2015 Nonwovens Sales: $268 million
Mikael Staal Axelsen, group CEO; Peter Andersen, CEO, Malaysia; Claus Svanberg, group CFO; Mette Due Sogaard, group quality and sustainability director; Peter Reis, group supply chain director; Anders Sogaard, operations director, Denmark; Jesper Pedersen, operations director, Malaysia; Ong Soo Fen, CFO, Malaysia
Denmark, Malaysia, Germany
Comfort, Elite, Dual
Hygiene—baby diapers, feminine care, adult incontinence
Asian expansion continues for Denmark-based Fibertex Personal Care. The manufacturer of spunbond and spunmelt nonwovens for hygiene applications announced in January it would add a fifth line to its Malaysian operation to serve the growing Asian hygiene market. The new line will bring the company’s Malaysian capacity to about 90,000 tons. Fibertex Personal Care established this operation in 2002 and is currently the largest non-Japanese supplier of nonwovens to Japan.
According to executives, there are clear signs that the timing of investment is Asia is right. While consumption of hygiene products in the west only shows a moderate increase of 1-2% per year, it is as high as 10% per year in Asia thanks to a growing number of people in China, India and Southeast Asia earning an income that allows them to increase their focus on personal hygiene.
Fibertex’s latest Malaysian line will be housed in a new site about 25 kilometers south of the existing plant. This plant will have room to ultimately accommodate four or five lines, meaning that future expansion is already being considered.
“At the new site we will have even more focus on value-added products and the improvement of existing products,” says CEO Mikael Staal Axelsen. “The consumers and thereby the industry require hygiene products that are lighter, softer and with finer structures, and we have reached an advanced stage in the processing improvement race which becomes more and more predominant in our business.”
The new site is expected to be operational by mid-2017. Fibertex’s most recent Malaysian investment, line number four, came onstream in 2013, adding 22,000 tons to its global output.
Also in Malaysia, Fibertex Personal Care is in the process of adding direct-printing nonwovens capabilities to the site through its Innowo Print subsidiary. Fibertex Personal Care acquired full ownership of Innowo Print, a company it helped found in 2007, in late 2014, and announced its intention to expand its operation into Malaysia last year. While Fibertex Personal Care is one of Innowo’s customers, the company does provide direct printing services for a number of other companies. In addition to the Malaysian investment, Innowo is beefing up its German operation by adding a fourth line to the site.
Back to the nonwovens business, Fibertex Personal Care continues to operate three lines capable of making about 50,000 tons of nonwovens per year at its Aalborg, Denmark headquarters. While the company has chosen not to invest in a new European line, instead focusing on Asian growth, it is in the process of upgrading one of the site’s lines to allow it to make softer products.