2013 Nonwovens Sales: $515 million
Nina Kopola, president and CEO; Tapio Engstrom, senior vice president,CFO; Timo Hiekkaranta, senior vice president, convenience; Lynda Kelly, senior vice president, care; Hannu Sivula, senior vice president, HR; Mimoun Saim, senior vice president, operations EMEA, Larry Kinn, senior vice president, operations Americas; Margareta Huldén, vice president, R&D; Saara Soderberg, vice president, marketing and product management; Roberto Pedoja, vice president, technology and investments; Dan Dunbar, vice president, sourcing, Timo Rautakorpi, vice president, CIO; Anu Heinonen, vice president, corporate communications and investor relations.
Bethune, SC, U.S.; Green Bay, WI, U.S.; Windsor Locks, CT, U.S.; Paulínia, Brazil; Cressa, Italy; Mozzate, Italy; Nakkila, Finland; Alicante, Spain
Spunlace, thermal bonded, carded, hydroentangled, SPC
Wiping, medical, hygiene
The July 2014 divestment of its flexible packaging business unit made Suominen a company completely devoted to nonwovens. As a leading producer of nonwovens for wipes, Suominen is now fully concentrated on executing its nonwovens strategy, according to CEO Nina Kopola, and a significant part of this strategy is growing its business in areas with increased value-added; both beyond wipes and in the specific segments in wiping.
These efforts were well illustrated by Suominen’s announcement in September 2013 that it would reshape its corporate structure, dividing its nonwovens unit into two business areas, Convenience and Care. The larger of the two units, Convenience, generating some 90% of the company’s net sales, focuses on serving customers mainly in wipes but also in travel and catering segments while the Care business area targets customers in medical and hygiene segments.
“Reshaping the company structure and operating model is an essential and, at the same time, logical step in the strategic path we have chosen,” Kopola said at the time of the restructuring announcement. “Among other important objectives, we seek to speed up our capability to create new business and launch new products with higher value added to the market. We will, on top of our leadership presence in wipes, actively utilize that current position with new and exciting products to strengthen our share in the medical and hygiene segments as well. In May, Lynda Kelly joined Suominen as senior vice president for Care business area, adding strong expertise and experience in medical and hygiene business in Suominen’s management.”
Suominen also continues to reinforce its globally leading position in the wipes business. Also in wiping, the company seeks to increase the share of products with higher added value, for instance through investing in the growth of flushables. In spring 2014, Suominen completed its investment in the capacity increase of flushable nonwovens in its Windsor Locks, CT site in the U.S. Further, the company expanded the flushables manufacturing collaboration with Ahlstrom at their Stalldalen, Sweden plant.
In March 2014, Suominen announced that its Hydraspun Dispersible Substrates flushable technology, which was first developed in the late 1990s, had passed the third generation flushability assessment protocol jointly developed by INDA and EDANA. This protocol was introduced in 2013 and allows products to claim flushability in wastewater systems. At INDEX14, Suominen also launched a new registered logo to depict to consumers the flushability of Hydraspun substrates. Suominen continues to take various measures in order to retain its leadership position in this segment.
On the new product front, in May 2014 Suominen launched Biolace Skin to the home spa market. This range of nonwovens can be used in home spa applications such as facial sheet masks, cosmetic pads, patches and exfoliation sheets. The new product Biolace Skin was developed in cooperation with Austrian company Lenzing AG using their Tencel Skin fibers with unique nano fibril structure. The combination of Suominen’s nonwovens technology and Lenzing’s Tencel Skin fibers has resulted in a product that has a smooth and silky touch, flexibility and high strength to maintain facial shape and excellent lotion management.
Another example of the company’s activities outside of its traditional wipes is the introduction of Novolino nonwovens for tabletop products in February 2014. This range of substrates brings a new dimension to the tabletop market. With its soft and silky touch, Novolino nonwovens offer users a disposable alternative to traditional linen or other textile napkins.
“The demand for nonwovens for wiping, medical and hygiene applications is high in volume and enjoys a healthy growth globally, driven by megatrends such as middle class growth, aging of the population and urbanization,” says Kopola. “There are however differences in both regional demand and supply and thus in the balance of the two. The spunlace supply in Europe continues to exceed the regional demand. As a result, margins in oversupplied markets like Europe tend to be tight for the entire supply chain.”
Suominen became a leading maker of nonwovens for wiping applications in the world in 2011 when it acquired the assets of Ahlstrom’s home and personal business area in North America and Europe; and reinforced this position when the acquisition of Ahlstrom’s Brazilian operations was finalized in 2014. The deal provided Suominen with a foothold in a new, dynamic market region.
“We remain very committed to the wipes market,” Kopola says. “The reasons for this are clear—it is a healthy, growing industry. There are continuous possibilities for expansion and we have a long history serving this market.”