2012 Nonwovens Sales: $712 million
Key Personnel:Silverio Baranzano, CEO, Hal Singley, CFO
Plants:Gravatai, Brazil; Lima, Peru; Queretaro, Mexico; Simpsonville, SC; Green Bay, WI; Washougal, WA; Norrkoping, Sweden; Peine, Germany; Trezzano Rosa, Italy; Tianjin, China
Processes:Spunbond, SMS, bicomponent spunbond and SMS, meltblown, carded (chemical bonded, thermal bonded, air through bonded), airlaid, laminates
Major Markets:Hygiene, medical and industrial specialties (fi ltration, agricultural, sorbent)
With new investments in Brazil and Peru onstream, Fitesa continues to expand its presence in the hygiene markets both in South America and around the globe. The U.S.-based nonwovens manufacturer has plants in North America, Europe and China as well as its strong South American presence.
In 2012, Fitesa expanded its operation in South Carolina, added a greenfield site near Lima, Peru to better serve customers west of the Andes, and started a new line in Brazil. These investments have already begun contributing to Fitesa’s sales and have helped the company expand its global reach in the hygiene market.
Other lines, previously owned by FitesaFiberweb, which are now fully owned by Fitesa, include assets in Brazil, South Carolina, Washington and Mexico. In addition to these lines, Fitesa also gained spunmelt lines in Germany, Italy and Sweden, carding lines in Wisconsin and South Carolina and airlaid lines in Tianjin, China as part of its $286 million purchase of Fiberweb’s hygiene related assets in late 2011. The sale boosted the Evora (formerly Petropar) owned company’s sales from about $160 million to $670 million in 2011 and $712 million in 2012. Ray Dunleavy, the company’s market strategy and business development director, says Fitesa’s partnership with Fiberweb, formed in 2009, helped prepare it to serve the global nonwovens industry.
“The joint venture with Fiberweb in 2009, which combined Fitesa’s Brazilian operations with Fiberweb’s North American spunmelt operations, provided the initial learning for expanding the Fitesa business model to new regions. This experience helped us to create the necessary systems and management practices to deal with Fitesa’s global footprint,” he says.
As for Asia, this region continues to be on Fitesa’s radar. Back when the company was still affiliated with Fiberweb, the joint venture announced that it was examining the possibility of adding a spunmelt operation in China in partnership with Japan’s JNC Nonwovens (formerly Chisso Corporation) but nothing has been said of this since the Fiberweb purchase. Still, Dunleavy admits that Asia is on its radar for growth when the right opportunity emerges.
“It cannot be denied that Asia is an important and rapidly growing market for hygiene products. Fitesa already participates there with its airlaid business in China. We are staying alert for growth opportunities in the region,” he says.
As it explores expansion in developing regions, Fitesa expects to see only modest growth in the next few years in developed regions like the U.S. and Western Europe, where increasing demand for adult incontinence products is retarded by declines in demand for baby diapers, driven by declining birth rates and lower diaper usage.
“Fitesa is an important participant as one of the top three players in the hygiene market in the Americas and Europe,” Dunleavy says. “We are constantly assessing opportunities, not only in those regions but also in other regions where we have presence, like Asia, or in new geographies, like Africa. Fitesa will always take investment decisions that present an opportunity to better serve our customers and shareholders.”