2019 Nonwovens Sales: $491 million
Petri Helsky, CEO; Toni Tamminen, CFO; Markku Koivisto, senior vice president, Europe and CTO; Lynda Kelly, senior vice president, Business Development and Americas Interim; Mimoun Saim, senior vice president, Global Operations; Klaus Korhonen, senior vice president, HR and Legal Affairs
Bethune, SC; Green Bay, WI; Windsor Locks, CT; Paulinia, Brazil; Cressa, Italy; Mozzate, Italy; Nakkila, Finland; Alicante, Spain
Spunlace, wetlaid, thermal bond, chemical bond, SPC, Webril
Wipes, medical, hygiene
As it increases its focus on sustainability, Suominen Corporation, the world’s largest supplier of nonwoven substrates to the global wipes market, continues to roll out new products featuring new sustainable fiber types and designs.
“Our strategic vision is to be the frontrunner for nonwovens innovation and sustainability,” says senior vice president, Business Development, Lynda Kelly.
Suominen’s current Sustainable Product Portfolio consists of products made of renewable, recycled and/or plastic-free raw materials as well as compostable and totally dispersible nonwovens. “We are constantly developing new products for this portfolio and we have a number of new products to be launched focused on this sustainable market trend,” Kelly continues.
One example of Suominen’s successes in sustainable product development revolve around flushable and dispersible technology. The company was the first nonwovens manufacturer to receive the Fine for Flush Manufacturers’ Generic Certificate from Water UK for its Hydraspun Royal product. Hydraspun Royal meets stringent flushability standards established in the U.K. market. “Receiving the Fine to Flush certification from Water UK is a remarkable achievement for us,” Kelly notes. “It demonstrates our commitment to innovation and being a nonwovens market leader.”
Additionally, Suominen’s 100% sustainable product line Biolace nonwovens, which was introduced more than a decade ago, continues to expand and grow.
Suominen launched its new strategy in January 2020. This strategy was built from the ground up involving many functions, regions and perspectives to create strategy ownership from the beginning. The strategy highlights five focus areas—operational excellence, sustainability leadership, differentiation through innovation and commercial excellence, a great place to work and a dual operating model.
Furthermore, the company renewed financial targets for the strategy period 2020-2025 which includes net sales growth above market growth and an EBITDA margin above 12% by 2025.
”There are two main targets we aim to achieve with this strategy—growth and improved profitability,” says Kelly. “We believe that we can grow together with our customers in the changing market by offering sustainable products which the end users are requesting. Our profitability will be improved by upgrading our assets, introducing new products while reaching our operational excellence initiatives.”
In April, Suominen announced it was investing about €4 million to enhance one of its lines in Italy in order to strengthen its capabilities for sustainable products. At the time of the announcement, CEO Petri Helsky said, “With this investment, we strengthen our leadership in sustainable nonwovens by allowing us to offer next generation products to the market.”
The project is expected to be finalized in the second half of 2021.
In other investment news, Suominen announced in August it would upgrade and restart an existing line in Cressa, Italy, to increase its overall nonwovens output. This €8 million investment is expected to be complete next year and will help meet demand for spunlace nonwovens globally.
“The demand for nonwovens is growing in all regions,” Kelly says. “The demand of nonwovens for cleaning and disinfecting wipes as well as nonwovens for medical purposes has increased due to the Covid-19 pandemic and consequently our sales volumes has increased in all our markets. In the longer term the Covid-19 pandemic may lead to continued increased demand for nonwovens for cleaning and disinfection applications.”
In response to increased demand for PPE, Suominen has also developed nonwovens—under the brand name Fibrella Shield—for various healthcare needs, including face masks and protective clothing. This material has been tested in Finland and has met the necessary criteria to be used by healthcare professionals. Currently the plant is capable of producing material for approximately 15 million mask per month, Kelly explains.
Suominen’s business areas are Americas and Europe. In 2019, Americas’ sales accounted for 64% of net sales and the European business accounted for 36% of sales.