Company Cameo

Nonwovens And Then Some

April 2, 2009

Low & Bonar PLC is an internationally focused manufacturer of a range of specialized products, including nonwovens. Through its Specialist Materials division, the company delivers yarns, fabrics and flooring products to a broad range of customers.

Low & Bonar PLC
9th Floor
Marble Arch Tower
55 Bryanston Street
London, W1H 7AA

    Low & Bonar designs, converts and finishes polymers or other specialist materials into value-added products for strategically attractive niche markets. Base chemical polymers include polyethylene, polypropylene, nylon and PVC. The company shapes, colors, processes and adds components to these materials in an effort to differentiate itself from other bulk chemical converters. According to the company, its chemical raw materials typically represent no more than 30%-40% of sales value.

    By providing outstanding performance to customers, Low & Bonar plans to build a strong international marketshare position and maintain a focus on business-to-business selling and improved returns on capital. Low & Bonar’s goal is to provide related services that can generate value for the company and its customers.

    With annual sales last year of £335 million and an impressive 59% growth rate, the company described 2008 as a very significant year, encompassing unprecedented levels of strategic refocusing, raw material volatility and changes to the economic background. Looking ahead, CEO Paul Forman said that Low & Bonar plans to invest in planned organic growth initiatives and take advantage of opportunities emerging from the current market environment. “Our strategy of developing diverse product ranges for niche end markets and building leading market positions, combined with underlying growth in the technical textiles industry, give the board confidence for the medium- to long-term prospects of the group.”

    Low & Bonar’s Technical Textiles division serves specialized markets such as flooring, synthetic grass, horticulture, civil engineering, building and industrial applications on a global scale. Extrusion, spinning, fleecing, weaving and coating are core technologies of the Technical Textiles division.

    The business operates from 14 manufacturing facilities—three in Belgium (Zele, Lokeren and Ostend); two in The Netherlands (Arnhem and Emmen); three in Germany (Obernburg, Hückelhoven and Fulda), one in Scotland (Dundee), one in Hungary (Tiszaújváros), one in the Czech Republic (Lomnice), one in North America (Asheville, NC), one in Yizheng, China (60%-owned) and one in Abu Dhabi, UAE (75%-owned). Regional sales offices are located all over the world.

    Low & Bonar’s Fabric Division specializes in the production of a number of product ranges including geotextiles, agrotextiles, technical industrial, textiles and fibers for the industrial and building sectors. The customer base for the Fabrics business is global and products have found their way into construction projects such as Disney Park in Hong Kong and the Palm complex in Dubai as well applications closer to home such as industrial greenhouses in Holland. The main raw material used is polypropylene but aluminum, polyester and polyethylene are also used in some finished products.

    A well-known name in the nonwovens industry, roll goods producer Colbond was acquired by Low & Bonar in 2006. Colbond produces high-quality synthetic nonwovens for flooring, automotive and construction applications and three-dimensional polymeric mats and composites for civil engineering, building and industrial applications.

    Colbond brings the division high quality product development capabilities with a Development & Application Centre in Arnhem and a Development Laboratory in Asheville, NC to initiate and carry out development projects.               

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