2017 Nonwovens Sales: $1.3 billion
Thomas Falk, chairman and CEO, Kimberly-Clark; Kim Underhill, global president, K-C Professional; Aaron Powell, president, K-C Professional North America; Tony Fedel, business leader, K-C Professional Partnership Products
Corinth, MS; Hendersonville, NC; LaGrange, GA; Neenah, WI; Maumelle, AK; Conway, AK; Beech Island, SC
Corinth, MS; Hendersonville, NC; LaGrange, GA; Neenah, WI
Spunbond, meltblown, SMS, BCW, hydroentangled, film lamination, elastic lamination, airlaid, and Coform
Kimberly-Clark Professional; Protective Fabrics: Block-It, Dustop, Evolution and Noah; Filtration Media: Intrepid, Powerloft, Cyclean; Delivery Systems: Hydroknit
Filtration, construction, acoustics, consumer hygiene, industrial, medical, packaging, protective, sorbents, textile linings and wet wipes
Kimberly-Clark’s commitment to its nonwovens operations was confirmed earlier this year when the Dallas, TX-based company approved $30 million for expansion and improvements to its nonwovens manufacturing facility in Hendersonville, NC. The plant produces nonwoven materials for Kimberly-Clark’s North American adult and feminine care brands including Depend, Poise and U by Kotex.
The two-year project will focus on expanding the plant’s production capacity and efficiency and is expected to add 14 new jobs at the site, while maintaining current employment.
“The Berkeley Mill team is proud about the role we will play in supporting the future growth of Kimberly-Clark’s adult and feminine care business in North America,” says Ernest Humphries, plant manager, Kimberly-Clark’s Berkeley Mill. “This investment, combined with the commitment of our employees and the support of the local community, will bolster the mill’s competitiveness and position us for continued success.”
The expansion plan comes following a restructuring announcement at K-C. The company announced in January it would close 10 sites and eliminate 5000-5500 jobs as part of its global restructuring plan.
The sites known to be affected by this plan include two plants in Wisconsin—one making nonwovens and another making Depend adult incontinence items—and one in California, which makes consumer products like Scott toilet tissue and Kleenex, as well as professional products including KimWipes and KayDry wipers.
Calling the program the latest example of a proactive and strategic approach to improving K-C so it can win in the marketplace, executives unveiled the program at K-C’s fourth quarter and full year earnings call.
“We remain optimistic about our business,” CEO Tom Falk says. “We have many strong brands and we are present in some strong growth markets, particularly in emerging economies.”
The plan is expected to save between $500-550 million by 2021. It also includes the divestment of lower margin businesses, mainly in the consumer tissue segment, which represent only about 1% of corporate sales.
The restructuring savings will be on top of an expected $1.5 billion in savings generated by K-C’s FORCE (Focused on Reducing Costs Everywhere), which are expected to be generated between now and 2021.
Looking forward, K-C expects to continue to grow its personal care businesses and has improvements planned for many of its core brands including Huggies diapers and baby wipes, Pull-Ups training pants and Depend adult incontinence products. On the diaper front, Kimberly-Clark has launched an upgraded version of Huggies diapers, featuring 5D core technology, which allows an extremely thin, yet soft and absorbent diaper. The company plans to expand this technology’s scope into the pants style diapers in the next few months.
On the ultrapremium side, Huggies is offering its first-ever customizable diaper, Huggies Made by You. Huggies diapers can now be custom-designed with a name, monogram, or date on five limited edition designs.
Meanwhile, in the wipes segment, K-C has expanded its Kleenex brand with the introduction of Kleenex Wet Wipes, which are already grabbing marketshare in the wet wipes market.
“Kleenex Wet Wipes are made for those of us who are active and not afraid to get a little messy,” says actress Alexandra Daddario, who is teamed up with Kleenex this summer. “From the dog park to yoga class and grabbing a bite to eat in between, these wipes have become a daily essential in my bag.”
Kimberly Clark’s leadership in innovation and technology led to the development of Kleenex Wet Wipes. Available in three varieties, the wipes bring the gentle cleansing power of water to people anytime, anywhere.
“More than 90 years ago, this brand was created by the same type of people who inspired this product. We continue to be inspired by ‘doers’ who fearlessly pursue their passions and we want to celebrate them,” says Rusty Zaspel, general manager for Hands and Face Care. “As the category leader, we keep the needs of our consumers at the center of everything we do and we created Kleenex Wet Wipes so people can quickly clean up and have the confidence to keep moving forward.”
They are available in three varieties: Kleenex Wet Wipes Gentle Clean, which leave no sticky residue; Kleenex Wet Wipes Germ Removal, clinically proven to wipe away 99% of germs from skin without harsh chemicals; and Kleenex Wet Wipes Sensitive, great for delicate skin, thanks to a fragrance-free formulation containing 99% purified water and a touch of Aloe and Vitamin E.
In adult incontinence, K-C has expanded its line of Depend Fit-Flex underwear with new sizes. Designed to be the best-fitting, most comfortable underwear, Depend Fit-Flex is available in sizes small, medium, large and extra-large for women and sizes small/medium, large and extra-large for men. With more sizes than before, Depend Fit-Flex Underwear provides a better fit for all body shapes and sizes, including an improved waistband to keep the brief in place and new tailored tension for comfort.
“As a licensed psychotherapist, I know that being comfortable both inside and out is essential to living a healthy lifestyle, no matter your age,” says Robi Ludwig, Depend brand spokesperson. “The new Depend Fit-Flex sizes offer individuals experiencing incontinence a way to feel comfortable and confident in their own skin, which is essential to living your best life at any age.”
Meanwhile, K-C continues to focus on its external nonwovens business, which represents approximately 15% of its output. Sold within the company’s K-C Professional Partnership business, the business continues to target new markets both within and beyond its traditional branded consumer products to grow its position globally. This division drives the innovation, marketing and sales for nonwovens made by K-C not destined for its consumer products. One recent innovation being offered by the group is a dual-textured Hydroknit material. The new fabric is perfect for demanding cleaning applications, featuring a scrubby side and a strong absorbent, cloth-like side. It is sold in many wet wipe applications including cleaning and polishing.
Other key markets for K-C’s external nonwovens business include air filtration, construction and sorbents.