2019 Nonwovens Sales: $269 million
Jorgen Bech Madsen, CEO; Henrik Kjeldsen, CCO; Lars Bertelsen, COO: Henrik Eigenbrod, CFO; Keld Lauridsen, group R&D director; Bjarne Knudsen, managing director
Denmark, Czech Republic, U.S., France, Turkey, South Africa, Brazil
Needlepunch, spunlace, impregnating, coating
Acoustics, automotives, bedding, building, composites, concrete, construction, filtration, flooring, furniture, geotextiles, home and garden, horticulture, medical, wipes
A string of acquisitions has helped boost Fibertex Nonwovens’ sales in recent years and expand its role into a number of markets and regions. Its most recent acquisition, in January 2019, was a U.S.-based spunlace facility from Mogul Nonwovens. The Grey Court, SC site added 14,000 tons of capacity to the company’s global output and is allowing it to target growth in North America. Since acquiring the site, Fibertex has upgraded the spunlace line to add special features and enlarge its product range as well as enter value-added business segments within wipes and medical applications.
In other investment news, Fibertex Nonwovens has upgraded an existing needlepunch line in South Africa and relocated it to North America. The relocation will increase output capacity in North America and support growth while aligning the company’s capacity in South Africa to meet current needs, according to the company.
“By expanding in North America, we continue our very strong development within needlepunch within automotive, building, furniture and bedding, filtration, and industrial markets, while providing for future growth,” says Jorgen Bech Madsen, CEO. “The new state-of-the-art high capacity needlepunch line will provide opportunities to be closer to some customers, offering greater flexibility and capacity as well as sustainable products.”
Fibertex Nonwovens had already produced needlepunched nonwovens in the U.S. at a site outside Chicago, IL, which was acquired from Non Woven Solutions in October 2014. This site largely targets the automotives market.
In 2018, Fibertex Nonwovens expanded its global footprint into Brazil through the acquisition of Duci, a Brazilian-owned manufacturer with a strong potential in the automotives industry. Duci was a maker of spunlaced nonwovens for industrial application, a technology Fibertex Nonwovens already made in France. Incorporating Duci has allowed Fibertex Nonwovens to follow its customers across the Atlantic Ocean by opening doors in South America with products for the composite industry as well as high performance wipes where Fibertex Nonwovens has a strong position in Europe.
Just eight months after purchasing Duci, in early 2019, Fibertex announced it would expand production at the site by 20% to accommodate growing demand for special purpose products for the automotive and other industries. This investment was estimated at DKK15 million. According to Madsen, the company was able to keep production up and running throughout 2020 despite slowdowns in many markets brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have a strong position in the Brazilian market,” he adds. “In fact, the pandemic brought new customers and new demands for nonwovens.”
In other investment moves, Fibertex has started up nanotechnology applications, restructured production in the Czech Republic and Turkey and optimized production across its European sites. In terms of development and innovation, the company has built a solid portfolio of new projects including new products for automotive and composite industries and for filtration and acoustic purposes, while steadily expanding capacity and upgrading production lines to increase the proportion of value-added products.
For the first half of 2020, a promising start was soon cut short by the impact of the coronavirus in the first quarter. However, Fibertex Nonwovens quickly and successful realigned its production capacity from automotive and industrial purposes to other products in strong demand, thereby increasing its capacity for manufacturing healthcare-related products.
“The coronavirus situation affected operations in Europe, especially in France and the Czech Republic,” Madsen says. “However, we are seeing a recovery in the automotive industry and the European automotive industry is expected gradually to increase volumes, although at a somewhat lower operational level than anticipated at the start of the year. The wipes, filtration and medical markets have seen gains.”