Nonwovens Industry
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Fitesa


Location: Gravatai, Brazil

Sales: $37 million

Description: ´╗┐Plant Locations
Gravataí, Rio Grande do Sul state, and Horizonte, Ceará state, Brazil

Key Personnel
Silvério Baranzano, director; Daniel Svirski, sales and marketing manager durables; Rene Ruschel, sales and marketing manager disposables; José Marin, sales and marketing manager, hygienic disposables

ISO Status
ISO 9002

Processes
Spunbonded, SMS, meltblown and carded thermalbonded nonwovens

Brand Names
Novotex

Major Markets
Hygienic disposables, medical disposables, filtration, agriculture, furniture and bedding.

Brazilian nonwovens manufacturer Fitesa last year started up a new production line for value-added medical composite nonwovens and expanded its hygienic disposable nonwovens capacity, together adding 4000 metric tons of capacity. The company’s total nonwovens capacity including spunbond, meltblown and carded is now 22,000 metric tons per year. Fitesa also manufactures 12,000 metric tons per year of polypropylene staple fibers for needlepunched and thermal bonded nonwovens.
 
This year, Fitesa’s investment drive is focused on a new spunmelt line with a capacity of 15,000 metric tons per year. The line will be installed at the company’s facility in Gravataí, in Rio Grande do Sul state and is expected to start-up in during the second half of 2006. This line will be designed to manufacture hygienic disposables such as topsheet and leg-cuff roll goods, medical fabrics and other special applications. It will feature a multiple beam Reicofil 4 with microdenier features which will allow the line to be upgraded at a later stage according to new market requirements.
 
The output from the new Reicofil line will serve growing demands in the Americas for advanced hygienic disposable fabrics, including Brazilian, Mercosur and North American markets. By segment, disposable masks and gowns in the medical segment, as well as civil engineering applications, are expected to account for 35% of Fitesa’s net income this year, nearly a four-fold increase compared to 2003 income for the same segments.
 
Brazil accounted for 77% of all Fitesa sales in 2004, according to Herminio Freitas, a director of Fitesa and the outlook for growth in the Brazilian economy bodes well for the company.   Nonwovens sales revenues in the Mercosur countries—including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay—amounted to 10% of total Fitesa sales last year, Mr. Freitas noted. Fitesa exports to the rest of the world amounted to 13% of total sales last year, strengthened in part by the stronger Brazilian currency, the real, at least in dollar terms. The real should end 2005 trading at about 2.5 to one dollar, compared with a high of 3.53 in 2002.
Location: GRAVATAI, BRAZIL

Sales: $103 million

Description: ´╗┐Plant Locations
Gravatai, Brazil; North America

Processes
Spunmelt, meltblown

Major Markets
Hygiene, medical, industrial, filtration, sorbents

Nonwovens sales of $103 million are set to grow higher at Brazil’s Fitesa. In April, the Gravatai-based company, a subsidiary of Petropar S.A., announced plans to invest $120 million in North America with an eye on the hygiene, medical and industrial markets. The new venture will produce high quality, fine denier, lightweight fabrics on two production lines, which have already been ordered. The first line is scheduled to be complete in October 2009 when construction on the second line will begin.
 
The two U.S. lines will together make 40,000 tons of spunmelt nonwovens, the same amount that Fitesa currently makes in Brazil. “We want to match our North American capacity with our South American capacity,” said Fernanda Gastal, director of marketing. “That is the future of our company.”
 
According to executives, the expansion is part of the company's long-term growth strategy and reassures Fitesa’s commitment to its customers within the NAFTA region. The company has extensive experience in the U.S. where it operated a production site in North Carolina from 1991 to 1995 before selling it to Polymer Group.
 
Fitesa’s interest in North America did not end when it sold its North Carolina plant. “We already have a customer base in North America and this will ease capacity on our South American lines to better serve those countries.”
 
Currently about 55-60% of Fitesa’s sales are targeted domestically; export regions include North America, Latin America, Europe and Africa. “NAFTA is our most important market in the world and it is a very competitive market,” Ms. Gastal said. “We are going in there with the best technology, which is what you need to compete.”
 
Fitesa was incorporated in 1973 as a fiber and textile company—parent company Petropar has its roots in forestry—and expanded into nonwovens production in 1989 when it became the first Latin American producer of spunmelt nonwovens. In 1991 it invested in the Mooresville, NC site, which it sold a few years later to narrow its focus on Brazil production.
 
Until 2005, Fitesa continued to operate its two existing spunmelt lines in Brazil. It was that year the company announced it would add a new Reicofil 4 line with a capacity of 15,000 tons per year in Brazil. This line was designed to manufacture hygienic disposable items such as topsheets and leg cuffs for disposable diapers, medical fabrics and other specialty applications.
 
According to executives, the line is a multiple beam state-of-the-art Reicofil 4 with microdenier features that will allow the line to be upgraded at a later stage according to new market requirements.
 
A similar line is currently coming onstream at the company’s Gravatai site. Also at this site are two meltblown lines that target the filtration and sorbents markets."
Location: GRAVATAI, BRAZIL


Sales: $103 Million


Description: Plants
Gravatai, Brazil; North America

Process
Spunmelt, meltblown

Major Markets
Hygiene, medical, industrial, filtration, sorbents

This is the last year Brazilian nonwovens producer Fitesa will appear in the top company report. The company merged its assets with Fiberweb’s North American business in a joint venture earlier this summer. From now on, the group’s results will be included in Fiberweb’s profile.

“Because combining Fiberweb’s spunbond plants in Washougal, WA, Queretaro, Mexico and Simpsonville, as well as Fitesa’s site in Gravatai, Brazil, the joint venture will create a leading producer of spunbond in the Americas with the potential to serve regional and global customers more effectively from its leading asset and technology base,” said Cleber dos Santos, sales manager and vice president,“the investment is targeted to meet the growing demand for sophisticated and ultra lightweight fabrics in North America. By combining the asset base and technology know-how, the joint venture will be able to achieve its value proposition in the short-term.”

The new joint venture company is the second largest maker of spunmelt nonwovens in the Americas with an estimated $200 million combined sales. Included in the deal is a previously announced Fitesa North American operation. This $120 million investment represents a two-line spunmelt operation in Laurens County, SC. When Fitesa announced these two lines in 2008, it said the first line would be complete in October 2009; however, more recent estimates put the startup in late 2010.

In Brazil, Fitesa operates several spunmelt lines targeting hygiene applications as well as two meltblown lines targeting the filtration and sorbents markets. Currently, about 55-60% of its sales are targeted domestically; export regions include North America, Latin America, Europe and Africa. While the North American operation— combined with the Fiberweb partnership will help the company gain exposure to U.S. customers, the company continues to see potential in its home region.

“Latin America keeps demand for nonwovens at an ascending rate, but not at the same rate observed in 2008,” Mr. dos Santos said. “There is a large opportunity in the hygiene and medical business in the region, once the penetration is low. For example, the baby diaper penetration in Brazil is around 35%."
Simpsonville, SC
www.fitesa.com
2011 Nonwovens Sales: $670 million

Key Personnel: Silverio Baranzano, CEO, Hal Singley, CFO

Plants: Gravatai, Brazil; Lima, Peru; Queretaro, Mexico; Simpsonville, SC; Green Bay, WI; Washougal, WA; Norrkoping, Sweden; Peine, Germany; Trezzano Rosa, Italy; Tianjin, China

Processes: Spunbond, SMS, bicomponent spunbond and SMS, meltblown, carded (chemical bonded, thermal bonded, air through bonded), airlaid, laminates

Major Markets: Hygiene, medical and industrial specialties (filtration, agricultural, sorbent)

Back in the fold this year is Fitesa, as a result of Petropar’s acquisition of Fiberweb’s hygiene-related assets in late 2011 in a reported $286 million deal. The investment should propel the Petropar-owned company’s sales to about $700 million up from about $160 million before the acquisition (Petropar’s share of the FitesaFiberweb joint ventures revenues).

Fitesa’s partnership with Fiberweb in the North and South American hygiene markets, which was formed in 2009, helped prepare it for this rapid expansion to become the second largest global spunmelt supplier. “The FitesaFiberweb exercise was a valuable template for the integration of this acquisition, which is proceeding in line with expectations,” says Ray Dunleavy, director of marketing.

Prior to the acquisition, FitesaFiberweb had spunmelt operations in Brazil, South Carolina, Washington and Mexico. The purchase included these assets as well as Fiberweb-owned spunmelt lines in Sweden, Germany and Italy, carding lines in Green Bay, WI, and Simpsonville, SC, as well as airlaid lines in Tianjin, China. The nonwovens research center in Peine, Germany, was also included in the acquisition.

The FitesaFiberweb joint venture had already announced plans to install a spunmelt line in Lima, Peru, as well as a carded line in Brazil. Both of these investments are on track to start contributing to results in the second half of 2012, Dunleavy says. “The spunmelt line in Lima will serve the growing demand from Fitesa’s hygiene customers on the Pacific coast of South America,” he adds. Meanwhile, the new carded line in Gravatai, Brazil—which will be both resin bond and air-through bond capable—will enable Fitesa to meet its customers’ demand for acquisition and distribution layers and other carded applications, including topsheets and backsheets.

In addition, FitesaFiberweb announced it would add two lines in North America when it was first formed in 2009: an SMS bicomponent spunmelt line, which started in 2011; and a second line in 2013-14. That plan has not changed.

As for Asia, this region continues to be on Fitesa’s radar. “It cannot be denied that Asia is an important and rapidly growing market for hygiene products. Fitesa already participates there with its airlaid business in China. We are staying alert for growth opportunities in the region,” Dunleavy says.

As it explores expansion in developing regions, Fitesa expects to see little growth in the next few years in developed regions like the U.S. and Western Europe, where increasing demand for adult incontinence products is being offset by declines in the demand for baby diapers, driven by declining birth rates and lower diaper usage. 
Simpsonville, SC
www.fitesa.com
2012 Nonwovens Sales: $712 million
 
Key Personnel:Silverio Baranzano, CEO, Hal Singley, CFO
 
Plants:Gravatai, Brazil; Lima, Peru; Queretaro, Mexico; Simpsonville, SC; Green Bay, WI; Washougal, WA; Norrkoping, Sweden; Peine, Germany; Trezzano Rosa, Italy; Tianjin, China
 
Processes:Spunbond, SMS, bicomponent spunbond and SMS, meltblown, carded (chemical bonded, thermal bonded, air through bonded), airlaid, laminates
 
Major Markets:Hygiene, medical and industrial specialties (fi ltration, agricultural, sorbent)
 
With new investments in Brazil and Peru onstream, Fitesa continues to expand its presence in the hygiene markets both in South America and around the globe. The U.S.-based nonwovens manufacturer has plants in North America, Europe and China as well as its strong South American presence.
 
In 2012, Fitesa expanded its operation in South Carolina, added a greenfield site near Lima, Peru to better serve customers west of the Andes, and started a new line in Brazil. These investments have already begun contributing to Fitesa’s sales and have helped the company expand its global reach in the hygiene market.
 
Other lines, previously owned by FitesaFiberweb, which are now fully owned by Fitesa, include assets in Brazil, South Carolina, Washington and Mexico. In addition to these lines, Fitesa also gained spunmelt lines in Germany, Italy and Sweden, carding lines in Wisconsin and South Carolina and airlaid lines in Tianjin, China as part of its $286 million purchase of Fiberweb’s hygiene related assets in late 2011. The sale boosted the Evora (formerly Petropar) owned company’s sales from about $160 million to $670 million in 2011 and $712 million in 2012. Ray Dunleavy, the company’s market strategy and business development director, says Fitesa’s partnership with Fiberweb, formed in 2009, helped prepare it to serve the global nonwovens industry.
 
“The joint venture with Fiberweb in 2009, which combined Fitesa’s Brazilian operations with Fiberweb’s North American spunmelt operations, provided the initial learning for expanding the Fitesa business model to new regions. This experience helped us to create the necessary systems and management practices to deal with Fitesa’s global footprint,” he says.
 
As for Asia, this region continues to be on Fitesa’s radar. Back when the company was still affiliated with Fiberweb, the joint venture announced that it was examining the possibility of adding a spunmelt operation in China in partnership with Japan’s JNC Nonwovens (formerly Chisso Corporation) but nothing has been said of this since the Fiberweb purchase. Still, Dunleavy admits that Asia is on its radar for growth when the right opportunity emerges.
 
“It cannot be denied that Asia is an important and rapidly growing market for hygiene products. Fitesa already participates there with its airlaid business in China. We are staying alert for growth opportunities in the region,” he says.
 
As it explores expansion in developing regions, Fitesa expects to see only modest growth in the next few years in developed regions like the U.S. and Western Europe, where increasing demand for adult incontinence products is retarded by declines in demand for baby diapers, driven by declining birth rates and lower diaper usage.
 
“Fitesa is an important participant as one of the top three players in the hygiene market in the Americas and Europe,” Dunleavy says. “We are constantly assessing opportunities, not only in those regions but also in other regions where we have presence, like Asia, or in new geographies, like Africa. Fitesa will always take investment decisions that present an opportunity to better serve our customers and shareholders.”