2018 Nonwovens Sales: $988 million
Silverio Baranzano, CEO; Hal Singley, CFO
Gravataí, Brazil; Cosmópolis, Brazil; Lima, Peru; San Jose Iturbide, Mexico; Simpsonville, USA/SC; Green Bay, USA/WI; Washougal, USA/WA; Norrkoping, Sweden; Peine, Germany; Trezzano Rosa, Italy; Sulmona, Italy; Tianjin, China; Ras Al-Khaimah, UAE; Rayong, Thailand
Spunbond, SMS, bicomponent spunbond, meltblown, carded (chemical bonded, thermal bonded, air through bonded), airlaid, elastic films & laminates, perforated films, nonwovens and composites
Despite lower than expected growth in spunmelt demand globally, sales increased to $988 million at Fitesa thanks to rising raw materials prices and regional dynamics affecting the hygiene market. “The hygiene market, our main segment, was not a stranger to the effects of rising oil prices, affecting in full the third-generation petrochemical industry,” says Mariana Mynarski, global marketing.
However, the company strengthened its geographical presence, through the acquisition of a stake in CNC International, a Southeast Asia-based manufacturer of spunmelt nonwovens and the subsequent creation of the FitesaCNC joint-venture in Southeast Asia as well as the start-up of the new Innovation Center and pilot line in Simpsonville.
“The FitesaCNC joint-venture represents our entrance in SE Asia, one of the fastest growing markets in the world,” Mynarski says. “Besides the impressive growth rates, this market is also demonstrating more thirst for differentiated products than other developing markets, which fully aligns with our organizational strategy.”
A leader in the manufacture of spunmelt nonwovens, Fitesa’s strong global footprint already included spunmelt production facilities in the U.S., Brazil, Peru, Sweden, Germany, Mexico and Italy as well as an airlaid line in China. Fitesa has spent the last decade, since it exited its joint venture agreement with Fiberweb to become one of the largest manufacturers of spunmelt nonwovens in the world, beefing up its already impressive manufacturing footprint. This has meant expansion and improvements in Brazil, Peru, the U.S., Sweden and Germany which have brought the company’s global capacity to 450,000 metric tons per year.
Fitesa is ensuring this capacity continues to be well utilized by focusing on innovation. Earlier this year, the company opened an innovation center and pilot line in Simpsonville, SC, its North America headquarters. The new line is the first hybrid air through bonding/spunbonding line in operation worldwide, and Mynarski says it puts Fitesa ahead of the competition in innovation and product development.
“Having pilot lines that reproduce our commercial lines capabilities is part of our strategy to increase our speed to market with new products,” she adds. “Increasing our pilot capacity and serving our customers in the regions where they are located also contributes to accelerate trials and, ultimately, new product introductions.”
It is investments like these that help Fitesa continue to deliver high value to a broad spectrum of stakeholders worldwide, something that is crucial to future growth. Also key to future success is sustainability. Fitesa has written a sustainability policy that advocates for the responsible management of resources use and the work towards a sustainable society. Some of the key points of the policy include reducing its environmental impact, improving an energy profile, addressing the issue of climate change and taking social and moral responsibility in all regions.
From a product standpoint, Fitesa continues to extend its biobased product line. In 2019, the company’s 100% PLA soft nonwoven was awarded with the IDEA Achievement Award for the best roll good product introduction, and this is just a part of the company’s large sustainable portfolio, with products starting with 20% renewable source content.
Sustainability is just one area where Fitesa is seeing the need for innovation.
“Consumers and customers needs are continuously evolving, which makes it harder to keep yourself always relevant as a supplier of solutions,” Mynarski says. “We have a clear strategy to build strong long term relationships with customers, based in high quality innovative solutions and exceptional service, to make sure we are constantly involved in their challenges and projects, and consequently always up to speed to respond to changes.”