2011 Nonwovens Sales: $229 million
Mikael Staal Axelsen, group CEO; Mette Due Søgaard, CTO, Denmark; Anders Søgaard, COO, Denmark; Kenneth Mynster Dolmer, CCO, Denmark; Claus Svanberg, CFO, Denmark; Peter Andersen, CEO, Malaysia; Peter Bach Sigvardt, COO, Malaysia; Ong Soo Fen, CFO, Malaysia
Three lines in Denmark, three in Malaysia
Comfort, Elite, Dual
Hygiene—applications within baby diapers, feminine care and adult incontinence
In 2011, Fibertex Personal Care began operating independently from Fibertex Nonwovens, which also made the Top Company ranking this year at number 35 (see page 88). With facilities in Denmark and Malaysia, Fibertex Personal Care continues to make strategic investments, priming its operations for future growth.
Recognizing great potential in the developing Asia-Pacific region, the company has been expanding capacity in Malyasia, installing a third line in November of 2011, which will add about 22,000 tons of capacity per year. Mikael Staal Axelsen, group CEO, says he expects the line will be running at full capacity by the end of 2012.
The company also announced a $55 million investment in a fourth state-of-the-art production line in Malaysia that will increase total capacity by 30%, to 70,000 tons per year, over the next two years.
The Malaysia division performed very well in 2011, according to the 2011 annual report from parent company Schow & Co. Capacity utilization was high and production efficiency was satisfactory throughout the year. The challenge moving forward will be to utilize the greater production capacity while manufacturing products of high and uniform quality on a consistent basis.
Overall, Fibertex Personal Care’s revenue increased from DKK 1.24 billion in 2010 to DKK 1.31 billion in 2011, driven by higher selling prices that were triggered by higher raw materials costs, the company says. However, earnings fell, due in part to weaker sales in Europe in the first half of the year.
Volumes declined during the year due in part to “changing buying patters of certain major customers, and certain Middle East markets were affected by political unrest in the region, causing a drop in sales,” the annual report states.
While the company sees limited growth opportunities and strong price pressures in Europe, Asia represents solid opportunities for organic expansion in the coming years. “There is a clear overcapacity of spunmelt right now,” Axelsen says of Europe. However, the company continues to develop value-added products at its Denmark facilities.
“We are looking to make our products more attractive in the market but in principle it’s also important to cope with this overcapacity,” notes Axelsen.
In its annual report, the company says it expects to generate revenue of about DKK 1.5-1.6 billion in 2012, pending changes in raw material costs, which have since stabilized.
As for company achievements to note, Fibertex Personal Care received a Business Partner Excellence Award from Procter & Gamble in 2011, which is given to top suppliers. This was the company’s third such award. Axlesen says the recognition represents the company’s commitment to high quality and service. “This is where we see our key strengths,” he adds.
In April 2012, P&G also issued its environmental sustainability scorecard, which is designed to rate suppliers on key sustainability metrics across their supply chains. Fibertex Personal Care was among 17 companies that received the highest possible score.
This latest recognition from P&G exemplifies the company’s focus on the environment. Fibertex Personal Care has made a significant effort to reduce its energy consumption and to change its processes in order to convert its heating source from electricity to natural gas.
The company’s focus on energy consumption and cost savings has reduced carbon emissions per kilo of finished goods by about 20% over the past 10 years. The company is planning additional energy-saving projects for 2012 at factories in Denmark and Malaysia.
Additionally, as much as 95% of waste from production is reused, and the rest is incinerated for energy recovery purposes. The company intends to continue mapping its environmental footprint, applying lifecycle analysis and other tools to reduce its impact further.
In other company dealings, Fibertex Personal Care’s joint venture (15% ownership) in Germany, Innowo, recently installed a second production line. The nonwoven printing company offers highly specialized, value-added prints that can be applied directly onto nonwovens in various applications via highly advanced technologies, says Axelsen.
2012 Nonwovens Sales: $235 million
Key Personnel: Mikael Staal Axelsen, group CEO; Mette Due Sogaard, CTO, Denmark; Anders Sogaard, COO, Denmark; Kenneth Mynster Dolmer, CCO, Denmark; Claus Svanberg, CFO, Denmark; Peter Andersen, CEO, Malaysia; Peter Bach Sigvardt, COO, Malaysia; Ong Soo Fen, CFO, Malaysia
Plants: Three lines in Denmark, three in Malaysia
Brands: Comfort, Elite, Dual
Major Markets: Hygiene—applications within baby diapers, feminine care and adult incontinence
Expansion in Asia continues to be a focus for Fibertex Personal Care. Not only is the Aalborg, Denmark company increasing its Malaysian capacity by 30%, it has established sales offices in India and Japan to strengthen its presence in these markets. With production sites in Malaysia and Denmark, the company, which split from its technical business in early 2011 to become a company solely focused on hygiene, sells its products all over the world with a main emphasis on Europe and Asia.
A major maker of spunmelt nonwovens primarily for hygiene applications, Fibertex Personal Care operates six production lines, three in Denmark and three in Malaysia. In sync with its production footprint, Fibertex Personal Care reports that the bulk of its sales are to major international producers of diapers and other hygiene products located in Europe and Asia.
In spring 2012, the company announced it would add a fourth line in Malaysia, increasing that site’s capacity by 30% to 70,000 tons by the end of 2013. This $50 million investment comes not long after the completion of a third line, which added 22,000 tons of capacity to the site.
“We have been experiencing great growth in Asia, that is for sure,” says group CEO Mikael Staal Axelsen. “It’s not just in Malaysia. We are seeing success in Japan, Australia, India, the whole region.”
Fibertex Personal Care began production in Malaysia in 2003 and soon added line number two in 2005. These investments have been credited with driving the company’s sales forward in recent years. To date, the company has no plans to add a production facility elsewhere in Asia, saying it is successful enough targeting the entire region for the Malaysian site.
“We have no plan to build elsewhere in Asia,” Axelsen says. “Of course, there is a new line coming in India from Global Nonwovens and everyone is looking there but China is crowded with companies and that is why we are not there.”
Overall, Fibertex Personal Care’s sales increased 11% to reach DKK1.459 billion ($254 million) in 2012 and growth was largely attributed to the full utilization of the third Malaysian line. The company expects sales to continue this upward trajectory in 2013 and receive a significant boost once line number four in Malaysia comes onstream in late 2013, boosting that site’s capacity by 30%.
Fibertex Personal Care began making spunmelt nonwovens in 1997 when it was still known simply as Fibertex and also contained an industrial-centered division. In 2010, Fibertex separated its hygiene-related assets from its industrial side, creating two distinct companies, Fibertex Personal Care and Fibertex Nonwovens. Both companies continue to be owned by Schouw & Co.
Since entering the spunmelt market, Fibertex has attributed its impressive level of growth to maintaining strong professional relationships with its customers and this strategy has resulted in a number of awards and distinctions from key customers. The most recent of these were a Supplier of the Year award from Ontex, the Belgium private label hygiene products maker, which was awarded in June, and the Procter & Gamble External Business Partner award in September 2012.
Looking ahead, Fibertex will continue to focus on maintaining earnings by optimizing production lines, maintaining high operational efficiency and ensuring high capacity utilization.
“The focus will be on growing our sales to sell the new capacity in Malaysia,” Axelsen says. “For sure, we will continue to grow.”
2013 Nonwovens Sales: $263 million
Mikael Staal Axelsen, group CEO; Peter Andersen, CEO, Malaysia; Claus Svanberg, group CFO; Mette Due Sogaard, group quality and sustainability director; Kenneth Mynster Dolmer, group supply chain director; Anders Sogaard, operations director, Denmark; Peter Bach Sigvardt, operations director, Malaysia; Ong Soo Fen, CFO, Malaysia
Three lines in Denmark, four in Malaysia
Comfort, Elite, Dual
Hygiene—applications within baby diapers, feminine care and adult incontinence
Sales for Aalborg, Denmark-based Fibertex Personal Care continued to grow last year, increasing 7% to DKK1,554 million, or $263 million, driven largely by the successful introduction of its third Malaysian line but also by increased volumes in Denmark.
This growth is expected to continue, particularly out of Asia, where its fourth line came on stream at its Malaysian facility at the end of 2013. This new line, representing a $50 million investment, increased the company’s Malaysian capacity 30% to 70,000 tons. Coming not long after the completion of the site’s third line, which added 22,000 tons to the site, this ambitious investment is the result of strong growth in the Asian hygiene market, which is growing more than 10% per year, according to group CEO Mikael Staal Axelsen.
“The four major Asian markets are Japan, China, ASEAN and India and they are growing across the board,” he says. “In addition to its Malaysian operation, we have also added country managers for Japan and India.”
According to Axelsen, pricing in Asia has been challenged due to overcapacity brought on by overinvestment in China that was made in anticipation of growth that has not been as fast as expected. Therefore, a lot of Chinese-made nonwovens are being sold in India. For this reason, Fibertex Personal Care has ruled out investing in India for now and will instead serve the market from its Malaysian base, which was established in 2002.
“Investing in Malaysia has been a good decision for us,” Axelsen says. “We have been able to grow our Asian business. We have a good workforce there. It has been good.”
As its Asian business has been in investment mode, its European operation, located in Aalborg, Denmark, continues to be a success. The company has not added to the site, since its third line was started in late 2006, but it reports all three of the lines in Aalborg are full and the European market is performing well.
“Europe is pretty much in balance as long as nobody puts in a new line,” Axelsen says.
A company 100% focused on the hygiene market, Fibertex Personal Care is now focusing its efforts on meeting demand for softness in the personal care market. “It can be hard to down guage and go to lower weights without sacrificing softness but bulky soft materials being developed on our latest line have given us the ability to meet these demands,” Axelsen says. “They are just now starting to take off.”
Fibertex Personal Care began making spunmelt nonwovens in 1997 when it was still known simply as Fibertex and also contained an industrial-centered division.
In 2010, Fibertex separated its hygiene-related assets from its industrial side, creating two distinct companies, Fibertex Personal Care and Fibertex Nonwovens. Both companies continue to be owned by Schouw & Co.
Since entering the spunmelt market, Fibertex Personal Care has attributed its impressive level of growth to maintaining strong professional relationships with its customers and this strategy has resulted in a number of awards and distinctions from key customers including supplier of the year awards from both Procter & Gamble and Ontex in 2013.
“Being 100% involved in hygiene was a choice we made and it has been successful for us to have a narrow focus,” Axelsen says of his company’s progress. “A lot of companies are looking for diversification but that is not our strategy.”