Nonwovens Industry
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TWE Group (Lohman)


Location: Dierdorf, Germany

Sales: $89 million

Description: Key Personnel
Michael Haddon, managing director

Plant
Dierdorf, Germany

ISO Status
ISO 9001

Processes
Dry laid, chemical bonded, thermal bonded, needlepunched, air through bonded

Brand Names
Paratherm, Paramoll, Paraskin, Paradur, Paraprint, Parabond, Parafil, Paratherm loft, Paraform

Major Markets
Automotive, interior decoration, gas and liquid filtration, medical, hygiene, roofing, shoe and leather goods, conveyor belts

Under new ownership this year is nonwovens producer Lohmann Vliesstoffe GmbH, Dierdorf, Germany, whose roll goods sales have increased significantly thanks to its alliance with needlepunch producer TWE Group, Emsdetten, Germany. TWE purchased Lohmann, a producer of drylaid, chemical bonded, resin bonded, needlepunched and air through bonded nonwovens, in July 2001. Additionally, Lohmann has experienced organic growth through a continued strategy of focusing on a limited number of key projects at a time.
 
Before its purchase, Lohmann Vliesstoffe was a part of the larger Lohmann Group, a business conglomerate. Unlike TWE Group, the Lohmann Group’s wide range of market segments made the nonwovens division only a small segment of its business. The purchase by the TWE Group has allowed Lohmann to become a part of a company that focuses on only one core business—nonwovens. “Now we have a partner in the nonwovens industry that understands the industry,” explained Michael Haddon, managing director of Lohmann. “This was never the case before. Nonwovens was never considered a core business.”
 
While Lohmann and TWE continue to operate legally as two separate businesses, the two companies benefit from the many synergies that exist between them. Currently, about 10% of the companies’ total businesses cross over to each other, but company executives expect this percentage to increase as time goes on.
 
Looking at Lohmann separately, the company has been able to continue its strong track record of market penetration, begun three years ago, by adopting a strong market focus and relying on core strengths. To date, this strategy has enabled the company to more or less double its turnover in only three years. Some of this growth has been achieved through capital expansions including a new needlepunch line, built last year, that doubles the company’s capacity in this segment.
 
Company executives expect further capacity expansions to be examined in the future. “It’s good for the future of the company to build a new line in whatever technology we see fit,” Mr. Haddon said. “We are already starting to play with a few ideas.”
 
In addition to capital expansion, Lohmann’s sales have increased through a consolidation plan that brought the number of the company’s penetration markets from 15 to five. Instead of focusing on an excessive amount of projects that are going nowhere, the company focuses only on 10 projects, five on an “A-list” and five on a “B-list.” Once one project is complete, another one is added to the list.
 
Currently, about 40% of Lohmann’s nonwovens sales are conducted within the hygiene market. Despite the problems that have existed in that market for nonwovens in recent years, Mr. Haddon described 2001 as a good year for its hygiene business, which reaped the full benefits of Lohmann’s business strategies.
 
In addition to hygiene, Lohmann’s technical applications include construction, automotives and wet filtration. While niche markets continue to be an interest, they can be difficult to maintain, according to Mr. Haddon. “The problem with a niche market is that you find that once you develop them, somebody comes along and challenges you with a cheaper product,” he said. “The nonwovens industry can be an aggressive market in that way.”
 
In terms of production capabilities, Lohmann can produce 13,000 tons of nonwovens annually. This capacity is split between needlepunching (30%), resin bonding (30%) and air through bonding (40%). Currently about 11-12,000 tons of Lohmann’s capacity is fully utilized, leaving some room for organic growth.
 
Among the company’s not-yet-finalized plans for future expansion are a thermal bonding line and additional needlepunch or resin bond capacity. “If everything goes as planned, we will have to add some capacity at some point,” Mr. Haddon predicted.
Location: Dierdorf, Germany

Sales: $92 million

Description: Key Personnel
Michael Haddon, managing director

Plant
Dierdorf Germany

ISO Status
ISO 9001

Processes
Drylaid, chemical bonded, thermal bonded, needlepunched, air through bonded

Brand Names
Paratherm, Paramoll, Paraskin, Paraprint, Parabond, Parafil, Paratherm loft, Paraform

Despite difficult economic conditions in its domestic market, Germany, as well as all of Europe, Lohmann Vliesstoffe GmbH and sister company TWE Group were able to report solid performances in 2002. One year after the companies started their affiliation—through TWE’s purchase of Lohmann—they are optimistic for the future. Success has been achieved by not only being active in the market but also by being very specific about the type of market segments it wishes to be involved in and investing in all of its technologies to support this effort, according to Michael Haddon, managing director of Lohmann.
 
With major markets including automotives, interior decoration, filtration, medical, hygiene, roofing, footwear and conveyor belts, Lohmann is gaining share in all of its key markets. While hygiene continues to be Lohmann’s largest market, representing 40% of its annual sales, Mr. Haddon said conditions in this segment are not necessarily as difficult as some perceive.
 
“Despite its often maligned reputation, hygiene is still a business that can be mutually beneficial for all parties involved,” Mr. Haddon explained. “We are comfortable with having a mixed bag of technical applications to offset this. That has been further enhanced since joining the TWE group.”

Lohmann can produce 13,000 tons of nonwoven materials annually. Of this capacity needlepunch and resin bonding comprise 30% each while air through bonding represents the remaining 40%. Meanwhile, 100% of the 10,000 tons of nonwovens TWE produces annually are needle­punched. Its major market is currently household products but TWE is increasing its focus on technical applications including automotives. For now, the two companies operate as two legally separate entities but are able to benefit from the many synergies that exist between them. Currently, about 10% of the companies’ businesses cross over each other, and executives expect this percentage to rise as time goes on.
 
“TWE has and still is growing and the link up of Lohmann and TWE has brought few problems in the market as the two companies serve very different customer bases,” Mr. Haddon explained. “This is one of the major reasons why the two companies operate as separate entities although we obviously try to make the most of any synergy that exists between them.”
 
Also included under the same corporate umbrella is smaller roll goods producer Kahnes, a German producer of  5000 tons of needlepunch material per year. This division contributes approximately $9 million annually in sales to the organization. As the group continues to search for future growth, surely future acquisitions will be a focus.
 
For instance the group recently acquired Hildener Filz, a German based producer of needlepunched and spunlaced nonwovens. These acquisitions as well as past capital investment initiatives prove that Lohmann and its affiliated companies are serious about future growth, by whichever means necessary. “This tradition of organic growth will be supplemented by capital investments and expansion,” Mr. Haddon explained.
Location: Dierdorf, Germany

Sales: $158 MILLION

Description: Key Personnel
Michael Haddon, managing director

Plant
Dierdorf, Germany

ISO Status
ISO 9001

Processes
Drylaid, chemical bonded, thermal  bonded, needle­punched, air through bonded

Brand Names
Paratherm, Paramoll, Paraskin, Paraprint, Parabond, Parafil, Paratherm loft, Paraform

After making considerable investments in 2002 and into 2003, Lohmann Vliesstoffe GmbH, along with sister company TWE Group, has spent recent months examining synergies between its new businesses and establishing a plan for the future. After merging in 2002, Lohmann and TWE purchased the Kahnes Group, a Germany-based producer of 5000 tons of needlepunched material, in 2003, as well as needlepunch and spunlaced producer Hildener Filz.
 
These acquisitions as well as a steady stream of growth initiatives have allowed the company to grow its sales to E140 million in 2003, a significant jump compared to the slightly more than E100 million reported in 2002. The majority of this business was conducted in Europe; the company operates all of its production facilities within Germany.
 
Lohmann has been lucky to acquire companies that have little crossover in end use markets. While its largest market continues to be hygiene, comprising about 40% of the division’s sales, much of TWE’s business centers around consumer household products and some technical markets. “This means there is little crossover in the market for the companies in the group, and we are pleased to have this wide product portfolio in order to minimize risk,” said Michael Haddon, managing director. “It is our intention to pursue this strategy and grow in all of our core markets.”

Lohmann produces 13,000 tons of nonwoven materials annually. Of this capacity, needlepunch and resin bonding comprise 30% each while air through bonding represents the remaining 40%. Meanwhile, 100% of the 10,000 tons of nonwovens TWE produces annually are needlepunched, Kahnes can produce 5000 tons of needlepunched nonwovens and Hildener Filz’s capacity is split between needlepunched and spunlaced nonwovens.
 
The company’s success has largely been attributed to a sharp focus on the market segments in which it chooses to participate and a clear technology plan in sync with this focus. In addition to hygiene and household, core markets include automotives, interior decoration, filtration, medical, hygiene, footwear and conveyor belts.
 
While acquisition and investment activity has cooled, for now, Lohmann executives are making plans for the future. While specifics could not be named, Mr. Haddon would say that they would continue focus on its existing business and how it stacks up with market demands.
Location: Dierdorf, Germany

Sales: $158 million

Description: Key Personnel
Michael Haddon, managing director

Plant
Dierdorf, Germany

ISO Status
ISO 9001

Processes
Drylaid, chemical bonded, thermal bonded, needlepunched, airthrough bonded

Brand Names
Paratherm, Paramoll, Paraskin, Paraprint, Parabond, Parafil, Paratherm loft, Paraform

After making considerable investments in recent years, Lohmann Vliesstoffe GmbH and sister company TWE Group have more recently been focusing on examining synergies between new businesses and establishing a plan for the future. After merging in 2002, Lohmann and TWE purchased the Kahnes Group, a Germany-based producer of 5000 tons of needlepunched materials, in 2003, as well as needlepunch and spunlaced producer Hildener Filz.
 
These acquisitions, as well as a steady stream of growth initiatives, have allowed the company to grow its sales to an estimated E140 million. The majority of this business was conducted in Europe; the company operates all of its production facilities within Germany.
 
Lohmann has been lucky to acquire companies that have little crossover in end use markets. While its largest market continues to be hygiene, comprising about 40% of the division’s sales, much of TWE’s business centers around consumer household products and some technical markets. “This means there is little crossover in the market for companies in the group, and we are pleased to have this wide product portfolio in order to minimize risk,” said Michael Haddon, managing director. “It is our intention to pursue this strategy and grow in all of our core markets.”
 
Lohmann produces 13,000 tons of nonwoven materials annually. Of this capacity, needlepunch and resin bonding comprise 30% each while air through bonding represents the remaining 40%. Meanwhile, 100% of the 10,000 tons of nonwovens TWE produces annually are needlepunched. Kahnes can produce 5000 tons of needlepunched nonwovens and Hildener Filz’s capacity is split between needlepunched and spunlaced nonwovens.
 
The company’s success has largely been attributed to a sharp focus on the market segments in which it chooses to participate and a clear technology plan in sync with this focus. In addition to hygiene and household, core markets include automotives, interior decoration, filtration, medical, hygiene, footwear and conveyor belts.
 
While acquisition and investment activity has cooled, for now, Lohmann executives are making plans for the future. While specifics could not be named, Mr. Haddon would say that they would continue to fall in step with existing synergies within the business.
Location: Emsdetten, Germany

Sales: $200 million

Description: Key Personnel
Michael Haddon, managing director

Plants
Emsdetten, Germany; Dierdorf, Germany; Bocholt, Germany; Hangzhou, China

Processes
Drylaid, chemical bonded, thermal bonded, needlepunched, airthroughbonded

Applications
Hygiene, household, automotives, geotextiles, building, filtration

Sales increased 10% to reach $200 million for the TWE Group, the German nonwovens producer that includes the business formerly known as Lohmann, Kahnes and Hildener Filz. TWE Group, which merged with Lohmann in 2001, had retained separate identities for its acquired business until recently when it began working harder on establishing a stronger corporate identity and began approaching the market as one group. Since then Lohmann has been renamed TWE Dierdorf and the Tangerding site is now known as TWE Bocholt. Additionally, Hildener Filz, a nonwovens producer purchased in 2003, is currently being integrated into the group’s Dierdorf and Emsdetten, Germany manufacturing sites and its existing facility in Hilden, Germany will be closed early next year, according to company spokesman Michael Lohmann.
 
The key challenge for the TWE Group has been raw material and energy price increases. “We have obviously worked hard at synergy effects in order to offset this in some form or other but it is very difficult to be satisfied with the results given the pressures we are facing from the markets and above all the actions of some of our competitors,” Mr. Haddon explained.
 
Despite these challenges, TWE has invested heavily in the last 18 months in four new lines plus substantial upgrades to existing lines to provide state-of-the-art technology to remain competitive.
 
As a stand-alone company, Lohmann had a decent focus on hygiene and it continues to be important to the group but the company has been very careful to avoid an “all the eggs in one basket” syndrome and has reduced its exposure there. Currently, the group’s total turnover is split evenly between four main markets—hygiene, household, filtration and automotive, according to Mr. Haddon. “Beyond that, we still serve some very interesting niche markets, which I am not prepared to divulge,” he said.
 
In expansion news, geographically, China has become an important area for TWE, which is currently building a wholly-owned manufacturing facility there. This represents the company’s first non-German operation. “The first line should be up and running by the end of 2007 and will be serving the Asian market and at least one further line will be added in 2008,” Mr. Haddon said. “This reflects our vision for the future. We are aware that we need to become more global to service our customers and move away from being simply a German manufacturing outfit.”

Other global growth areas include Eastern Europe, where TWE is assessing the possibility of also adding a plant. “We are keen that these “global” sites should be for supplying local emerging markets as well as supporting our current customer base not at the expense of our current business,” Mr. Haddon concluded.
Location: EMSDETTEN, GERMANY

Sales: $211 million

Description: Key Personnel
Michael Haddon, managing director

Plants
Emsdetten, Germany, Kierdorf, Germany, Hangzhou, China

Processes
Drylaid, chemical bonded, thermal bonded, needlepunched, air through bonded

Applications
hygiene, household, automotives, geotextiles, building, filtration


Reporting a slight increase in 2007 was Germany’s The TWE Group, which characterized the year as a consolidation year.  “2007 was very much a consolidation year for our three main German production sites with no new lines being built, however a couple of lines were upgraded,” said spokesman Michael Haddon. “Given the amount of investment and new lines built over the last few years, this investment time out in Germany enabled us to really revisit the major markets we are serving to ensure that we are progressing in the manner we had planned. We are still following a policy of spreading the risk with the markets that we are active in and fortunately our four key markets, namely household, hygiene, filtration and automotive all performed as expected.”
 
TWE also completed the closure of its Hildener Filz site, which was purchased in 2003—and integrated this production into other TWE manufacturing sites.
 
The major project for the group in 2007 was building its Chinese plant where its first line came onstream at the end of the year. “We are currently building the second line in 2008 and this will be finished before year-end. The lines we have invested in are based on the current technologies operated in the group,” Mr. Haddon said. “We are also open to new technologies to TWE and this may play a role in future investment in China where we have space for a further two lines.”
 
Beyond Germany and China, TWE continues to pursue its stated intend of developing sites beyond Europe. China,  was a first step to this plan but other opportunities are being examined in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, Mr. Haddon added.
 
Beyond expansion, TWE, like everyone else, has been focusing on rising raw material and energy costs. “This is true for the whole industry, and in fact all industries, but we have tried to deal with this in a responsible manner by passing it on in the market. It is a dangerous game to play by companies who feel they do not have to react to these substantial increases,” Mr. Haddon concluded. “Having said that, 2008 turnover has progressed satisfactorily so we are expecting another solid year.”
Location: Dierdorf, Germany

Sales: $260 million

Description: Key Personnel
Michael Haddon

Plants
Emsdettern, Germany, Dierdorf, Germany; Hangzhou, China

Processes
Drylaid, chemical bonded, thermal bonded, needlepunched, air through bonded

Applications
Hygiene, household, automotives, geotextiles, building, filtration

Describing 2009 as “not an easy year,” was Michael Haddon, managing director of the TWE Group, Dierdorf, Germany. Attributing a turnover reduction largely to a substantial drop in sales to the automotives market and related areas, the company also saw reductions in many of its other markets, which include hygiene, household, geotextiles, building and filtration.
“We managed to keep our earnings healthy due to the fact that we reacted very quickly to the crisis and introduced a whole raft of measures to keep costs under control,” Mr. Haddon said. “Earnings were of course down but not critical.”
He added that the company started seeing conditions improve during the fourth quarter of 2009 and this has carried on into 2010. “It is very difficult to work out whether the crisis is fully over but we are confident for 2010, and beyond, due to new business and contracts secured over the last couple of years which are now coming onstream,” Mr. Haddon said.
To help secure itself for the future, TWE continued with its substantial investment plans and built two more new proprietary lines in its German sites of Dierdorf and Emsdetten to expand capacity in its existing technology. Additionally, TWE has just finalized plans to add another new line, featuring what Mr. Haddon would only call existing TWE technology, which will come onstream in the first quarter of next year.
Beyond Germany, the TWE Group opened a Chinese facility in Hangzhou in 2007 and added a second line there in 2008. Two years later, Mr. Haddon described its Chinese operation—which like Germany serves automotive, hygiene and technical applications—as in a consolidation phase.

Emsdetten, Germany
www.twe-group.com
2012 Nonwoven Sales: $400 million
 
Key Personnel: Warnier Wim, CEO; Ortmeier Jörg, COO
 
Plants: Germany, France, Belgium, Sweden, China
 
Processes: Air through bonded, chemical bonded, needlepunch, hydro entangled (spunlace)
 
Major markets: Hygiene, medical, automotive, filtration, building and construction, cleaning wipes, bedding and furniture, apparel
 
The big news from the TWE Group this year is the company’s acquisition of the Libeltex business formerly owned by the Vita Group. In September 2012, the German company purchased the group, including its plants in France, Belgium and Sweden, to help expand its footprint in the European nonwovens market.
 
“The integration of Libeltex has been seamless,” says CEO Wim Warnier. “It’s been a good cultural fi t. Both companies were active in mostly the same types of markets but we complemented each other geographically. We actually created the business unit structure, which helped us to integrate management teams.”
 
These seven teams, including hygiene, medical, automotives, filtration, building and construction, cleaning wipes and comfort (bedding, furniture and apparel), decide on market product focuses independently of where they are produced.
 
The Libeltex acquisition also expanded TWE’s scope. Before Libeltex, TWE, with four sites in Germany and one in China, was heavily focused on Germany and Asia, whereas Libeltex expanded the focus into France, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.
 
“We saw the Libeltex purchase as a way to become a truly international player in the nonwovens industry,” Warnier says.
 
Meanwhile, the group’s operation in Hangzhou, China continues to perform well, largely reporting 7-8% market growth. Currently active in hygiene, medical and automotive markets in China, the company has been investing in new machines and technologies since establishing the operation in 2007 and the company plans to decide on investment elsewhere in Asia.
 
About half of the group’s sales are now conducted within the hygiene market where the company is a leading manufacturer of acquisition and distribution layer materials for baby diapers, feminine hygiene items and adult incontinence products.
 
“The advantage we have is that we have some innovations that lead clear trends in the market,” Warnier says. “The market is looking for thinner diapers and better performing feminine care and adult incontinence products as well as softer top and backsheets.”
 
The company’s Slimcore product, developed by Libeltex and introduced in 2012, is becoming more standard in core materials that go into baby diaper. The through-air bonded ADL material features a multi layer that can be used in any fluff versus superabsorbent polymer ratio.
 
Also strong on TWE’s radar is automotives, which represents about 15% of turnover. Here, the group sees a lot of potential as nonwovens continue to replace materials in more parts of the car. TWE is able to offer OEMs many products on a global scale.