2013 Nonwovens Sales: $263 million
Mikael Staal Axelsen, group CEO; Peter Andersen, CEO, Malaysia; Claus Svanberg, group CFO; Mette Due Sogaard, group quality and sustainability director; Kenneth Mynster Dolmer, group supply chain director; Anders Sogaard, operations director, Denmark; Peter Bach Sigvardt, operations director, Malaysia; Ong Soo Fen, CFO, Malaysia
Three lines in Denmark, four in Malaysia
Comfort, Elite, Dual
Hygiene—applications within baby diapers, feminine care and adult incontinence
Sales for Aalborg, Denmark-based Fibertex Personal Care continued to grow last year, increasing 7% to DKK1,554 million, or $263 million, driven largely by the successful introduction of its third Malaysian line but also by increased volumes in Denmark.
This growth is expected to continue, particularly out of Asia, where its fourth line came on stream at its Malaysian facility at the end of 2013. This new line, representing a $50 million investment, increased the company’s Malaysian capacity 30% to 70,000 tons. Coming not long after the completion of the site’s third line, which added 22,000 tons to the site, this ambitious investment is the result of strong growth in the Asian hygiene market, which is growing more than 10% per year, according to group CEO Mikael Staal Axelsen.
“The four major Asian markets are Japan, China, ASEAN and India and they are growing across the board,” he says. “In addition to its Malaysian operation, we have also added country managers for Japan and India.”
According to Axelsen, pricing in Asia has been challenged due to overcapacity brought on by overinvestment in China that was made in anticipation of growth that has not been as fast as expected. Therefore, a lot of Chinese-made nonwovens are being sold in India. For this reason, Fibertex Personal Care has ruled out investing in India for now and will instead serve the market from its Malaysian base, which was established in 2002.
“Investing in Malaysia has been a good decision for us,” Axelsen says. “We have been able to grow our Asian business. We have a good workforce there. It has been good.”
As its Asian business has been in investment mode, its European operation, located in Aalborg, Denmark, continues to be a success. The company has not added to the site, since its third line was started in late 2006, but it reports all three of the lines in Aalborg are full and the European market is performing well.
“Europe is pretty much in balance as long as nobody puts in a new line,” Axelsen says.
A company 100% focused on the hygiene market, Fibertex Personal Care is now focusing its efforts on meeting demand for softness in the personal care market. “It can be hard to down guage and go to lower weights without sacrificing softness but bulky soft materials being developed on our latest line have given us the ability to meet these demands,” Axelsen says. “They are just now starting to take off.”
Fibertex Personal Care began making spunmelt nonwovens in 1997 when it was still known simply as Fibertex and also contained an industrial-centered division.
In 2010, Fibertex separated its hygiene-related assets from its industrial side, creating two distinct companies, Fibertex Personal Care and Fibertex Nonwovens. Both companies continue to be owned by Schouw & Co.
Since entering the spunmelt market, Fibertex Personal Care has attributed its impressive level of growth to maintaining strong professional relationships with its customers and this strategy has resulted in a number of awards and distinctions from key customers including supplier of the year awards from both Procter & Gamble and Ontex in 2013.
“Being 100% involved in hygiene was a choice we made and it has been successful for us to have a narrow focus,” Axelsen says of his company’s progress. “A lot of companies are looking for diversification but that is not our strategy.”