The constant consolidation that has been driving the industry during the past two decades has meant that our list of top producers is also constantly changing from year to year, not only with old companies leaving and new companies entering the list, but with other companies dramatically changing their positions, either through investment, acquisitions or organic sales growth.
This year, we said goodbye to one of the largest manufacturers of spunmelt nonwovens in the world—First Quality Nonwovens—which was acquired by the owners of PFNonwovens (formerly Pegas Nonwovens) to form a global producer of spunmelt nonwovens with plants in the U.S., Africa, China and Eastern Europe. The merger of these two companies also dramatically brought up PFNonwovens’ position in the rankings, and the Czech-based company is now one of the top 10 producers of nonwovens in the world.
Also, this year, we said hello to some new companies. Most notably, Halyard Health, a maker and user of spunmelt fabrics for medical applications, which appeared for the first time in the report at number 35. Halyard Health was spun-off from Kimberly-Clark a few years ago and is now owned by Owens & Minor.
Looking ahead, we can expect more changes in the top company report. Georgia-Pacific late last year sold its European operation to Glatfelter meaning that both of these companies will see dramatic changes in sales and rankings. Also, Lydall and Fibertex Nonwovens continue to make acquisitions that are broadening their businesses and increasing their sales. We have already seen the results of these efforts as the companies continue to climb up the ladder.
And, according to industry experts, consolidation will only continue. Many companies will require this to survive, so who knows who will be the next company impacted by this activity. Remember, the world’s largest nonwovens producer in the world—Berry Global—rose to the top by acquiring many former top companies—PGI, Fiberweb, Companhia Providencia, to name a few.