings—in 2006 compared to the prior year. And, this growth is not only being felt in sales figures but also in new market penetration, new technologies and new investment. New advancements such as PGI’s introduction of new Spinlace technology geared at the wipes market, DuPont’s new Hybrid Membrane Technology, initially targeting filtration applications, as well as acquisitions like Ahlstrom’s purchase of Fiberweb’s wipes business prove, once again, that the nonwovens industry is moving forward. Adding momentum are investments such as new spunmelt lines from Avgol, Companhia Providencia and others and proprietary technology being constructed by nonwovens producers such as Albis, Precision Custom Coatings and Freudenberg.
On a major growth spurt is Avgol Nonwovens. The Israeli producer is ranked 11 this year, compared to 18 last year and 29 five years ago. This chart climbing can be entirely attributed to Avgol’s aggressive spunmelt expansion initiatives including three lines in North America, a joint venture in China and, most recently, a new line in Russia. In five years, the company’s sales have exploded from $75 million to more than $229 million.
Another spunmelt specialist making gains is Danish Fibertex, who has seen its rank climb from 27 in 2002 to 12 this year, thanks to sales growth from $78 million five years ago to $222 million. Fibertex has new lines in Malaysia and Denmark as well as Eastern European investment to thank for this impressive growth pattern. It won’t be long before one of these ambitious companies cracks the Top 10 largest nonwovens producers in the world!
Every year, we like to stress that the International Top 40 is a ranking of companies based on sales figures often provided by the company and other times estimated based on industry statistics. Therefore, Nonwovens Industry maintains that the company ranking is more of an industry guideline than an audited report. The report should instead be valued for the information contained within the profiles, including comments and observations from some of the most important executives within the nonwovens industry.