2018 Nonwovens Sales: $329 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; Albert Steffen, managing director, Germany
Denmark, Malaysia, Germany, U.S.
Comfort, Elite, Dual, Loft
Sales at Fibertex Personal Care increased 8% to reach DKK 2187 million ($329 million) in 2018, driven by higher prices of raw materials and strength in the company’s printing business as well as the addition of a new line in Asia. Volumes were in line with the previous year but increases came out of the company’s Asian operation in Malaysia while sales generated in Denmark decreased.
Despite higher volume sales, increased competition, particularly in Asia, has decreased demand for products supplied from Fibertex Personal Care’s two Malaysian sites. However, its latest investment in Malaysia is focused on specialty nonwovens which is allowing it to step up new product development and offer specialized products.
The latest Asian investment, the fifth in Malaysia, was completed at a second production site in late 2017 adding 20,000 tons of capacity and giving Fibertex Nonwovens the ability to make supersoft nonwovens, which are in high demand in Asian markets.
“The new line is a specialty line, which is key to being successful in Asia,” says Mikael Staal Axelsen, president.
Fibertex Personal Care has been present in Malaysia since 2003 and is one of the largest manufacturers of spunmelt nonwovens in Asia and the largest foreign supplier to the Japanese diaper market. The new site has enough room to somehow house four production lines, meaning that Fibertex Personal Care will be well positioned to capitalize on future growth in the Asian hygiene market.
Staal Axelsen hinted that this expansion may not necessarily involve its core technology, spunmelt. “We had plans for expansion but not necessarily with classic spunbond volume as markets are saturated,” he says.
Meanwhile in Europe, where Fibertex Nonwovens operates two lines in Aalborg, Denmark, the market is gradually moving toward specialty products, and the company has stepped up its focus on innovation and patents in this segment. As a result the company will soon be able to launch products featuring new functions and visual effects.
Beyond nonwovens production, Fibertex Personal Care holds sophisticated knowledge of direct printing on nonwovens through its Innowo Print Business, which it co-founded in 2008 and assumed full ownership of in 2014. The company already operates printing operations in Germany and Malaysia and has recently completed a new factory in Asheboro, NC. The latest investment, estimated at $10 million, came onstream in the fourth quarter of 2018 and represented the company’s first operation in North America.
In 2018, printing activities contributed DKK 376 million ($56 million) to the company’s sales, up from DKK 266 million ($40 million) the year before. “So far we are satisfied with this progress,” he says.