Nonwovens Industry
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Fiberweb


Location: Nashville, TN

Sales: $750 Million

Description: Key Personnel
Wayne Sanders, chairman and CEO; Thomas Falk, president and COO; Robert Abernathy, group president, Business to Business Sector; Sean Erwin, president, Nonwoven Fabrics Operations and Technology; Rosalind Brewer, vice president, Nonwoven Fabrics Business

Nonwovens Manufacturing Facilities
Corinth, MS; Balfour, NC; Lexington, NC; LaGrange, GA; Neenah, WI

ISO Status
Certification achieved in Lexington, NC and LaGrange, GA; other facilities in process

Processes
Spunbond, melt blown, SMS, BCW, hydroentangled and Coform

Brand Names
Accord fabrics, Blockit protective fabric, Breeze facemask media, Cyclean filtration media, Dustop protective fabric, Evolution 4 protective fabric, Intrepid filtration media, Noah protective fabric, Powerloft filtration media, Ultimet filtration media

Major Markets
Electrical, filtration, furniture, hygiene, industrial, medical, packaging, protective, sorbents, textile linings, and wet wipes
 
For Kimberly-Clark, Dallas, TX, a company that distinguishes itself by being a large consumer products company as well as a roll goods producer, 2001 was an excellent year. While a large portion of its nonwovens production is consumed by its end use businesses, the company freely focuses its external roll goods business on high performance products and specialty markets. Concentrating on these high performance products, the external roll goods business achieved record results for 2001.
 
“A lot of our success in external roll good markets is due to our research focus on value added materials developed from our proprietary technologies,” explained J.C. Sneyd, director of marketing and sales, Nonwoven Fabrics Business. “We have strategically decided to emphasize high performance materials where advancements are readily perceived by the fabric’s end users.”
 
While many companies involved in nonwovens sales are going through lean times, K-C is reporting positive results that company management attributes to a number of factors. Chief among these factors is a strong sense of industry trends generated through its consumer products business, a company history ripe with technology and innovation and a continued focus on research and development. Within the past two years, the nonwovens industry has seen several companies scale back core re­search and development in an effort to trim costs, but Mr. Sneyd maintained that core research and development remains the key driving force behind the growth of K-C’s roll goods business.
 
“Maintenance of core R&D, going beyond minor incremental product ‘tweaks,’ is critical to fueling future growth,” Mr. Sneyd said, adding that this is not necessarily the story for the nonwovens industry as a whole. “We continue to see significant growth in our market segments, all being fueled by our investments in innovative technology. Companies scaling back could place themselves in danger of not realizing the innovation needed for future growth.”
 
In December 2001, K-C formed a new Business to Business entity composed of the K-C Professional, Healthcare, Neenah Paper, Technical Paper and Nonwoven Fabrics Business Units. Comprising nearly 25% of the company’s total sales, the new division is being led by group president Robert Abernathy.
 
The reorganization is expected to benefit all the component sectors, allowing them to realize synergies in going to market.” Mr. Sneyd said. “There is more interface between businesses and learning that is benefiting all functional areas.”
 
One key area for K-C’s Nonwoven Fabrics Business in recent years has been filtration. The dynamics of this segment allow customers to appreciate the innovative and differentiated products that K-C has to offer. In fact, K-C’s presence in the filtration market has become so sound that end use customers actually recognize K-C media in filtration products. Among the brand names are Intrepid, for commercial, industrial and residential heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) applications, and Powerloft and Fathom, for commercial liquid applications. All three of these products have demonstrated significant benefits to the end user including air cleanliness, less filter changes and cost savings. “We hear good things about our media’s performance and we can see it in its successful growth,” Mr. Sneyd explained. “Our customers tell us our approach to the market is unique and our media brand identity along with superior performance has contributed to their success.”

In terms of technology, K-C does not rely on borrowed, off-the shelf manufacturing platforms and instead creates its own equipment for producing nonwovens. This allows the company to create proprietary products that may not be readily challenged by competitive substitutes. While its spunbond, melt blown, SMS, BCW, stretchable, hydroentangled and Coform technologies are readily seen in the marketplace, K-C does not comment on its manufacturing capabilities or its future plans for expansion and improvements. One thing that Mr. Sneyd was able to reveal, however, is the company’s continued commitment to improving its technology. “Honing of capabilities and improving our products is something we do constantly,” he said. “We are constantly improving our base manufacturing.”
 
Looking globally, the majority of K-C’s external roll goods business has historically been conducted within North America. This is starting to change as the business and its distributors increase shipments to Europe, Asia and South America. Some of this increase in international sales has even resulted from European customers approaching K-C based solely on brand recognition. “We believe our branded products are being recognized and wanted in areas beyond our initial target markets,” said Mr. Sneyd.
 
On the consumer products side of K-C’s business, the company continues to benefit from a strong position in a number of personal care segments. Last year, the company’s personal care business, which includes Huggies diapers, Pull-Ups training pants, Kotex feminine hygiene products and Depend and Poise adult incontinence items, achieved sales of $3.27 billion. Sales in the segment have been boosted recently by the acquisition of Italian baby diaper brand Lines, a new diaper manufacturing plant in the Czech Republic and, most recently, the acquisition of its remaining stake in K-C Australia. K-C Australia, which has operated as a joint venture between K-C and Amcor Limited for four decades, is the leading manufacturer of tissue, personal care and healthcare items in Australia and New Zealand with annual sales of approximately $400 million.
 
K-C’s consumer products business has also benefited by the surge of nonwovens–based products seen in many segments of the consumer products market in recent years. In April, the company launched The Neat Sheet, a water-repellent, cloth-like ground cover that is an alternative to a bulky beach blanket, bed sheet or tarp. It is big enough to comfortably seat a family of four yet small and light enough to be stored in a beach bag, backpack or picnic basket. This product was reportedly created to meet an unmet need in the consumer market that was first realized during consumer focus groups for Huggies Little Swimmers disposable swim pants.
 
K-C continues to make strides in its flagship business in the personal care segment. During the past 12 months, the company has announced improvements to both its Huggies baby diaper and Pull-Up training pants lines. In July, K-C developed a first-of-its kind diaper with all-around stretch for a more secure and comfortable fit for its Huggies Supreme diaper line. The diaper features a stretchable outer cover, a stretch waistband and stretch ears and large tabs to make fastening a diaper easier. In April, the company launched an improved Pull-Ups training pant that is 30% thinner for an improved fit under children’s clothing and features bolder, more colorful graphics for an enhanced gender-specific look. In short, the new Pull-Ups now look and feel more like “big kid” underwear than ever before. This latest modification is just one of many improvements K-C has made to its Pull-Ups product since introducing them and subsequently creating the market for disposable training pants in 1989. Since the original introduction, Pull-Ups have been improved through the addition of leak guards, designs that fade when wet and the introduction of larger sizes for children who toilet train later.
 
Looking toward the future, K-C will focus on several strategies to continue success in its external roll goods business. For one, the company will continue to capitalize on market-unique, K-C-developed technologies. Additionally, K-C will continue to explore branding opportunities that have proven to be successful and created long term loyalty among its customers.
 
“We continue to enjoy exceptionally long-term relationships with our customers,” explained Mr. Sneyd. “Our focus has been to choose segments that value product performance, continue to innovate and partner to make our customers successful.”
Location: Nashville, TN

Sales: $850 million

Description: BBA Fiberweb–Americas
Old Hickory, TN
Telephone: 615-847-7000
Web: www.bbafiberweb.com

Plants
Bethune, SC; Green Bay, WI; Gray Court, SC; Griswoldville, MA; Queretaro, Mexico; Old Hickory, TN; Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil; Simpsonville, SC; Toronto, OT, Canada; Washougal, WA

Processes
Airlaid, chemical bonded, caustic entanglement, thermal bonding, hydroentanglement, meltblown, sorbent composites, spunbond PP, PET bicomponent

Brand Names
Reemay, Korma, Starweb, AQF, Securon, Terram, Typar, Softex, Sofspan, Webril, Novonette, Biobarrier, Bidim, Linopor, UltraFlo

Major Markets
Construction and ground contact, consumer care, filtration, hygiene, medical and protective markets, industrial specialties, sorbent materials

BBA Fiberweb - Asia-Pacific
Kowloon, Hong Kong
Telephone: 852-2620-5677
Web: www.bbafiberweb.com

Plants
Tianjin, China; Rayong, Thailand

Processes
Airlaid, chemical bonded, caustic entanglement, thermal bonding, hydroentanglement, meltblown, sorbent composites, spunbond PP, PET bicomponent

Brand Names
Reemay, Korma, Starweb, AQF, Securon, Terram, Typar, Softex, Sofspan, Webril, Novonette, Biobarrier, Bidim, Linopor, UltraFlo

Major Markets
Construction and ground contact, consumer care, filtration, hygiene, medical and protective markets, industrial specialties, sorbent materials

BBA Fiberweb—Europe
Trezzano Rosa, Italy
Telephone: 39-02090-999-1
Web: www.bbamtg.com

Plants
Biesheim, France; Aschersleben, Germany; Berlin, Germany; Trezzano Rosa, Italy; Pontypool, U.K.; Norrköping, Sweden; Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia (JV); Port Elizabeth, South Africa (JV)

Process
Airlaid, chemical bonded, caustic entanglement, thermal bonded, hydroentanglement, meltblown, sorbent composites, spunbond PP, PET bicomponent

Brand Names
Reemay, Korma, Starweb, AQF, Securon, Terram, Typar, Softex, Sofspan, Webril, Novonette, Biobarrier, Bidim, Linopor, UltraFlo

Major Markets
Construction and ground contact, consumer care, filtration, hygiene, medical and protective markets, industrial specialties, sorbent materials

BBA Materials Group—Sorbent Division
Peregallo di Lesmo, Italy
Telephone: 39-039-62847-1
Web: www.bbafiberweb.com

Plants
Peregallo di Lesmo, Italy; Charlotte, NC; Simpsonville, SC; Tianjin, China

Processes
Airlaid, chemical bonded, caustic entanglement, thermal bonding, hydroentanglement, meltblown, sorbent composites, spunbond PP, PET bicomponent

Brand Names
Reemay, Korma, Starweb, AQF, Securon, Terram, Typar, Softex, Sofspan, Webril, Novonette, Biobarrier, Bidim, Linopor, UltraFlo

Major Markets
Construction and ground contact, consumer care, filtration, hygiene, medical and protective markets, industrial specialties, sorbent materials

A new organizational structure, a name change and a continued focus on expansion and acquisition has BBA Fiberweb, Nashville, TN, well poised for future growth in the nonwovens industry. Already, the company, formerly known as BBA Materials Technology Division, was able to significantly grow its nonwovens sales from $750 million in 2001 to $850 million last year.  The company has also been helped by its diverse asset base, strong technology and a high quality workforce, according to CEO Ross McMillan.
 
“Our objective of profitable growth demands that our manufacturing assets deliver low cost, high efficiency and quality that meets or exceeds our customers’ expectations. We must continually offer our customers new products and ideas to help them grow their businesses through a customer-focused and market-driven organization throughout all our worldwide operations,” Mr. McMillan explained.   
 
To accomplish these goals, in early 2003, the company was reorganized into strategic regional and global markets. Under this reorganization Bob Britton was appointed president of the Americas division; Gianluigi Fornoni was called to lead the European division and Robert Rufli was named president of the Asia-Pacific division.
 
In addition to regional divisions, BBA Fiberweb broke out its absorbent products business into its own division. Named Sorbent Materials Division and headed by Herbert Gerlach, this designation is intended to provide global leadership and focus to this market. “Diaper and fem care are the markets that come to mind when absorbent materials are discussed, but sorbent technology is much broader,” Mr. Gerlach explained. “This technology represents an area of growth that spans a diverse number markets and applications from food packaging and liquid management to odor control and waste management.”
 
The Sorbent division includes markets supplied by Korma assets in North America and Europe, the China airlaid operations and AQF in North America.
 
Other organizational changes made through the new business structure include the appointment of Ed Thomas as vice president, responsible for research and development on a global level.  BBA Fiberweb has provided an additional boost to its research and development program by creating Centers of Excellence as well as a global research center in Peine, Germany to identify new polymers, processes and web structures to support the division’s broader hygiene and industrial product strategy.
 
Likewise, human resources, information and technology and finance functions were centralized and will be globally managed by Phil Storey, who leads the finance and IT areas, and Bill Rusak, who manages human resources.
 
“These changes enable the company to become more intensely focused and thus more efficient,” Mr. Fornoni explained. “Going forward, we will be structured in a way that will allow us to meet the needs of our customers more effectively.”
 
The company has taken this new structure a step further by merging the names of its various nonwovens businesses into one umbrella name, BBA Fiberweb. This name and its logo more accurately describes the nonwoven products the company makes and what it supplies to its customers, according to executives. “We supply a dynamic and diverse ‘web’ of engineered fabrics that provide solutions to customers’ needs based on synthetic and natural fibers,” Mr. McMillian explained. “This name change will unite the many operations of the division under a single global identity and philosophy with the aim of helping our customers, employees and competitors recognize our worldwide strength and scope.”
 
An important part of parent company London, U.K.-based BBA Group, BBA Fiberweb currently contributes about 40% of the company’s sales. This percentage has increased in recent years as the division has restructured and implemented a number of productivity improvement projects that have delivered positive results.  
 
Expansion plans have always been at the forefront of BBA Fiberweb’s improvement strategy. Most recently, a new spunmelt line was added in Rayong, Thailand. This line, which BBA Fiberweb operates with joint venture partner CP Group under the name CNC, began production in the first quarter of 2003, three months ahead of schedule, and is expected to supply materials to the hygiene and medical markets of Southeast Asia.
 
In other expansion news, BBA Fiberweb is constructing a spunmelt line in Peine, Germany, and is starting up a hydroentanglement line in Bethune, SC. The Peine line was announced in late March 2003 and is expected to provide new technology and capacity for hygiene and medical markets throughout Europe. The hydroentanglement line, started in March 2003, will create wiping fabrics for hygiene applications.
 
“Our technology and ability to invest have helped us secure business and build relationships in markets we feel are strategically important,” Mr. Britton explained.
 
Among these markets is wipes, where the aforementioned hydroentanglement line, constructed in Bethune, SC, led to the establishment of a multiyear contract for the supply of baby wipes to a leading consumer care company. Company executives expect this contract to deliver revenues of $250 million over the life of the agreement.
 
“The wiping market is an area projected for nonwovens growth. At BBA Fiberweb, we are poised and committed to meeting these demands and grow in the market,” said David Price, vice president of North America marketing and sales.  “BBA Fiberweb is supplying substrates to several ‘new-to-the-world’ consumer products.  Within Europe a wiping products group has been formed with a complete line of products.”    
 
Another area gaining speed is medical, in which BBA Fiberweb recently received a multiyear contract from one of the world’s leading producers of medical gowns and drapes. This U.S.-based healthcare group will be producing all of its gowns using Securon, a new high-barrier spunbond polypropylene material that is unique to BBA Fiberweb. Gowns made with Securon were launched in the U.S. during the fourth quarter of 2002 and are scheduled to launch in Europe in late 2003. Additional investments are planned to increase capacity and expand the product line to include even higher performance medical products.  
 
BBA Fiberweb’s hygiene business has been boosted by several initiatives in the film area. In addition to the film lamination assets, currently operated through the joint venture company, Finotech (Aschersleben, Germany), BBA Fiberweb has joined forces again with Finotech to form another new company, APA, Advanced Printing Aschersleben.
 
APA has recently installed two state-of-the-art, in-line, four-color process machines that can print directly on a number of substrates including nonwovens and films.  “The ability to supply a single purchase point for a four-color printed diaper backsheet laminate differentiates BBA Fiberweb from its competition,” explained Pieter Meijer, vice president of marketing and sales, Europe.  “Supply from other companies requires a separate operation for printing.”
 
Executives feel that recent investments demonstrate how important hygiene is to its overall business. “Our hygiene business and customers throughout the world are extremely important to us.  We have made recent investments to supply quality products to our global customers in Europe and Asia.   “BBA Fiberweb’s facility in Peine, Germany was identified as our research center for hygiene development,” explained Mr. McMillan.  “While the hygiene market remains an important component of our product portfolio, we are further increasing our commercial and development resources to support and grow our industrial businesses.  We see these markets as offering an excellent foundation for future growth including organic and new investments and targeted acquisitions where appropriate.”
 
Meanwhile, in BBA Fiberweb’s industrial segment, product improvements have yielded positive results for the company. Earlier this year, BBA Fiberweb launched an improved Typar HouseWrap product to the construction market. This new product offers improved tear resistance and higher hydrostatic head than competitive products. Sales within this segment have grown more than 30% since the first quarter of 2003.
 
In first quarter of 2003, under its “whole house envelope” concept, BBA Fiberweb also introduced Typar RoofWrap, a roofing underlayment material that is designed to provide superior roof protection and improved performance compared with traditional felt materials.
 
Typar received another boost in June 2003 when The Nashville Habitat for Humanity selected BBA Fiberweb as its single source for housewrap material.  The Nashville project is one of the largest Habitat for Humanity projects in the nation.
 
Another core area reaping the benefits of new product introductions is BBA Fiberweb’s Filtration Division.  During the first quarter of 2003, the Filtration Division launched Reemay Advantage, which combines the uniformity and strength of Reemay polyester with Microban antimicrobial product protection to create truly unique pool and spa filtration media.  Meanwhile, Reemay X-Treme fabric is a pleatable, multidenier polyester spunbond media offering excellent dust-holding capabilities and low pressure drop for liquid and air filtration.
 
Another core industrial area for BBA Fiberweb includes geotextiles, where the company is growing its marketshare through product line extensions, improved distributorship and targeted marketing campaigns.
 
Also padding BBA Fiberweb’s business is the acquisition of Superior Nonwovens in Gray Court, SC.  Superior Nonwovens’ spunmelt business has reinforced BBA Fiberweb’s position as a leading supplier of spunbond polyester nonwovens while increasing its foothold in South Carolina, an important U.S. region for nonwovens production.
 
Looking toward the nonwovens industry in general, executives described it as extremely competitive, characterized by pockets of overcapacity and rising raw materials costs that present a challenge to maintaining profitable growth. In 2002 alone, polypropylene prices increased 20% and have since risen 15% in 2003.  These increases are being driven by energy-related costs and high-capacity utilization of polypropylene manufacturing assets. With polypropylene demand growth at more than 4-5% and no new announced capacity slated for the medium term, cost pressures are expected to continue.
 
Polyester, another important raw material for BBA Fiberweb, has reported price increases of 18% to date in 2003. Other raw material costs that have risen significantly include transportation and packaging. To offset some of these increases, BBA Fiberweb has raised prices.
 
“Raising prices during a depressed economy is difficult, but our corporate responsibility dictates that price increases be implemented,” explained David Price, vice president of marketing and sales for North America. “Our customers expect us to maintain our leadership position with high quality products and services.  Likewise, our stockholders and employees expect us to deliver acceptable levels of return and maintain financial viability.”
 
Committed to the future, BBA Fiberweb will continue to focus on growth, relationships and innovation. Growth is expected to come from a number of sources including existing internal business and new investments, joint ventures and acquisitions. “We have been successful in each of these endeavors in the past and expect to continue this successful track record in the future,” Mr. McMillan explained. “Our customers, suppliers, employees and stockholders are critically important to us.  We will continue to build and support these relationships through excellence and innovation in all our operations and continue to improve on the level and quality and service we offer our customers.”
Location: Brentwood, TN

Sales: $900 MILLION

Description: BBA Fiberweb–Americas
Headquarters: Nashville, TN
Telephone: 615-847-7507
Web: www.bbafiberweb.com

Plants
Bethune, SC; Green Bay, WI; Gray Court, SC; Griswoldville, MA; Queretaro, Mexico; Old Hickory, TN; Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil; Simpsonville, SC; Toronto, OT, Canada; Washougal, WA

Processes
Airlaid, chemical bonded, caustic entanglement, thermal bonding, hydroentanglement, meltblown, sorbent composites, spunbond PP, PET bicomponent

Brand Names
Reemay, Korma, Starweb, AQF, Securon, Terram, Typar, Softex, Sofspan, Webril, Novonette, Biobarrier, Bidim, Linopor, UltraFlo

Major Markets
Construction and ground contact, consumer care, filtration, hygiene, medical and protective markets, industrial specialties, sorbent materials

BBA Fiberweb - Asia-Pacific
Headquarters: Kowloon, Hong Kong
Telephone: 852-2620-5677
Web: www.bbafiberweb.com

Plants
Tianjin, China; Rayong, Thailand

Processes
Airlaid, chemical bonded, caustic entanglement, thermal bonding, hydroentanglement, meltblown, sorbent composites, spunbond PP, PET bicomponent

Brand Names
Reemay, Korma, Starweb, AQF, Securon, Terram, Typar, Softex, Sofspan, Webril, Novonette, Biobarrier, Bidim, Linopor, UltraFlo

Major Markets
Construction and ground contact, consumer care, filtration, hygiene, medical and protective markets, industrial specialties, sorbent materials

BBA Fiberweb—Europe
Headquarters: Via Bologna 7
Trezzano Rosa 20060 Italy
Telephone: 39-02090-999-1; Fax: 39-02090-999-400
Web: www.bbafiberweb.com

Plants
Biesheim, France; Aschersleben, Germany; Berlin, Germany; Trezzano Rosa, Italy; Carbonate, Italy; Pontypool, U.K.; Norrköping, Sweden; Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia (JV); Port Elizabeth, South Africa (JV)

Processes
Airlaid, chemical bonded, caustic entanglement, thermal bonding, hydroentanglement, meltblown, sorbent composites, spunbond PP, PET bicomponent

Brand Names
Reemay, Korma, Starweb, AQF, Securon, Terram, Typar, Softex, Sofspan, Webril, Novonette, Biobarrier, Bidim, Linopor, UltraFlo

Major Markets
Construction and ground contact, consumer care, filtration, hygiene, medical and protective markets, industrial specialties, sorbent materials

BBA Materials Group—Sorbent Division
Headquarters:  Peregallo di Lesmo Italy
Telephone: 39-039-62847-1
Web: www.bbafiberweb.com

Plants
Peregallo di Lesmo, Italy; Charlotte, NC; Simpsonville, SC; Tianjin, China

Processes
Airlaid, chemical bonded, caustic entanglement, thermal bonding, hydroentanglement, meltblown, sorbent composites, spunbond PP, PET bicomponent

Brand Names
Reemay, Korma, Starweb, AQF, Securon, Terram, Typar, Softex, Sofspan, Webril, Novonette, Biobarrier, Bidim, Linopor, UltraFlo

Major Markets
Construction and ground contact, consumer care, filtration, hygiene, medical and protective markets, industrial specialties, sorbent materials

BBA Fiberweb has continued to perform well thanks to a three-tiered success strategy which includes: productivity and capital control; growth in top line management through business wins, marketshare gains and acquisitions and through cash flow maximization. While the company’s nonwovens division has been impacted by rising raw material costs and lower margins, it was able to grow sales 5% last year  to £527.5 million (nearly $900 million) on 4% volume growth.
 
The Nashville, TN-based division of London-based BBA Group, BBA Fiberweb operates through strategic regional and global markets in the Americas, Europe and the Asia-Pacific. Additionally, BBA contains a Sorbent Materials division which includes the company’s large diaper and feminine hygiene businesses as well as the smaller food packaging, liquid management, odor control and waste management areas.
 
BBA Fiberweb operates facilities throughout North America, South America, Europe and Asia and has its hand in virtually every technology and market in nonwovens. The streamlining of the company into these new divisions, which were established in spring 2003, was designed to help it make better sense of these businesses and better handle the challenges of running a global business.
 
By end use market, one area experiencing considerable success for BBA is construction. Sales in this area soared 20% last year thanks largely to advances in Typar Housewrap, which offers exceptional water holdout that is more than twice the minimum U.S. code requirement. Significant tear resistance allows Typar HouseWrap to survive environmental and construction stress. This product beat out others from 3M and CUNO to win an Achievement Award in the long-life category at this spring’s IDEA04 International engineered Fabrics Conference and Exposition.
 
In filtration, another core area for BBA, new products include Reemay Advantage. Launched in early 2003, this product combines the uniformity and strength of Reemay polyester with Microban antimicrobial product protection to create unique pool and spa filtration media. Also new is Reemay X-Treme fabric, a pleatable, multidenier polyester spunbond media offering excellent dust holding capabilities and low pressure drop for liquid and air filtration.
 
Also reporting positive sales growth was the Consumer Care division, which includes BBA’s baby wipe and other wipes businesses. Reporting sales of £81 million, a 6% increase, this area benefited from a new baby wipes line in Bethune, SC, which began operation in March 2003 and is currently running at planned levels. Boosting Consumer Care is the E33 million acquisition of Tecnofibra, a Milan, Italy-based company that is one of Europe’s largest suppliers of wipes and other consumer care products. Executives expect that this acquisition will help BBA grow the business outside of the U.S.
 
Meanwhile, healthcare sales, which include BBA’s sizable hygiene and disposable products business, grew 5%. The largest of BBA’s divisions, this market has sales of £235 million sales annually. One interesting activity seen in this area is BBA’s recently announced partnership with Procter & Gamble to help establish the U.S.’s first minority-owned nonwovens producer. BBA will provide product for this venture, Amantea Nonwovens, until the Cincinnati-based company builds its own plant. This three-way partnership was reportedly the result of BBA’s strong partnership with Procter & Gamble.
 
Making advances in the field of elastic nonwovens is Advanced Design Concepts, BBA’s joint venture agreement with The Dow Chemical Company. ADC introduced its first commercialized product, an economically attractive elastic nonwovens that can substitute film/net laminate structures, at IDEA 2004. The new products are made from bicomponent spunbond materials which will initially be available in basis weights ranging from 25 to 150 gsm. These materials, which are produced in a single step without lamination, will target personal hygiene, disposable medical and apparel applications. They offer unique properties in terms of breathability, drape and hand, not currently available with elastic films, nets, monofilaments or foams laminated to traditional nonwovens.

On the expansion front, BBA continues to reevaluate its machinery portfolio and make investments where suitable. In addition to the Bethune, SC line, BBA added a spunmelt line in Peine, Germany last year as well as one in Rayong, Thailand through its joint venture partner, CP Group. Additionally, Finotech, BBA’s joint venture company in Aschersleben, Germany, added new online printing capabilities to expand its offerings in the film lamination areas.
 
In Asia, BBA’s airlaid line, located in Tianjin, China, has improved its operation by better using its capacity. The new line came onstream in 2001, marking BBA’s first efforts into airlaid technology.
 
In other acquisition news, BBA purchased Superior Nonwovens, Gray Court, SC, a spunmelt provider, in 2002.  The continued integration of Superior into its existing business, has helped reinforce BBA’s position as a leading supplier of spunbond polyester and increased its foothold in South Carolina, an important U.S. region for nonwovens production.
 
Looking ahead, BBA expects its growth will be largely occur in specialty wipes, household and industrial products and filtration markets. While its many other markets remain extremely important to the company, market research is indicated that these are the fast growing areas. "
Location: Old Hickory, TN

Sales: $1 billion

Description: BBA Fiberweb – Industrial North America
Old Hickory, TN

BBA Fiberweb – Hygiene Americas
Simpsonville, SC

Plants
Bethune, SC; Green Bay, WI; Gray Court, SC; Griswoldville, MA; Queretaro, Mexico; Old Hickory, TN; Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil; Simpsonville, SC; Washougal, WA

Processes
Airlaid, chemical bonded, caustic entanglement, thermal bonding, hydroentanglement, meltblown, sorbent composites, spunbond PP, Spunbond PET, PP and PET bicomponent

Brand Names
Reemay, Korma, Liberty, Qualiflo, Starweb, AQF, Securon, Terram, Typar, Softex, Sofspan, Webril, Novonette, Biobarrier, Bidim, Linopor, UltraFlo

Major Markets
Construction and ground contact, consumer care, filtration, hygiene, medical and protective markets, industrial specialties, sorbent materials

BBA Fiberweb - Asia-Pacific
Kowloon, Hong Kong

Plants
Tianjin, China; Rayong, Thailand

Processes
Airlaid, chemical bonded, caustic entanglement, thermal bonding, hydroentanglement, meltblown, sorbent composites, spunbond PP, PET bicomponent

Brand Names
Reemay, Korma, Starweb, AQF, Securon, Terram, Typar, Softex, Sofspan, Webril, Novonette, Biobarrier, Bidim, Linopor, UltraFlo

Major Markets
Construction and ground contact, consumer care, filtration, hygiene, medical and protective markets, industrial specialties, sorbent materials

BBA Fiberweb—Europe
Trezzano Rosa Italy
Web: www.bbafiberweb.com

Plants
Biesheim, France; Aschersleben, Germany; Berlin, Germany; Trezzano Rosa, Italy; Pontypool, U.K.; Norrköping, Sweden; Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia (JV); Port Elizabeth, South Africa (JV), Peine, Germany; Peregallo di Lesmo, Italy, Terno d’Isola, Italy, Alicante, Spain

Processes
Airlaid, chemical bonded, caustic entanglement, thermal bonding, hydroentanglement, meltblown, sorbent composites, spunbond PP, PP and PET bicomponent

Brand Names
Reemay, Korma, Starweb, AQF, Securon, Terram, Typar, Softex, Sofspan, Webril, Novonette, Biobarrier, Bidim, Linopor, UltraFlo

Major Markets
Construction and ground contact, consumer care, filtration, hygiene, medical and protective markets, industrial specialties, sorbent materials

BBA Materials Group—Sorbent Division
Peregallo di Lesmo Italy

Plants
Peregallo di Lesmo, Italy; Charlotte, NC; Simpsonville, SC; Tianjin, China

Processes
Airlaid, chemical bonded, caustic entanglement, thermal bonding, hydroentanglement, meltblown, sorbent composites, spunbond PP, PET bicomponent

Brand Names
Reemay, Korma, Starweb, AQF, Securon, Terram, Typar, Softex, Sofspan, Webril, Novonette, Biobarrier, Bidim, Linopor, UltraFlo

Major Markets
Construction and ground contact, consumer care, filtration, hygiene, medical and protective markets, industrial specialties, sorbent materials

Two major acquisitions as well as double-digit revenue growth helped propel BBA Fiberweb’s sales past the $1 billion mark in 2004. The multinational nonwovens producer’s sales were $850 million in 2003.
 
“Revenue growth has been good,” said vice president John Reeves. “The nonwovens industry is typically growing at a better rate than the gross domestic product. The problem, however, is tightened margins. Raw material price increases have made things extremely difficult. Margins have declined and we continue to work toward reinvestment levels.”
 
The bright side of the situation is that roll good price increases—blamed largely on rising raw material prices—announced throughout 2004 and into 2005, are starting to be accepted by BBA Fiberweb’s customers. Beyond pricing in­creases, BBA Fiberweb has also worked diligently to absorb these prices by improving yields and reducing waste. “There is a long list of things you can do, but even with all of these initiatives, we weren’t nearly able to absorb the costs,” Mr. Reeves said.
 
The worst part of the raw material prices, which affected virtually all of the ingredients BBA Fiberweb works with, was the quickness of its acceleration. “People in nonwovens were surprised at how quickly things skyrocketed. It wasn’t just oil prices, it was a matter of supply and demand,” Mr. Reeves said, adding that this experience should help nonwovens executives to better understand raw material trends. “We will need to spend more time looking at pricing trends and we will need to find alternative technologies to use in the applications we serve. Hopefully this will make us more flexible in terms of the materials we are using.”
 
Last year, 44% of sales were conducted in Europe, 48% in the Americas and 8% in the Asia-Pacific region. According to Mr. Reeves, this is a breakdown BBA Fiberweb is happy with, for now. “There is no question we are trying to drive growth in the Asia-Pacific region,” he said. “We want it to grow to be in step with our other regions, and we feel we have a good foundation there.”
 
The company currently operates an airlaid line in Tianjin, China as well as a spunmelt line in Thailand, through its joint venture with CP International. According to company literature, the Tianjin line’s output was up 12% in 2004, bringing it nearly to full capacity, on increased demand from the feminine hygiene market. Meanwhile, CNC, the Thai joint venture company has benefited from increased demand in the baby care and medical segments.
 
Recognizing the Asia-Pacific region as the fastest-growing area for nonwovens worldwide, BBA Fiberweb has made expansion there a top priority. A number of new projects are currently under development in the region. “You have to really look at the market. You don’t want to put in capacity that the market is not ready for,” Mr. Reeves said. “BBA Fiberweb is looking at the right technologies for the right markets in the right locations.”
 
Another region with bullish prospects is Latin America, where BBA Fiberweb already operates a facility in Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil and in San Jose Iturbide, Mexico. With these lines operating at near capacity, the company is also deciding what next to do in this region, which offers 8% growth levels in some areas. The challenge here, according to Mr. Reeves, is figuring out how socioeconomic patterns vary from one country to the other. “We are seeing near double-digit growth rates but that’s not in every country. Understanding how to match your capacity with the changing trends is the key.”
 
Meanwhile, in North America and Europe, overcapacity continues to be a problem in nonwovens and this situation is partly responsible for eroding margins. Despite this, BBA Fiberweb continues to see solid organic growth. Last year, North American sales rose 7-8% in a number of applications, namely adult incontinence, wipes, filtration and construction. BBA Fiberweb’s European sales have been boosted by its acquisitions of Italian nonwovens producers Technofibra in 2003 and Tenotex last year.
 
A developer of spunlace, thermal bonded and needlepunched nonwovens for the European wipes market, Tecnofibra generated about E43.8 million in 2002. Tenotex, also a significant player in the European wipes market, reported sales of $88 million last year.
 
The acquisitions will reportedly give BBA Fiberweb more of an edge in industrial applications, particularly in the wipes areas, where it is seeing 6-7% growth levels. “Traditionally, we have been stronger in hygiene than in industrial and these acquisitions give us more opportunities in industrial,” Mr. Reeves said. “We wanted to create a better balance between the two.”
 
In addition to the acquisitions of Tenotex and Technofibra, BBA Fiberweb’s spunlace business includes a large-scale line in Bethune, SC, added in 2002, which is reportedly operating at nearly full capacity to supply the baby wipes market. This segment has seen considerable growth from the vastly proliferating wipes market but a rapid rate of investment in spunlace technology has made overcapacity a concern. This situation has already hit Europe, where new lines are operating, and could occur in North America, with at least three new lines planned to come onstream in the next several months, joining several new lines already up and running. “Overcapacity should be a concern for everybody,” Mr. Reeves said. “Assets need to be balanced in the right way.”
 
BBA Fiberweb has been spending a lot of time on bicomponent technology and already has bicomponent capacity at two facilities in the U.S. and has recently added a 4000-ton-per-year line in Europe, which produces elastic spunbond nonwovens and was developed by Advanced Design Concepts, BBA Fiberweb’s joint venture company with The Dow Chemical Company. Introduced in spring 2004, this stretchable spunbond nonwoven presents promising opportunities to the nonwovens industry because of the performance it can give to hygiene, medical and apparel products. Made from proprietary bico spunbond technology, this elastic material can substitute film/net laminate structures and is initially available in basis weights ranging from 25 to
150 gpsm. Produced in a single step, the materials target personal hygiene, disposable medical and apparel applications and offer unique properties such as breathability, drape and hand not currently available with elastic films, nets, monofilaments or foams.
 
Another new polymer is a polyethylene spunbond that combines the softness of polyethylene with the abrasive resistance of polypropylene. This new technology gives the hygiene market and others an alternative to polypropylene, which has been the victim of dramatic price increases during the past 12-18 months.
 
For accounting purposes, BBA breaks its Fiberweb business into two divisions, industrial and consumer care and healthcare. Last year, industrial and consumer care sales grew a reported 16% thanks to both acquisitions and organic growth. According to reports, this large and diverse business will continue to grow in higher, valued-added segments such as medical, wipes, consumer care and filtration. Key growth strategies include increasing non-U.S.-based business and exiting business characterized by lower returns.
 
In the filtration market, BBA Fiberweb’s Reemay Brand product has been successful in the pool and spa market while expanding the breadth of the company’s filtration offerings in general. The filtration market continues to be an area of growth interest for BBA Fiberweb.
 
Another hot spot on the industrial side of BBA Fiberweb’s business is construction. Its Typar product continues to be number two in the market thanks to its combination of strength, tear resistance, moisture vapor properties and ease of use. BBA Fiberweb has been adding new products to the Typar line to build on the strength of its housewrap product with a range of target-specific products such as flashing and roof wrap.
 
Going forward, it is these key strategies that BBA Fiberweb will rely on to succeed in the future. “We will continue to finetune our assets to drive top and bottom line growth,” Mr. Reeves said. “How we do this will vary from one part of the world to the other, so we have to look at each region separately. That’s a big part of what we are trying to manage right now.”"
Location: Old Hickory, TN

Sales: $1.1 billion

Description: BBA Fiberweb - Industrial North America
Old Hickory, TN
BBA Fiberweb - Hygiene Americas
Simpsonville, SC

Plants
Bethune, SC; Green Bay, WI; Gray Court, SC; Griswoldville, MA; Queretaro, Mexico; Old Hickory, TN; Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil; Simpsonville, SC; Washougal, WA

Processes
Airlaid, chemical bonded, caustic entanglement, thermal bonding, hydroentanglement, meltblown, sorbent composites, spunbond PP, Spunbond PET, PP and PET bicomponent

Brand Names
Reemay, Korma, Liberty, Qualiflo, Starweb, AQF, Securon, Terram, Typar, Softex, Sofspan, Webril, Novonette, Biobarrier, Bidim, Linopor, UltraFlo

Major Markets
Construction and ground contact, consumer care, filtration, hygiene, medical and protective markets, industrial specialties, sorbent materials

BBA Fiberweb - Asia-Pacific
Kowloon, Hong Kong

Plants
Tianjin, China; Rayong, Thailand

Processes
Airlaid, chemical bonded, caustic entanglement, thermal bonding, hydroentanglement, meltblown, sorbent composites, spunbond PP, PET bicomponent

Brand Names
Reemay, Korma, Starweb, AQF, Securon, Terram, Typar, Softex, Sofspan, Webril, Novonette, Biobarrier, Bidim, Linopor, UltraFlo

Major Markets
Construction and ground contact, consumer care, filtration, hygiene, medical and protective markets, industrial specialties, sorbent materials

BBA Fiberweb-Europe
Trezzano Rosa, Italy

Plants
Biesheim, France; Aschersleben, Germany; Berlin, Germany; Trezzano Rosa, Italy; Pontypool, U.K.; Norrköping, Sweden; Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia (JV); Port Elizabeth, South Africa (JV), Peine, Germany; Peregallo di Lesmo, Italy, Terno d’Isola, Italy, Alicante, Spain

Processes
Airlaid, chemical bonded, caustic entanglement, thermal bonding, hydroentanglement, meltblown, sorbent composites, spunbond PP, PP and PET bicomponent

Brand Names
Reemay, Korma, Starweb, AQF, Securon, Terram, Typar, Softex, Sofspan, Webril, Novonette, Biobarrier, Bidim, Linopor, UltraFlo

Major Markets
Construction and ground contact, consumer care, filtration, hygiene, medical and protective markets, industrial specialties, sorbent materials

The big news from BBA Fiberweb is its parent parent’s decision to demerge the nonwovens producer and grant it a separate listing on the London Stock Exchange. The May announcement that BBA Group would demerge the Fiberweb division, which reported a sales increase of 12% to £619 million ($1.1 billion) in 2005, came after an earlier announcement that it was exploring means to separate nonwovens in an effort to focus on its core aviation services business. According to reports, a demerger was favored over a sale when BBA failed to fetch the appropriate price for the nonwovens division. BBA received a number of offers to buy Fiberweb but decided that the demerger and separate listing of Fiberweb were in the best interest of its shareholders.
 
As the company works towards its demerger, growth continues to be a chief concern. In November, the company announced it would expand its Norrköping, Sweden facility through a $25 million investment. Under construction currently is a new 20,000-meter Reifenhäuser 4 spunbond production line, which will largely focus on the hygiene market.  The new line will replace older technology and add nearly 50% additional capacity to the Norrköping site. Executives called the 5.2m wide production line a cost leader in the industry, which will enable the large-scale production of high quality, ultra-lightweight fabrics for the personal care industry.
 
The Swedish investment comes on the heels of doubling spunbond manufacturing capacity in BBA Fiberweb’s plant in San Jose Iturbide, Mexico in 2005-2006, and 50% capacity increases for industrial fabrics at facilities in Germany and in Brazil. These latest investment decisions are part of an accelerated drive by Fiberweb to build further competitive advantage through manufacturing. Further moves to rationalize older capacity and add leading-edge technology may be expected in the Americas and Europe shortly, with expansion in Asia also a high priority for Fiberweb.
 
Commenting on the investment, Fiberweb’s CEO Daniel Dayan said, “I am delighted that we can accelerate the implementation of our strategy in hygiene and industrial markets with this investment. Fiberweb is going to remain a market leader in its chosen segments—competitive in standard products and leading in innovation. Our Swedish site has been a crucial component of our unique worldwide production network and this investment secures its future as an outstanding supplier to Northern European cust­omers.  As we look forward to the pending separation from BBA,  Fiberweb can be seen continuing to develop its business; serving customers and delivering excellent returns for shareholders.”
 
Also set to benefit BBA’s hygiene division is a recent initiative to restructure its hygiene business in the Americas. This plan called for the closure of several older production lines as well as the consolidation of BBA’s Simpsonville, SC site into a smaller area. In June BBA shut down two production lines—a narrow SMS line and a narrow spunbond line—in its Washougal, WA facility, while in July the company closed an SMMMS barrier line, a spunbond line and a portion of a pilot line in Simpsonville, SC.
 
Two other production lines at the Simpsonville site are continuing operation normally and the division headquarters and support structure will remain at the site with offices consolidating among fewer buildings.
 
“The closure of these production lines is a difficult but essential step to ensure that our operations are capable of competing effectively in this very demanding market” said Dave Rousse, president, BBA Fiberweb Hygiene/Medical Americas Division. “These moves follow the decision last year to close our Toronto facility and move the two machines to more strategic sites. The reconditioned Reicofil 3 line going to Mexico is now in production. We are also moving ahead with a warehouse expansion at our Green Bay, WI facility, commercializing a new specialty calendar on Line 3 at our Washougal, WA facility, enhancing our fiber handling capability at Bethune, SC and we are exploring several other promising investment options for Simpsonville and other sites. We regret the impact that closures have on affected individuals and communities. Once we have completed this difficult restructuring, we are optimistic that we will have created a significantly more robust business.”
 
Meanwhile, BBA has expanded its airlaid business with the construction of a new line at its Korma facility near Monza, Italy. The line, representing a $20 million investment, will include the next generation of flexible and modular airlaid technology developed by M&J Fibretech, a division of Neumag. This will be BBA’s second airlaid line. In 2001, the company started its first airlaid operation in Tianjin, China.
 
Despite its ambitious investment plans, BBA continues to struggle, like many nonwovens producers, with raw material prices. In 2005, pricing levels drove Fiberweb operating profits down 10% to £44 million, and executives are reporting continued pressures ahead. However, the restructuring of the North American hygiene business as well as other cost-saving measures are expected to help this situation.
 
Not feeling the brunt of the raw material prices increases so sharply is Fiberweb’s industrial division, which serves such major markets as construction, filtration, sorbents and other specialty areas. Among the company’s industrial markets is filtration where its Reemay brand product has been successful in the pool and spa market while allowing the company to expand the breadth of its filtration media offerings. Additionally, the company’s Typar housewrap product continues to perform well in the construction sector thanks to its combination of strength, tear resistance, moisture vapor properties and ease of use. BBA has been adding new products to its Typar line to build on the strength of its housewrap product with a range of target-specific products such as flashing and a coastal wrap.
 
Also, helping out BBA’s growth is the acquisition of Tenotex in 2004. The addition of this key supplier to the European wipes market has helped BBA expand its role there and gave it a competitive edge in many key industrial markets. Likewise, Technofibra, acquired in 2003, gives BBA Fiberweb access to a number of new technologies and markets.
Location: London, U.K.

Sales: $1.08 billion

Description: Fiberweb Americas
Old Hickory, TN
americas@fiberweb.com

Plants
Green Bay, WI; Queretaro, Mexico; Old Hickory, TN; Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil; Simpsonville, SC; Washougal, WA

Processes
Chemical bonded, thermal bonding, meltblown, sorbent composites, spunbond PP, PE and PET, bicomponent spunbond PP, PE, PET, and PLA

Brand Names
Celestra, Excell, Reemay, Korma, Liberty, Qualiflo, Starweb, AQF, Securon, Terram, Typar, Softex, Sofspan, Webril, Biobarrier, Bidim, Linopor, UltraFlo

Major Markets
Construction and ground contact, consumer care, filtration, hygiene, medical and protective markets, industrial specialties, sorbent materials

Fiberweb Asia
Kowloon, Hong Kong
asia@fiberweb.com

Plant
Tianjin, China

Processes (including imports)
Airlaid, chemical bonded, thermal bonding, meltblown, sorbent composites, spunbond PP, PE and PET, bicomponent spunbond PP, PE, PET, and PLA

Brand Names (including imports)
Celestra, Excell, Reemay, Korma, Starweb, AQF, Securon, Terram, Typar, Softex, Sofspan, Webril, Novonette, Biobarrier, Bidim, Linopor, UltraFlo

Major Markets
Construction and ground contact, consumer care, filtration, hygiene, medical and protective markets, industrial specialties, sorbent materials

Fiberweb Europe
Trezzano Rosa, Italy
europe@fiberweb.com

Plants
Biesheim, France; Aschersleben, Germany; Berlin, Germany; Trezzano Rosa, Italy; Pontypool, U.K.; Norrköping, Sweden; Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia (JV); Port Elizabeth, South Africa (JV), Peine, Germany; Peregallo di Lesmo, Italy, Terno d’Isola, Italy

Processes
Airlaid, chemical bonded, through air bonded, thermal bonding, meltblown, sorbent composites, spunbond PP, PE and PET, bicomponent spunbond PP, PE, PET, and PLA

Brand Names
Celestra, Excell, Reemay, Korma, Starweb, AQF, Securon, Terram, Typar, Softex, Sofspan, Webril, Novonette, Biobarrier, Bidim, Linopor, UltraFlo

Major Markets
Construction and ground contact, consumer care, filtration, hygiene, medical and protective markets, industrial specialties, sorbent materials


It’s been a busy 12 months for Fiberweb (formerly BBA Fiberweb). Not only did the global nonwovens producer separate itself from parent company BBA Group in November 2006, it has spent much of 2007 streamlining its global business including the sale of some businesses and expansions in other areas.
 
In 2006, the company reported a 3.1% sales decline to £584.7 million due largely to a North American restructuring program, announced in mid-2006.  This plan called for the closure of older production lines as well as the consolidation of Fiberweb’s Simpsonville, SC site into a smaller area. In June 2007, Fiberweb shut down two production lines—a narrow SMS line and a narrow spunbond line—in  Washougal, WA and in June closed an SMMMS barrier line, a spunbond line and a portion of a pilot line in Simpsonville. These closures followed the shutdown of Fiberweb’s Toronto facility, which included the transfer of one line to Mexico and one to Berlin, Germany, which fit more strategically with the company’s manufacturing infrastructure.
 
Additionally, in December Fiberweb sold its remaining stake in CNC, a manufacturer of spunbonded nonwovens, to its joint venture partner CPPC, a Bangkok, Thailand-based diversified plastics company with annual sales exceeding $13 billion. Based in Rayong, Thailand, CNC has been producing nonwovens since 1996.
 
More recently, Fiberweb announced in June it would close its Gray Court, SC plant, which contains a spunbond polyester production line, after efforts to improve the performance of this machine proved unsuccessful. Business on this line will be transitioned to other spunbond polyester lines at Fiberweb’s Old Hickory, TN facility.
 
And, in a further streamlining of its business, in March the company sold its hygiene wipes business to Ahlstrom for a reported €65 million. The sale included assets in Bethune, SC, Spain and Italy, including lines acquired in recent years from Tenotex and

Technofibra and representing about £83 million in annual sales for the company.
 
“In 2006, a strategic analysis of the global wipes business revealed overcapacity in spunlace capacity in Europe and the U.S. as well as a large number of small competitors,” said director of marketing and business development Raymond Dun­leavy. “Subsequently, Fiberweb announced its intention to address the poor performance of its hygiene wipes business which includes spunlace operations around the world. The options available included a rationalization of the existing business, acquisitions of small competitors to consolidate industry or the sale to another who would be consolidated. Management felt that the sale of the business to Ahlstrom was the best course for our shareholders and employees in the affected units.”
 
Amidst these closures and divestments, however, Fiberweb continues to invest in its business for future growth. According to Mr. Dunleavy, investment reached £51.4 million in 2006 and included a new 5.2 meter Reicofil spunbond line in Sweden, which is now onstream and running at full production, an airlaid line in Italy, a polyester recycling facility in Old Hickory, TN and investments in industrial sites in Brazil, the U.K. and Germany. Additionally, Fiberweb is underway with a new airlaid line in Tianjin, China, this plant’s second to serve feminine hygiene and adult incontinence customers. “Our global airlaid business is robust,” Mr. Dunleavy explained. “We have completed the installation and startup of a new state-of-the-art line in Italy and are now installing a second line in our plant in China. This capacity is targeted to the needs of our global hygiene customers that we already serve with spunmelt fabrics. A significant portion of this new capacity is now contracted.”
 
Fiberweb continues to focus the nonwovens division on two key areas—hygiene and industrial. In 2006, Fiberweb’s hygiene business declined in the U.S. due to the Sim­psonville and Washougal closures during 2006 while in Europe the company continued to enjoy a market leading position, which is being enhanced by the new Swedish line. And, according to reports, additional investment in spunmelt will be made in the near term to support future growth in hygiene globally. “Fiberweb is one of the few nonwovens manufacturers with a global presence in the hygiene business, which we consider a competitive advantage in meeting the needs of global diaper and feminine hygiene marketers,” Mr. Dunleavy added.
 
Also set to boost Fiberweb’s hygiene business is a new technology platform, currently under development, which will use low cost, sustainable raw materials. This technology will target both hygiene and industrial applications. “There is a growing awareness among consumers in the U.S. and Europe of our relationship with the planet and growing willingness to change habits and practices to be more environmentally responsible,” Mr. Dunleavy explained.
 
Already, in April Fiberweb launched EcoFabrics, a line of nonwovens made from at least 50% renewable materials. The line features Ingeo fibers made from NatureWorks PLA resin and includes carded thermal and resin bonded nonwovens manufactured in Europe as well as unique bicomponent PP/PLA spunbond fabrics made in the U.S. Executives expect key applications for EcoFabrics to include food packaging and hygiene as well as a number of other traditional nonwovens markets.
 
Meanwhile, the other leg of Fiberweb’s business, Industrial, grew 5% in 2006. Moving forward, executives expect to see growth continue in filtration applications but level off in construction due to weakness in the U.S. housing market. “Fiberweb enjoys strong technical, brand and marketshare positions in important segments of the large and growing market for industrial nonwoven fabrics, particularly filtration and the specialty construction segments. Our best prospects lie in these segments where technical differentiation, close customer contact, branding and innovation are valued,” Mr. Dunleavy said. “In addition, we continue to gain marketshare with the superior performance properties of our product line, even in the declining housing market.”
 
In the weather protection market—an area considered prime for growth—Fiberweb has developed two new products. Typar MetroWrap is Fiberweb’s first introduction to the commercial market for Weather Resistant Barriers and Weather Protection Systems. MetroWrap is specifically designed for the needs of the commercial market with 12 months resistance to UV exposure and extra durability for high wind applications. Typar StormWrap is designed to withstand extreme weather conditions and protect building occupants from flying debris in high wind conditions such as those experienced during hurricanes.
 
“Fiberweb continues to find other new applications for the Typar product line in areas where its tensile strength and rigidity add value,” Mr. Dunleavy said. “New products range from earth-filled, quick deployment barriers for military and emergency response markets to long-lasting can separator pads for the beverage industry.”
 
In geotextiles, Fiberweb’s Terram operation in Pontypool, U.K. has developed new applications for traditional geotextile fabrics in civil and military defense programs. This development program began with highly engineered applications for road building and slope stablilization and has also found applications in novel, rapidly deployed geotextile barriers, used to create a safer work environment for fuel depots, fleet support and various other military field applications.
 
Moving forward, Fiberweb will continue to examine its business for strengths as well as the nonwovens industry for its needs to plan for future growth. In fact, quicker response to the demands of the global nonwovens industry has been one of the key benefits of being separated from the BBA Group, according to Mr. Dunleavy. “The pace of decision making at Fiberweb has increased since our separation from the BBA Group in November 2006,” he said.
 
“Fiberweb’s strategic intent is to create and sustain value by exploiting and developing our strengths in nonwovens and aggressively addressing our weaknesses,” he added. “An example of this is the divestiture of the wipes business earlier this year.”"

Location: LONDON, U.K.

Sales: $948 million

Description: Key Personnel
Daniel Dayan, CEO, Carsten Heldmann, head of global research and development; David Keough, global commercial director; Alberto Gaudiano, global finance director; Gary Drews, director North American operations; Derek Chan, managing director, airlaid; John Juric, head of Americas industrial division.

Plants
Green Bay, WI; Queretaro, Mexico; Old Hickory, TN; Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil; Simpsonville, SC; Washougal, WA; Tianjin, China; Biesheim, France; Aschersleben, Germany; Berlin, Germany; Trezzano Rosa, Italy; Pontypool, U.K.; Norrköping, Sweden; Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia (JV); Port Elizabeth, South Africa (JV); Peine, Germany; Peregallo di Lesmo, Italy, Terno d’Isola, Italy

Processes
Chemical bonded, thermal bonded, meltblown, sorbent composites, bicomponent spunbond, airlaid, air through air bonded

Major Markets
Construction and ground contact, consumer care, filtration, hygiene, medical and protective markets, industrial specialties, sorbent materials

During the year-and-a-half since it separated itself from parent company The BBA Group, Fiberweb has worked at streamlining its global business by exiting certain businesses, restructuring others and investing in areas where it sees successes for the future. In 2007, sales in continuing operations decreased from £500 million to £473 million. Operating profit meanwhile decreased from £27 million to £13.8 million.
 
Despite these decreases, officials reported that its turnaround program, announced during its demerger, is continuing, establishing a sound foundation for progress moving forward. Additionally, underlying gross margin and operating margin recovery in the second half was driven by Fiberweb’s industrial operations as hygiene has been under pressure from raw material price increases. Growth in Fiberweb’s industrial business increased 4.6% at constant currency and this segment now accounts for 42% of group sales, up from 32% in 2005.
 
“2007 was a challenging first year as a public company,” said CEO Daniel Dayan. “We continued to pursue the turnaround program outlined at demerger and have made progress in maintaining growth in our differentiated industrial businesses and simplifying the hygiene portfolio.”
 
In May, Fiberweb announced cost-cutting efforts that included the streamlining of leadership in its European hygiene business. The company’s European hygiene business is now being led directly by Mr. Dayan; Carsten Heldmann, head of global research and development has been appointed global key account director of Fiberweb’s important relationship with Procter & Gamble.
 
Gianluigi Fornoni, president hygiene Europe and Pieter Meijer, sales and marketing director hygiene Europe, have left Fiberweb.
   
On the industrial side, Hans-Jörg Oberberg, president Europe industrial, will add Fiberweb’s European filtration activities to his existing responsibilities.
   
Also included in this plan was a streamlining of Fiberweb’s research and development activities in two locations—Old Hickory, TN and Peine, Germany. Research and development activities in Simpsonville, SC will cease by the end of the year.
 
In July, Fiberweb took another step to reorganize its business when it created global business units for its consumer fabrics and airlaid divisions. The global Consumer Fabrics business unit is being led by Mr. Dayan and incorporates the European and North American spunmelt and carded facilities, including dryer sheets. The leadership team includes David Keough, previously Americas hygiene commercial vice president who has been appointed global commercial director, and Alberto Gaudiano, who will serve as  global finance director. The North American operations will be directed by Gary Drews, who was previously plant manager of Fiberweb’s Washougal, WA facility.
 
Meanwhile, the global airlaid business—including three lines on two continents—will incorporate the Asian airlaid producer, Fiberweb China Airlaid and the Korma, Italy businesses.  Derek Chan, president of Fiberweb Asia, has been promoted to managing director of airlaid, in addition to his current responsibilities for Asia Industrial.
 
Fiberweb’s important Americas Industrial will now be a separate business unit, led by John Juric, previously Fiberweb Americas vice president of finance.
 
As result of these changes, Dave Rousse, president Americas, and Dean Hilmer, vice president of operations, left Fiberweb.
 
These moves will finally give Fiberweb the global coordination and streamlining necessary to be competitive in the challenging and evolving markets for hygiene fabrics, as well as the regional and customer focus required for success in differentiated industrial nonwovens markets, according to Mr. Dayun.
 
Amidst these streamlining measures, Fiberweb has also exited certain businesses that no longer make sense for it. In May, Fiberweb sold its 15% interest in Saudi German Nonwovens Products Company (SGN) to its joint venture partners Zamil Group Holding Company and Al-Rajhhi House Enterprises for a cash consideration of $7.28 million. One month earlier, the company sold its wholly-owned Brazilian subsidiary Fiberweb Bidim for £16.6 million. Bidim manufactures standard polyester nonwovens for use in geotextiles, roofing and footwear markets from a manufacturing site near Sao Paulo.
 
These recent divestments follow last year’s sale of Fiberweb’s consumer wipes business to Ahlstrom, which included assets in Bethune, SC, Spain and Italy, for a reported €65 million. At the time of this sale, Fiberweb officials reported that an analysis of the global wipes business revealed overcapacity in spunlace supply in Europe and the U.S. and selling it to another producer was determined to be a viable option for the business unit.
 
Also in 2007, Fiberweb launched a restructuring of its North American business including the closure of older productions and the consolidation of its Simpsonville, SC site into a smaller area. In June 2007, Fiberweb shut down two production lines—a narrow SMS line and a narrow spunbond line—in Washougal, WA and closed an SMMMS barrier line, a spunbond line and a  portion of a pilot line in Simpsonville. These closures followed the shutdown of a Toronto facility, which includes the transfer of one line to Mexico and one to Berlin, Germany.
 
Fiberweb also exited two joint venture agreements—a spunbond operation in Thailand called CNC and Advanced Design Concepts, an operation dedicated to the development of stretchable nonwovens technology with Dow—and shut down an older spunbond polyester line in Gray Court, SC.
 
Amidst these sales and closures, one area receiving top billing for Fiberweb is airlaid with the completion of two recent investments—in China and Italy—as well as the creation of a separate business unit dedicated to the technology.
In June, Fiberweb celebrated the official commercial launch of the second airlaid line at its China-based Tianjin Teda factory in a special ceremony.
 
Boasting an annual capacity of 10,000 tons, the highly flexible production line produces thermal bond, multibond, latex bond and SAP nonwovens in 2100 mm widths with a 200-meter line speed. The line will target hygiene applications as well as specialty industrial uses and household products such as wipes and food packaging. Meanwhile, Fiberweb’s new airlaid line in Peregallo di Lesmo, Italy is now operational and is being integrated into the European hygiene business.

In addition to its airlaid investment, Fiberweb is upping it presence in Asia with two separate joint venture agreements in China and India made in February. In China, Fiberweb is investing $2.5 million in a 30-year joint venture with Tianjin Hengguan Nonwoven Company Limited, a Chinese spunbonded polyester manufacturer. Fiberweb will own 65% of the venture, which will benefit from Fiberweb's expertise in polyester spunbond fabrics.
 
In India, Fiberweb has formed a joint venture with a group of local individual investors, which will establish the first premium geotextile manufacturer in India, exploiting Fiberweb’s Terram brand of geotextiles. Under the terms of the agreement, Fiberweb will upgrade and sell its currently idled Terram line, located in Pontypool, U.K., to the joint venture and allow it to license the Terram trademark. Fiberweb will own 26% of the venture and will receive £1.35 million in cash for the line and the license. The upgraded Terram line is expected to be relocated to a new site by the first quarter of 2009.
 
By focusing on divesting and exiting businesses that are no longer a perfect fit to its business plan and investing and supporting areas deemed important to its future growth, Fiberweb has become a leaner, more efficient operation than it was when it separated from the BBA Group in late 2006. Moving forward, the company—which earlier this year was the subject of a potential purchase by Avgol until the Israeli nonwovens producer found it difficult to get financing for the purchase—will focus on functioning as its own entity.

Location: LONDON, U.K.


Sales: $947 Million


Description: Key Personnel
Daniel Dayan, CEO; Dan Abrams, CFO; Ian Barnes, president, Consumer Fabrics; Derek Chan, president Asia/Pacific: John Juric, president, Americas Industrial division; Paul Glover, Managing Director Terram; Hans Jörg Oberberg, president, European Industrial division

Plants
Green Bay, WI;Old Hickory, TN;Simpsonville, SC; Tianjin, China; Biesheim, France; Aschersleben, Germany; Berlin, Germany; Trezzano Rosa, Italy; Pontypool, U.K.; Norrköping, Sweden; Port Elizabeth, South Africa (JV); Peine, Germany;Terno d’Isola, Italy;

Processes
Chemical bonded, thermal bonded, meltblown, bicomponent spunbond, airlaid, air through bonded, spunbond, composites

Major Markets
Construction and ground contact, consumer care, filtration, baby and adult diapers, hygiene, medical and protective markets, industrial specialties, femcare

Reporting a decrease of 3% was Fiberweb whose 2008 sales were £512 million due largely to softness in its industrial markets. “Hygiene is a pretty defensive market,” said CEO Daniel Dayan. “There can be some lower usages or also some trade down from mid-tier brands to lowertier ones, but much of the softness we saw was in our industrial markets, particularly those that have to do with construction.”

During the same time, earnings tripled, a continuance of a turnaround begun during the second half of 2007.

A key component of this plan was the shuttering of older spunmelt lines, first in the U.S., and more recently in Europe when Fiberweb said it would shut down an older line in Norrkoping, Sweden and cut output at sites in Peine, Germany and Biesheim, France as its high speed, state-of-the-art spunmelt line at its Trezzano Rosa, Italy site was completed. These measures were expected to keep Fiberweb’s spunbond capacity in Europe broadly constant while increasing its average capacity per line by around 50% compared to first half 2008.

These moves follow the closure of two spunmelt lines in Washougal, WA as well as an SMS line, a spunbond line and a portion of a pilot line in Simpsonville, SC in mid-2007 as well as the shutdown of a Toronto line earlier that year.

“The old BBA did not invest efficiently in spunmelt but since 2006 we have worked piece by piece to reinvest,” Mr. Dayan said. These latest efforts in Europe will lessen the Fiberweb workforce by about 120 but newer, more efficient lines in Sweden and Italy will allow the company’s European spunmelt capacity to remain level.

These streamlining measures had been planned since Fiberweb gained independence from its parent company, The BBA Group, three years ago.

“We haven’t done anything directly in response to the economic crisis,” Mr. Dayan explained. “What we have done is continue the structuring efforts started in 2006. The only result is that we may have accelerated some of those efforts in response to the crisis.”

Characterizing the European market as too crowded and too fragmented, Mr. Dayan blames current conditions on overinvestment in the past. “To remain competitive, the smaller players had to invest in more modern machinery or get out of the market. Too many companies opted to invest.”

In North America, Fiberweb’s solution to fragmentation is a joint venture partnership. This summer, the company’s board approved a plan to form a joint venture with Brazilian producer Fitesa—a company with firm plans to invest in North America— about combining the two companies’ American hygiene businesses, including Fitesa’s planned North American investment, its recently heavily-invested Brazilian operation and Fiberweb’s facilities in Washougal, WA and Queretaro, Mexico.

“We see this as a clever way to enable consolidation when it’s hard to get financing,” Mr. Dayan said. “It gives us access to South America at a great cost base and investment in North America at half the price, while giving Fitesa efficient access to North America, technology and global customers.”

The new joint venture company is set to be the second largest maker of spunmelt nonwovens in the Americas. Fiberweb’s spunmelt assets outside of the Americas as well as its nonwovens technologies beyond spunmelt were not impacted by the venture.

Another technology that continues to be important to Fiberweb is airlaid. As China’s largest producer of airlaid nonwovens with two lines in Tianjin, China, Fiberweb continues to be committed to this market despite a recent decision to close a fairly new line at its Korma, Italy site. The line, which was ordered with the intent to go after some feminine hygiene business formerly supplied by older Fiberweb technology. When the customer decided to change its product to airlaid, Fiberweb opted to invest in a new line to serve it. Unfortunately, the new line was unable to achieve the economies necessary for its customers for a number of reasons.

Location: London, U.K.

Sales: $800 million

Description: Key Personnel
Daniel Dayan, CEO; Dan Abrams, CFO; Ian Barnes, president, Consumer Fabrics; Derek Chan, president, Asia;  John Juric, president, Americas Industrial division; Paul Glover, managing director, Terram; Hans Jörg Oberberg, president, European Industrial division

Plants

Green Bay, WI; Old Hickory, TN; Simpsonville, SC; Tianjin, China; Biesheim, France; Aschersleben, Germany; Königswinter, Germany; Berlin, Germany; Trezzano Rosa, Italy; Pontypool, U.K.; Norrköping, Sweden; Port Elizabeth, South Africa (JV); Peine, Germany;Terno d’Isola, Italy; Washougal, WA (JV); Queretaro, Mexico (JV); Gravatai, Brazil (JV)

Processes
Chemical bonded, thermal bonded, meltblown, bicomponent spunbond, airlaid, air through  bonded, spunbond and composites

Major Markets
Construction and ground contact, consumer care, filtration, baby and adult diapers, hygiene, medical and protective markets, industrial specialties, femcare

Sales decreased significantly for British nonwovens producer Fiberweb on lower average raw material prices as well as the incorporation of two of its major facilities into its joint venture with Brazilian roll goods producer Fitesa. The company's 2009 reported sales were $692 million (£454 million) but by adding its half stake in the FitesaFiberweb joint venture, sales for the period were more like $800 million, according to CEO Daniel Dayan.
And, despite raw material price challenges and a difficult global economy, Fiberweb was able to increase its profits 23% and its earnings per share 30%, continuing a trend that has been consistent during the last two-and-a-half years for the company. “Fibeweb has benefitted from improved asset and labor productivity as well as from the benefit of recent major investments in meltblown capacity, polyester recycling capacity as well as two recent Reicofil 4 investments in Europe,” Mr. Dayan explained.
Since 2006, Fiberweb has worked to increase its productivity. This has meant line closures in the U.S. and Europe, the divestment of underperforming businesses and investment in higher speed, more efficient lines. These efforts have decreased sales somewhat and lessened the size of the company’s global workforce but, at the same time, profits have increased significantly.  Investment in research and development has been significantly increased, with additional development personnel in Europe, Asia and North America.  A new R&D center and major pilot line facility is currently under construction at Old Hickory, TN and is expected to be operational in early 2011.
Another part of its new business model is focusing on business areas with competitive advantages, exiting areas where it was not the technology or commercial leader and creating new partnerships in which it can showcase its expertise in nonwovens technology. The first such partnership is the aforementioned FitesaFiberweb agreement, established last year, which combined Fiberweb’s spunmelt operations in Washington and Mexico with Fitesa’s assets in Brazil as well as a planned expansion in Simpsonville, SC.  Already, the venture’s sales are about $200 million, a number that is expected to jump significantly when the first new North American line comes onstream during the first quarter of 2011.
Output from this new line, a bicomponent Reicofil 4 line, will be located at the joint venture’s headquarters in Simpsonville, SC, where it will largely serve the U.S. market which is currently relying heavily on imports, according to Mr. Dayan. Looking ahead, a second Reicofil 4 line, although not yet finalized, is likely to be constructed at the site. “We certainly expect to make further investments and we are exploring a number of options.”
Even before the first line is complete, the joint venture, which gave Fiberweb access to Fitesa’s Brazilian capacity, creating a much improved supply network  is performing well, Mr. Dayan added. “The integration of the two businesses is going very well. It’s been much faster than expected.”
As the agreement with Fitesa is helping Fiberweb target markets within the Americas, the company is exploring a somewhat similar arrangement in Asia. In March, the company said it was working with Japanese nonwovens producer Chisso to explore the possibility of establishing a joint venture company to produce spunmelt nonwovens in China using the latest generation of spunmelt technology largely for the Asian hygiene market. Unlike the agreement with Fitesa, this partnership would only involve a brand new facility containing a specialty spunmelt line, Mr. Dayan explained. “This would be a good way to enter the Chinese spunbond market that limits risk,” he said, noting that it is still at the analysis stage. “There is a shortage of high quality products in China as this market continues to develop rapidly and is a major consumer of sophisticated spunmelt products.”
While it has not yet established any sort of spunmelt operation in Asia—despite its commitment to the technology—Fiberweb has been present in China for nearly a decade with airlaid nonwovens. The company currently operates two airlaid lines in Tianjin, China, an operation that performs well despite a large number of local converters, which are having an impact on branded femcare players—Fiberweb’s core customer base. According to Mr. Dayan, the company is exploring the possibility of adding an industrial spunmelt line to the operation.
Beyond that, growth in the developed world might well involve joint ventures, Mr. Dayan said. As in China with Chisso and Brazil with Fitesa, it simply makes more sense for Fiberweb to find ways to enter markets with less risk and more technological and customer knowledge. “There is much potential in areas such as India, Africa and the Middle East,” he added. “Our goal is to seek to satisfy our customers where they see demand growth.”
Moving toward industrial applications, this side of Fiberweb’s business was severely impacted in places by the economic crises, especially sales of products aimed at construction markets. “We have seen markets stabilize but are not yet calling the turn,” Mr. Dayan said. “Overall, I would characterize Fiberweb’s industrial business as serving multiple niche markets with differentiated products.”
Some of the areas where Fiberweb is seeing the most growth opportunities include construction and filtration where growth is being driven by the superior performance of its nonwoven products as well as by increased regulatory and customer requirements which are driving increased consumption—unlike in the hygiene market where growth is more dependent on demographics.
Fiberweb’s filtration business is set to receive a boost from a new meltblown line in Beisheim, France, which came onstream earlier this year to increase the company’s role in several air filtration markets including face masks, respirators and HVAC applications. However, amidst this investment, Fiberweb has also been busy streamlining its filtration portfolio—continuing its policy of exiting businesses  where it does not consider itself a technology leader. In January, the company sold its small AQF line of patented carbon-containing composite filtration media to Hollingsworth & Vose. The technology combines particulate and gas phase filtration in one media to meet demanding customer adsorption requirements in panel, extended surface and vbank filters for odor control, corrosion control, toxic gas removal and elimination of airborne pollutants for Industrial, IAQ and Cabin Air applications.
 Meanwhile, Fiberweb’s construction business, while hit by the economic situation, continues to roll out a number of interesting new products. These include the Surround SR Underlayment, a new tear-resistant roofing underlayment that offers secondary protection against moisture intrusion. Made from a waterproof, synthetic polymer material, Surround SR is designed to reduce the amount and weight of material needed to cover the roof.
Within geotextiles, Typar Matrix 3-D Geotextiles, is a new patent pending generation of three-dimensional geotextile products designed to reduce soil erosion and help meet recently introduced Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Construction and Development efluent limit guidelines. Typar Matrix 3-D Geotextiles is an innovative passive treatment system designed to work with silt fence, straw wattles and other traditional practices to ensure compliance with the new, more stringent, regulation.
Whether it’s responding to new regulations—like in construction, geotextiles and filtration—or chasing down new regional markets, Fiberweb remains focused on expanding its business in areas where it can develop added-value, differentiated products and services. “Fiberweb is committed to delivering both short-term and long-term growth through the development of sophisticated and differentiated products that meet or exceed customer needs,” Mr. Dayan said. “Therefore, continued expansion of investment in research and development are as essential as the sales and marketing resources required to take new products to market.”

Editor’s Note: Fiberweb’s $800 million annual sales figures includes sales related to its joint venture with Fitesa, FitesaFiberweb. Last year, sales for Fitesa, which is not a part of this year’s report, were $103 million.





London, U.K.
www.fiberweb.com
2011 Nonwovens Sales: $465 million

Key Personnel: Daniel Dayan, CEO; Kate Miles, group finance director

Plants: Old Hickory, TN; Aschersleben, Germany; Berlin, Germany; Pontypool, U.K.; Maldon, U.K.; Aberdare, U.K.; Terno d’Isola, Italy; Melbourne, Australia

Processes: Thermal bonded, air-through bonded, spunbond, needlepunch, meltblown, lamination, film

Major Markets: Filtration, geosynthetics, medical specialties, crop cover, tree shelters, dryer sheets, adult incontinence components, housewrap, roofing underlayments, grass protection

Big changes have taken place at Fiberweb over the past half-decade. During this time, the company has evolved from a large-scale nonwovens player strong in polypropylene-based spunmelt products geared toward hygiene applications—with sites around the world—to a smaller, more focused maker of specialty fabrics.

The biggest change came at the end of 2011 when the London-based company sold the majority of its commodity hygiene business to its former joint venture partner Petropar, the Brazilian owner of Fitesa, for a reported $286 million (see more on Fitesa on page 50). The deal, which was finalized December 30, included plants around the world and infused Fiberweb with a strong cash position.

The new organization, which CEO Daniel Dayan now describes as a specialty materials company rather than a nonwovens maker, reports its annual sales at about $465 million and is predicting growth to be in the 3-5% for the year. Meanwhile, stock market analysts predict that earnings should rise from $16 million to $23 million.

“We don’t describe ourselves as a nonwovens business but as a specialty materials business,” says Dayan. “We now do a long list of things to fine-tune fabrics for customers like coating and laminating on fabrics.”

Following the hygiene divestment, Fiberweb now operates through two main divisions: Technical Fabrics and Geosynthetics. Technical Fabrics comprises the group’s former Americas and European industrial businesses, as well as the remaining hygiene businesses in France and Italy. It is the larger of the two divisions, comprising five production sites and about 900 employees.

Meanwhile, the Geosynthetics business was created from Fiberweb’s existing Terram geotextile business, the 2011 acquisitions of Tubex and Boddingtons, as well as existing geotextile and construction businesses in the U.S. This division includes sites in Maldon, Essex and Aberdare, U.K., plus housewrap and tree shelter production at Old Hickory, TN, in North America.

While much of the company’s business now lies in industrial and technical markets like construction, filtration and geotextiles, about one-third of sales are within remaining hygiene businesses, mainly comprising specialty spunbond and carded materials that mostly go into adult incontinence, rather than baby care applications, as well as specialty polyester spunbond for dryer sheets.

Included in the sale were FitesaFiberweb-owned spunmelt manufacturing sites in Washington, South Carolina, Mexico and Peru, as well as Fiberweb spunmelt operations in Sweden, Germany and Italy, and an airlaid plant in Tianjin, China. Fiberweb continues to operate specialty nonwovens sites in the U.S. and Europe, as well as a small operation in Australia.

“The affect of the sale of the business has been more focus,” Dayan says. “We are now very focused on technical fabrics, specialty, filtration, niche areas like aerospace, fiber-reinforced plastics, automotives, medical and filtration. We are operating in a less broad area so it’s easy to focus and prioritize investments. The other thing is instead of debt we now have a lot of cash.”

That’s not to say, however, that Fiberweb is hot to spend all that capital. At the time of the sale, the company said it would take at least 18 months to determine the direction major future investments would take. Whether the direction will be acquisition, capital investment or return to shareholders has yet to be determined.

As it considers its options, Fiberweb has continued to invest moderately in its business, allotting about $23 million last year in new capital. Among its latest investments is an upgrade to a breathable film line in Aschersleben, Germany, to allow for the development of new medical products; a thermal air-through bonding line in Terno d’Isola, Italy, that has helped reduce costs at the site; and a new generation needlepunch line in Maldon, U.K., which replaces an old specialty spunbond line that will close by the end of this year. Also, in late 2011, Fiberweb upgraded a spunbond line in Berlin, Germany, to feature state-of-the-art inline printing and converting equipment that offers seamless end-to-end processing from the granule to the final packaged goods for the European roofing market.

In other investment news, Fiberweb’s Old Hickory, TN, pilot line has allowed the company to make small quantities of polyester nonwovens for trials in areas like filtration where volumes can be small and samples can be expensive. Meanwhile, a recently opened research and development center in Maldon, U.K., is being seen as a center of innovation, but there are no current plans to add pilot capabilities there.

While Technical Fabrics is much larger, Fiberweb’s Geosynthetics division shows great prospects. The division posted an impressive 15% increase in 2011, fueled largely by two major acquisitions, Boddingtons and Tubex, both of which have been well integrated and are performing as expected. Additional growth is being driven by a new tree shelter line in Old Hickory, which is serving the forestry and viticulture industry in the U.S.

“We like the civil engineering accessory place, there are good margins and we expect to keep growing,” Dayan says. “We have a long way to go before we exploit the full potential of the business.”

Also benefitting this side of the business is a new line in Maldon, which gives Fiberweb the ability to make products ranging from 70-1,200 gsm, offering a product range that is more differentiated and flexible than spunbond.

As it continues to find strength in a narrower focus, Fiberweb continues to lack in one area, its global president admits. The sale of the hygiene assets left Fiberweb without a significant presence in Latin America or Asia, something he calls a downside to the disposal.

“We sell a lot of materials into Asia, India, the Middle East and Russia, but it’s not the same as having your own site and this is something we certainly want to do,” says Dayan. “Whatever we do in those markets, we will aim to be very focused. It has to be something we think we can make good money on.”

For now, Fiberweb will continue to remain true to its new branding strategy—“The Next Answer”—which has been created to reflect the direction of the company toward global technical fabrics and geosynthetics.

“We will continue to change the orientation of the business toward our customers,” Dayan says. “What we need to do now is deliver two or three years of solid improving results and prove that the specialty materials tag is justified.”
London, U.K.
www.fiberweb.com
2012 Nonwovens Sales: $460 million
 
Key Personnel: Daniel Dayan, CEO; Kate Miles, group finance director
 
Plants: Old Hickory, TN; Aschersleben, Germany; Berlin, Germany; Pontypool, U.K.; Maldon, U.K.; Aberdare, U.K.; Terno d’Isola, Italy; Mundra, India, Biesheim, France
 
Processes: Thermal bonded, air-through bonded, spunbond, needlepunch, meltblown, lamination, film, extrusion
 
Major Markets: Filtration, geosynthetics, medical specialties, crop covers, tree shelters, dryer sheets, adult incontinence components, housewrap, roofing underlayments, grass protection
 
Continuing its goal of becoming a specialty materials company, London, UK-based Fiberweb has been focusing on growth across its two divisions—technical fabrics and geosynthetics. The larger of the two divisions, technical fabrics comprises the company’s former Americas and European industrial business as well as remaining hygiene businesses in France and Italy. Meanwhile, geosynthetics combines Fiberweb’s Terram business, the 2011 acquisitions of Tubex and Boddingtons as well as existing geotextile and construction businesses in the U.S. and includes sites in Maldon, Essex and Aberdare, U.K., as well as the new acquisition of Terram India at Mundra, Gujarat, India and housewrap and tree shelter production lines in Old Hickory, TN.
 
In 2012, nonwovens sales were primarily flat as growth in the North American construction and landscape fabrics market offset challenges in the European construction market as well as in the geosynthetics business in the U.K. and continental Europe. “We haven’t seen a turnaround in 2013,” says CEO Daniel Dayan. “I would say sales have been flat. It’s not declining the way it did last year. Of course, some of this is the negative impact of the long winter in North America.”
 
In spite of these challenges, Dayan says he is still happy with the company’s performance. “We did very well growing the bottom line. We grew earnings strongly. We achieved great volumes. We are in a nice position with no debt and we have a lot of cash thanks to the hygiene sales at the end of 2011.”
 
The sale, of course, is Fiberweb’s divestment of much of its hygiene business to former joint venture partner Fitesa in late 2011. The $286 million sale encompassed Fiberweb’s stake in the FitesaFiberweb joint venture, including manufacturing sites in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, as well as Fiberweb’s hygiene spunbond operations in Germany, Italy and Sweden and two airlaid lines in Tianjin, China.
 
Overnight, the sale transformed Fiberweb from a major player in the hygiene market into a streamlined company heavily focused on specialty materials and bringing innovation to market.
 
“This has absolutely been the right strategy for us,” Dayan says. “It has led to better differentiation by working with the customers on what they need. This is the journey we are on. It’s not unique but it’s absolutely the right strategy.”
 
In June 2013, Fiberweb continued to divest its hygiene assets, selling a specialized resin-bond hygiene line at Terno d’Isola in Italy to Fitesa for €3 million. The sale, which had been planned for some time, will reduce second half 2013 sales by €3.5 million, according to the company.
 
Even as the strategy toward specialty materials continues to pay off, Dayan says he would like to see faster growth in filtration and some other specialty areas like composites and digital printing. “We would like to see quicker getting innovation to market. We have some great projects underway but it takes a long time to get it to market.”
 
During the past 18 months, Fiberweb has made several investments to help it achieve its goals. These include the expansion of a breathable fi lm line in Aschersleben, Germany, which has allowed Fiberweb to expand its microporous film production for roofing and medical applications, a new airthrough bonding line in Italy as well as a new needlepunch line in the U.K.
 
The new U.K. line features technology that has allowed Fiberweb to meet demand for heavier geotextiles while at the same time achieving greater flexibility than with spunbond. One example of a new product being made on the new line is a fivelayer geocomposite for the rail industry that can be placed under high-speed lines in areas with clay subsoils.
 
“That is a good example of where we are listening to customers,” he says. “The result is that we are seeing innovation on both sides of the business. There is a lot of stuff in filtration and composites for technical fabrics in our pipeline.”
 
If there is one area where the new Fiberweb is a little behind its former self is in its global footprint. Before the sale to Fitesa, Fiberweb had a strong Asian presence with a large airlaid operation in China. Today, its only real Asian operation is Terram, a joint venture within the geotextiles market in Gujarat, India. In July, Fiberweb announced it had increased its stake in the venture from 26% to 65% to enable expansion at the plant with the addition of a value-added manufacturing line. The investment was valued at €2 million.
 
Terram India was started in 2012 with a geotextile spunbond line relocated from Fiberweb’s Terram operations in the U.K. The unique Terram spunbond process produces strong, lightweight geotextiles and has long been a key component in many leading geocomposites, being utilized as a trusted element in road, rail and building foundations, as well as many other construction projects. According to Fiberweb, the line is currently supplying Fiberweb in the U.K. along with several Fiberweb customers in the Middle East, South America, Asia and Africa and is well placed to deliver strategic benefit from the growing Indian market.
 
Beyond India, Fiberweb is looking at other areas for expansion, particularly in other emerging markets, but decisions on where to go will not be made lightly.
 
“Wherever we go we would like to have a close to leadership position in some areas of the industry,” Dayan says. “We are not satisfied with a me-too presence and we would rather be a leader where we can differentiate ourselves.”