Nonwovens Industry
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Fibertex Nonwovens


Aalborg, Denmark
www.fibertex.com
2011 Nonwovens Sales: $126 million

Key Personnel: Jørgen Bech Madsen, CEO; Henrik Kjeldsen, CCO; Lars Bertelsen, COO; Henrik Eigenbrod, CFO; Keld Lauridsen, group R&D manager; Bjarne Knudsen, CEO, Czech Republic

Plants: Denmark, the Czech Republic, France and South Africa

Processes: Needlepunch, spunlace, impregnation, coating and a range of finishing technologies

Major Markets: Acoustics, automotive, bedding, composites, construction, filtration, flooring, furniture, geotextiles, home and garden, horticulture

Fibertex Nonwovens was separated from Fibertex Personal Care in 2011 so that the two businesses, which had become very different over time, could operate independently in their key markets. “The separation enabled each company to focus on and communicate its strengths and values to the market,” says Jørgen Bech Madsen, CEO, Fibertex Nonwovens. “The transition has progressed as scheduled and well.”

Today, Fibertex Nonwovens manufactures nonwovens for many different product applications. Global business segments include: automotive (insulation of engine compartments, car ceilings, door panels, trim panels and acoustic solutions); construction (geotextiles, building and composite materials, as well as do-it-yourself products); industrial (furniture, bedding, carpets and flooring and the med-tech industry); filtration (air, liquid and odor filters) and acoustics; wipes (wet wipes for the consumer market and specialist products for the industrial market).

The company has a strong position in a number of areas with significant growth perspectives, Madsen notes. “Apart from the considerable growth in global demand for products for the automotive industry, we expect to see a range of major infrastructure projects and construction works take large amounts of geotextiles in the coming years both in Europe and in the global growth markets.”

Fibertex Nonwovens generated revenue of DKK 726 million in 2011, compared to DKK 413 million in 2010. The improvement was mainly due to the acquisition of French nonwovens manufacturer Tharreau Industries, which specializes in developing products for the automotive industry and for industrial applications.

Tharreau contributed DKK 260 million to consolidated revenue from the date of takeover in May, according to the 2011 annual report for Fibertex Nonwoven’s parent company Schow & Co. Tharreau has been renamed Fibertex Nonwovens S.A.

The acquisition has not only strengthened Fibertex Nonwovens A/S but also generated substantial synergies for both companies, according to Madsen. “The objective of the acquisition of Tharreau Industries was to accelerate the strategic development of Fibertex Nonwovens to become a European market leader and create a strong platform for geographical growth. Since the acquisition we have focused on the integration of Fibertex Nonwovens S.A. in Fibertex Nonwovens A/S. Today, Fibertex Nonwovens has 98.8% of the shares in Fibertex Nonwovens S.A.”

In terms of the company’s strategic direction for the future, Fibertex Nonwovens intends to become the leading, globally positioned supplier of nonwovens with value added and cost-effective solutions to the automotive industry, industrial end uses, construction and composites industry, filtration, specialty wipes and medical end uses, says Madsen.

Other goals include increasing profitability and earning power through innovative solutions, technological leadership and, as a benchmark supplier, having strong value proposition to deliver solutions at competitive costs throughout the value chain.

Meanwhile, Madsen notes the importance of supporting his company’s customers’ geographical expansion in growth markets, and will aim to deliver sustainable and profitable global growth through a robust business platform. An example of this is the company’s recent expansion into South Africa where it will make needlepunch nonwovens for geotextile and automotive applications.

According to the 2011 annual report, Fibertex Nonwovens has focused its efforts on adapting to the current competitive market situation. “The company has supported these efforts by increasingly working the markets, winning marketshare in its core business areas while also improving the sale of products for the composite industry and of specialist high-value products.”

The company has also identified a number of new business opportunities for 2012. “In terms of R&D and innovation, the company has built a strong product portfolio supporting the long-term strategy of increasing the proportion of high-value products.” At the time of its annual report, Fibertex Nonwovens expected to generate revenue of around DKK 900 million. 
Aalborg, Denmark
www.fibertex.com
2012 Nonwovens Sales: $161 million
 
Key Personnel: Jorgen Bech Madsen, CEO, Henrik Kjeldsen, CCO, Lars Bertelsen, COO, Henrik Eigenbrod, CFO, Keld Lauridsen, group R&D manager, Bjarne Knudsen, CEO, Czech Republic
 
Plants: Denmark, the Czech Republic, France and South Africa
 
Processes: Needlepunch, spunlace, impregnation, coating and a range of finishing technologies
 
Major Markets: Acoustics, automotive, bedding, composites, construction, filtration, flooring, furniture, geotextiles, home and garden, horticulture
 
Sales at Fibertex Nonwovens received a boost in 2012 due to the acquisition of French Tharreau Industries in May 2011 as well as a generally higher level of business activity across all of its business for much of the year.
 
Including the Tharreau business, which is now known as Fibertex Nonwovens S.A., Fibertex, based in Aalborg, Denmark, has operations in Denmark, the Czech Republic, France and South Africa and serves industrial markets like automotives, construction, filtration and geotextiles. The company was created in 2011 when it split from sister company, Fibertex Personal Care.
 
In the past couple of years, Fibertex Nonwovens has focused on broadening its global footprint. “We try to go where we see the right opportunities for growth,” says Jorgen Bech Madsen, CEO. “And from there we adapt to competitive market situations.”
 
The acquisition of Tharreau Industries reportedly generated substantial synergies for both companies and has helped accelerate Fibertex Nonwovens’ strategy of becoming a European market leader. The operation contains needlepunch and spunlaced nonwovens located in Chemille, France.
 
Fibertex Nonwovens has also looked to South Africa for growth. In January 2010, the company announced it had started a state-of-the-art needlepunch line in South Africa. The facility makes and markets needlepunch nonwovens, primarily geotextiles, for road construction as well as products for the growing South African automotives industry.
 
Since the site’s establishment, most of Fibertex’s efforts there have focused on building production and positioning the company in the marketplace. Demand has been ramping up, however, more recently, driven by a large number of infrastructure projects in South Africa and its neighboring countries. Also helping to boost his operation is the acquisition of the distributor Geotextil Africa in late 2012. This move is expected to boost both revenue and earnings in 2013.
 
In addition to operations in France and South America, Fibertex Nonwovens operates a sizable needlepunch center at its headquarters in Aalaborg, Denmark. In recent years, efforts have focused on modernizing these operations to increase both productivity and efficiency. The company also operates a Czech Republic operation, which was acquired from Vigona in 2008.
 
Key markets for Fibertex Nonwovens include automotives, construction, industrial, filtration and wipes. Throughout all of these markets, Fibertex has been focusing on increasing its earnings potential and improving the ratio between the price it pays for raw materials and the price it fetches for its products.
 
“We truly have improved out place in the European market,” Bech says. “We are improving our earnings and we are passing through out raw material prices. We have a strong portfolio of products and we are working on growing sales in our more value added areas.”
Aalborg, Denmark
www.fibertex.com
2013 Nonwovens Sales: $166 million

Key Personnel
Jorgen Bech Madsen, CEO; Henrik Kjeldsen CCO; Lars Bertelsen, COO; Henrik Eigenbrod, CFO; Keld Lauridsen, Group R&D Manager; Bjarne Knudsen, CEO, Czech Republic

Plants
Denmark, Czech Republic, France, South Africa

Processes
Needlepunch, spunlace, impregnation, coating and a range of finishing technologies

Major Markets
Acoustics, automotive, bedding, building industry, composites, construction, filtration, flooring, furniture, geotextiles, home and garden, horticulture, wipes

Describing the first half of 2013 as slow with a hard European winter impacting construction and a weak automotives market, executives at Fibertex Nonwovens reported a reverse in conditions during the second half of 2013 and into 2014. For the full year, sales increased 3.5% to DKK 901 million ($166 mn) while earnings improved from $5 million to DKK$6.6 million (~$1.2mn) due to improvements in its core business and a sharper focus on customized value-added products.

“There is a combination of factors influencing our growth,” says CEO Jorgen Bech Madsen. “Partly it was better demand, but we have improved our competitive position with new products and advanced solutions.”

Also impacting the company’s performance was a company-wide improvement program that modernized and expanded production platforms, giving Fibertex Nonwovens competitive strength. This five-year investment plan covers improvements at all of Fibertex Nonwovens’ global sites and could even feature some yet-to-be-announced major enhancements, according to executives.

With its focus on five core markets—automotives, construction, industrial, filtration and wipes—Fibertex Nonwovens has plants in Denmark, the Czech Republic, France and South Africa. It was created in 2011 when it split from its sister company, Fibertex Personal Care.

In recent years, the company has relied on acquisition and investment for growth. This strategy seems to have worked. The company has more than doubled its sales (from $73 million) since 2009 and expects sales to continue their upward trend.

In acquisition news, Fibertex Nonwovens purchased Tharreau Industries in May 2011. This French manufacturer, now known as Fibertex Nonwovens S.A.S., generated substantial synergies for both companies and has helped accelerate the company’s strategy of becoming a European market leader. The operation contains needlepunch and spunlace operations in Chemillé, France. In 2013, sales from this French facility represented nearly 50% of sales ($72 million).

On the investment side, Fibertex Nonwovens established a South African facility in 2010. Featuring a state-of-the-art needlepunch line, this facility mainly targets the geotextiles market as well as the growing automotives market.

Fibertex Nonwovens spent its first three years in South Africa establishing a presence in the country, and in early 2013 it acquired a stake in distributor Geotextile Africa to improve its market positions. Executives expect growth in South Africa to come on the heels of a large number of infrastructure projects both in neighboring countries and locally.

“South Africa has seen nice development, particularly in late 2013,” Madsen says. “We have really focused on developing our business outside of Europe.”

In addition to global expansion, Fibertex Nonwovens continues to expand itself into new technical markets. “We are in many niche markets, like acoustics and low and high end filtration. We are also increasing our focus on what we call advanced nonwovens,” Madsen adds.