2013 Nonwovens Sales: $166 million
Jorgen Bech Madsen, CEO; Henrik Kjeldsen CCO; Lars Bertelsen, COO; Henrik Eigenbrod, CFO; Keld Lauridsen, Group R&D Manager; Bjarne Knudsen, CEO, Czech Republic
Denmark, Czech Republic, France, South Africa
Needlepunch, spunlace, impregnation, coating and a range of finishing technologies
Acoustics, automotive, bedding, building industry, composites, construction, filtration, flooring, furniture, geotextiles, home and garden, horticulture, wipes
Describing the first half of 2013 as slow with a hard European winter impacting construction and a weak automotives market, executives at Fibertex Nonwovens reported a reverse in conditions during the second half of 2013 and into 2014. For the full year, sales increased 3.5% to DKK 901 million ($166 mn) while earnings improved from $5 million to DKK$6.6 million (~$1.2mn) due to improvements in its core business and a sharper focus on customized value-added products.
“There is a combination of factors influencing our growth,” says CEO Jorgen Bech Madsen. “Partly it was better demand, but we have improved our competitive position with new products and advanced solutions.”
Also impacting the company’s performance was a company-wide improvement program that modernized and expanded production platforms, giving Fibertex Nonwovens competitive strength. This five-year investment plan covers improvements at all of Fibertex Nonwovens’ global sites and could even feature some yet-to-be-announced major enhancements, according to executives.
With its focus on five core markets—automotives, construction, industrial, filtration and wipes—Fibertex Nonwovens has plants in Denmark, the Czech Republic, France and South Africa. It was created in 2011 when it split from its sister company, Fibertex Personal Care.
In recent years, the company has relied on acquisition and investment for growth. This strategy seems to have worked. The company has more than doubled its sales (from $73 million) since 2009 and expects sales to continue their upward trend.
In acquisition news, Fibertex Nonwovens purchased Tharreau Industries in May 2011. This French manufacturer, now known as Fibertex Nonwovens S.A.S., generated substantial synergies for both companies and has helped accelerate the company’s strategy of becoming a European market leader. The operation contains needlepunch and spunlace operations in Chemillé, France. In 2013, sales from this French facility represented nearly 50% of sales ($72 million).
On the investment side, Fibertex Nonwovens established a South African facility in 2010. Featuring a state-of-the-art needlepunch line, this facility mainly targets the geotextiles market as well as the growing automotives market.
Fibertex Nonwovens spent its first three years in South Africa establishing a presence in the country, and in early 2013 it acquired a stake in distributor Geotextile Africa to improve its market positions. Executives expect growth in South Africa to come on the heels of a large number of infrastructure projects both in neighboring countries and locally.
“South Africa has seen nice development, particularly in late 2013,” Madsen says. “We have really focused on developing our business outside of Europe.”
In addition to global expansion, Fibertex Nonwovens continues to expand itself into new technical markets. “We are in many niche markets, like acoustics and low and high end filtration. We are also increasing our focus on what we call advanced nonwovens,” Madsen adds.