Airlaid Materials’ net sales decreased $14.4 million in the year-over-year comparison. Shipments were 18% lower driven by continued softness in tabletop demand from delays in restaurants reopening, as well as lower shipments in the hygiene and wipes categories as customers adjusted their buying patterns following elevated year-end inventory levels maintained due to the pandemic. Currency translation was $4.2 million favorable.
“Glatfelter continued to deliver strong earnings in the first quarter of 2021 by effectively managing costs and driving operating efficiencies, despite a challenging market,” says Dante C. Parrini, chairman and CEO. “Composite Fibers performed better than expected as volume growth in food and beverage and favorable wallcover demand improved overall product mix and asset utilization, thereby helping to drive a 6% increase in year-over-year operating profit. In Airlaid Materials, volumes were under pressure, especially in the tabletop category that was down 55% compared to last year due to the pandemic as restaurant dining remains slow to recover. We also experienced lower than anticipated demand in wipes, homecare and feminine hygiene products as customers recalibrated order levels to account for Covid-driven year-end inventory reserves. Despite the overall market volatility, both segments achieved healthy EBITDA margins in the mid-teens.”
Parrini adds: “As recently announced, the regulatory review process has concluded for our pending acquisition of Georgia-Pacific's U.S. nonwovens business. We expect this transaction will close by mid-May, building on our growth strategy and advancing our plans to expand our U.S. footprint. We are excited to begin the integration process that we expect will enable capacity optimization, improve operational enhancements and accelerate innovation efforts to better service our customers' growing needs, especially in the wipes category. Glatfelter is well-positioned to capture and service the growing demand in the broader health and hygiene categories as we continue to make meaningful and accretive investments to add further scale to our platforms.”