Leader of the Pack

By Karen McIntyre | October 19, 2009

After two straight quarters of declines, Procter & Gamble expects its business to turn a profit for the final quarter of the year, or so said the company last month at a Boston conference. The announcement soon after helped propel the company's stock prices and more importantly restored some much needed confidence in the consumer goods market. Of course, some of the measures responsible for the optimism—like price cuts—are direct results of the recession, but, others, like overseas expansion, hint at a bright future for the multinational company.

P&G said it expects organic sales growth of 1-4% for the October-to-December quarter; sales were negative during the past two quarters. According to CEO Bob McDonald, "We added with urgency to protect the structural economics of our business last year, and we are acting with urgency this year to deliver profitable market share growth."

In the 12 months since the economic crisis became serious, companies have spent a lot of time making sure they will be ready to grow once the recession is over. These efforts have come in the form of plant consolidations, staffing reductions, exiting existing markets and even expansion in selected areas. Luckily for nonwovens, many of the key markets—like diapers or feminine hygiene items—are considered defensive markets, meaning that they are able to hold up well during economic downturns because consumers consider them necessities; however, there are still some markets, namely those that are manufacturing-based like automotives, that have been hit hard by economic woes.

Now as certain news outlets are reporting an end to the recession and predicting happier times ahead, it will be interesting to see where the pieces will fall within nonwovens. Will the same leaders remain or will news ones—perhaps those we never would have considered nonwovens powerhouses—emerge as the top companies in the industry?

Speaking of top companies, this month Nonwovens Industry once again brings you our special Chinese Nonwovens section, where we highlight some of our key advertisers' activities in China. Beginning after page 54, this special section also includes a comprehensive market report on the Chinese nonwovens industry, which is gaining in importance to the global picture every year.

Also this month, we take a look at a couple of key nonwovens areas. On page 24 begins our look at the industrial wipes market. Find out how suppliers of industrial wipers are handling reduced manufacturing environments. Associate editor Sandra Levy looks at what's next for airlaid nonwovens as new capacity comes onstream and manufacturers cautiously move forward.

It seems that moving ahead with caution is a common theme in today's business environment. How is your company coping?

Karen McIntyre

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