2015 Nonwovens Sales: $350 million
Poul Mikkelsen, chairman; Martin Mikkelsen, CEO; Finn Schoning, group vice president, Finance; Andy Uhl, COO Jacob Holm, Roberto Boggio, COO, Sontara
Asheville, NC; Soultz, France; Old Hickory, TN; Asturias, Spain
Sontara, Hydroentanglement/spunlace, composites
Sontara, Softesse, JetSpun, Softlite, SoftFlush, a.o.
Personal care, home care, hygiene, medical, specialty, technical, industrial
With its new U.S. investment complete, Jacob Holm Industries is continuing to pursue its global growth strategy within all of its five main segments—hygiene, beauty, healthcare, consumer and industrial. In 2015, sales continued to increase, reaching $350 million on the heels of two major investment initiatives—the acquisition of the Sontara technology assets from DuPont and the completion of its latest U.S. production line in the second quarter of 2015.
“Our global strategy targets five core segments,” says CEO Martin Mikkelsen. “Within these we’re pleased to note growth in all of our geographical markets—the Asia-Pacific, North America, South America and Europe.”
Within North America, Jacob Holm is particularly focused on the flushable wipes market. Its latest investment, a $65 million line, features proprietary technology that has resulted in the launch of Softflush, a unique nonwoven substrate combining the highest wet strength with the fastest dispersibility commercially available. This product is quickly finding acceptance in moist toilet tissue, personal care, adult incontinence, medical and bathroom cleaning wipes markets. In addition to the dispersibility benefit, the product offers a softer feel as recognized by consumers.
Beyond flushable wipes, Jacob Holm is also developing products from the new line for certain healthcare applications and industrial wipes. Mikkelsen says new product introductions targeting industrial wipes have already been launched in 2016.
“Progress on diversifying the offering from our proprietary technology line has opened up spaces for innovation beyond flushable wipes but they still remain the main category and focus of development,” he adds. “Overall, we aim at proposing a more comprehensive offering to our main customers. We can deliver for example the widest technological portfolio to our customers using many types of fiber blends and technical product properties to tailor the product and exceed the end-user’s expectations. We can deliver anything from reinforced pulp-based wipes in the industrial category to ultrasoft flushable wet wipes.”
In fact, diversification within the wipes market is a major focus for Jacob Holm whose markets range from beauty to healthcare to industrial. “When we talk about wipes today, it is a much broader category than it was traditionally,” Mikkelsen says. “We are heavily invested in the wipes category. Our lines and our assets speak well to the needs of the wipes market and we remain committed to bringing more innovation and benefits to our wipes customers.”
Jacob Holm’s second U.S. line came onstream in spring 2015, nine years after its first line began operation. Several years in development, the new line features unique patented technology. Meanwhile, Jacob Holm’s existing asset base has benefited from developments on lighter weights and alternative raw materials.
“We are known for high quality product offerings across all of our segments and all of our regions,” he says. “And for that type of products there is always growth available.”
Currently, Jacob Holm has facilities only in North America and Europe, but that won’t stop growth in other geographies such as Asia.”
The high quality product offering was enhanced through the acquisition of the Sontara technology assets from DuPont in late 2014. In addition to expanding the company’s manufacturing footprint with sites in Tennessee and Spain, the Sontara acquisition provided Jacob Holm with access to key markets and customers in areas of specialty industrial wipes, medical apparel and beauty care. It added about $190 million to overall sales.
“Sontara has a product range that fits well into most of our five core segments and expands our global footprint. It has also given us great dedicated sales representatives in new regions, enabling unparalleled level of local service to our global accounts.”
So while Jacob Holm only has manufacturing sites in the U.S. and Europe, it is able to easily service customers well beyond them into other new regions. That’s not to say that investment in new places is off the table.
“We are looking actively at our next growth project,” Mikkelsen says. “Its too early to say where it will be. We always analyze first our customer’s needs and technology trends. We listen to our customers and the market and then invest with something new, something innovative addressing trends that are emerging. This is what we have done with every single line we have started up, and this is what we are looking to achieve with our next growth initiative as well. Our continued growth is testament to the success of this model.”