Fitesa


Location: GRAVATAI, BRAZIL

Sales: $103 million

Description: Plant Locations
Gravatai, Brazil; North America

Processes
Spunmelt, meltblown

Major Markets
Hygiene, medical, industrial, filtration, sorbents

Nonwovens sales of $103 million are set to grow higher at Brazil’s Fitesa. In April, the Gravatai-based company, a subsidiary of Petropar S.A., announced plans to invest $120 million in North America with an eye on the hygiene, medical and industrial markets. The new venture will produce high quality, fine denier, lightweight fabrics on two production lines, which have already been ordered. The first line is scheduled to be complete in October 2009 when construction on the second line will begin.
 
The two U.S. lines will together make 40,000 tons of spunmelt nonwovens, the same amount that Fitesa currently makes in Brazil. “We want to match our North American capacity with our South American capacity,” said Fernanda Gastal, director of marketing. “That is the future of our company.”
 
According to executives, the expansion is part of the company's long-term growth strategy and reassures Fitesa’s commitment to its customers within the NAFTA region. The company has extensive experience in the U.S. where it operated a production site in North Carolina from 1991 to 1995 before selling it to Polymer Group.
 
Fitesa’s interest in North America did not end when it sold its North Carolina plant. “We already have a customer base in North America and this will ease capacity on our South American lines to better serve those countries.”
 
Currently about 55-60% of Fitesa’s sales are targeted domestically; export regions include North America, Latin America, Europe and Africa. “NAFTA is our most important market in the world and it is a very competitive market,” Ms. Gastal said. “We are going in there with the best technology, which is what you need to compete.”
 
Fitesa was incorporated in 1973 as a fiber and textile company—parent company Petropar has its roots in forestry—and expanded into nonwovens production in 1989 when it became the first Latin American producer of spunmelt nonwovens. In 1991 it invested in the Mooresville, NC site, which it sold a few years later to narrow its focus on Brazil production.
 
Until 2005, Fitesa continued to operate its two existing spunmelt lines in Brazil. It was that year the company announced it would add a new Reicofil 4 line with a capacity of 15,000 tons per year in Brazil. This line was designed to manufacture hygienic disposable items such as topsheets and leg cuffs for disposable diapers, medical fabrics and other specialty applications.
 
According to executives, the line is a multiple beam state-of-the-art Reicofil 4 with microdenier features that will allow the line to be upgraded at a later stage according to new market requirements.
 
A similar line is currently coming onstream at the company’s Gravatai site. Also at this site are two meltblown lines that target the filtration and sorbents markets."
Location: GRAVATAI, BRAZIL


Sales: $103 Million


Description: Plants
Gravatai, Brazil; North America

Process
Spunmelt, meltblown

Major Markets
Hygiene, medical, industrial, filtration, sorbents

This is the last year Brazilian nonwovens producer Fitesa will appear in the top company report. The company merged its assets with Fiberweb’s North American business in a joint venture earlier this summer. From now on, the group’s results will be included in Fiberweb’s profile.

“Because combining Fiberweb’s spunbond plants in Washougal, WA, Queretaro, Mexico and Simpsonville, as well as Fitesa’s site in Gravatai, Brazil, the joint venture will create a leading producer of spunbond in the Americas with the potential to serve regional and global customers more effectively from its leading asset and technology base,” said Cleber dos Santos, sales manager and vice president,“the investment is targeted to meet the growing demand for sophisticated and ultra lightweight fabrics in North America. By combining the asset base and technology know-how, the joint venture will be able to achieve its value proposition in the short-term.”

The new joint venture company is the second largest maker of spunmelt nonwovens in the Americas with an estimated $200 million combined sales. Included in the deal is a previously announced Fitesa North American operation. This $120 million investment represents a two-line spunmelt operation in Laurens County, SC. When Fitesa announced these two lines in 2008, it said the first line would be complete in October 2009; however, more recent estimates put the startup in late 2010.

In Brazil, Fitesa operates several spunmelt lines targeting hygiene applications as well as two meltblown lines targeting the filtration and sorbents markets. Currently, about 55-60% of its sales are targeted domestically; export regions include North America, Latin America, Europe and Africa. While the North American operation— combined with the Fiberweb partnership will help the company gain exposure to U.S. customers, the company continues to see potential in its home region.

“Latin America keeps demand for nonwovens at an ascending rate, but not at the same rate observed in 2008,” Mr. dos Santos said. “There is a large opportunity in the hygiene and medical business in the region, once the penetration is low. For example, the baby diaper penetration in Brazil is around 35%."
Simpsonville, SC
www.fitesa.com
2011 Nonwovens Sales: $670 million

Key Personnel: Silverio Baranzano, CEO, Hal Singley, CFO

Plants: Gravatai, Brazil; Lima, Peru; Queretaro, Mexico; Simpsonville, SC; Green Bay, WI; Washougal, WA; Norrkoping, Sweden; Peine, Germany; Trezzano Rosa, Italy; Tianjin, China

Processes: Spunbond, SMS, bicomponent spunbond and SMS, meltblown, carded (chemical bonded, thermal bonded, air through bonded), airlaid, laminates

Major Markets: Hygiene, medical and industrial specialties (filtration, agricultural, sorbent)

Back in the fold this year is Fitesa, as a result of Petropar’s acquisition of Fiberweb’s hygiene-related assets in late 2011 in a reported $286 million deal. The investment should propel the Petropar-owned company’s sales to about $700 million up from about $160 million before the acquisition (Petropar’s share of the FitesaFiberweb joint ventures revenues).

Fitesa’s partnership with Fiberweb in the North and South American hygiene markets, which was formed in 2009, helped prepare it for this rapid expansion to become the second largest global spunmelt supplier. “The FitesaFiberweb exercise was a valuable template for the integration of this acquisition, which is proceeding in line with expectations,” says Ray Dunleavy, director of marketing.

Prior to the acquisition, FitesaFiberweb had spunmelt operations in Brazil, South Carolina, Washington and Mexico. The purchase included these assets as well as Fiberweb-owned spunmelt lines in Sweden, Germany and Italy, carding lines in Green Bay, WI, and Simpsonville, SC, as well as airlaid lines in Tianjin, China. The nonwovens research center in Peine, Germany, was also included in the acquisition.

The FitesaFiberweb joint venture had already announced plans to install a spunmelt line in Lima, Peru, as well as a carded line in Brazil. Both of these investments are on track to start contributing to results in the second half of 2012, Dunleavy says. “The spunmelt line in Lima will serve the growing demand from Fitesa’s hygiene customers on the Pacific coast of South America,” he adds. Meanwhile, the new carded line in Gravatai, Brazil—which will be both resin bond and air-through bond capable—will enable Fitesa to meet its customers’ demand for acquisition and distribution layers and other carded applications, including topsheets and backsheets.

In addition, FitesaFiberweb announced it would add two lines in North America when it was first formed in 2009: an SMS bicomponent spunmelt line, which started in 2011; and a second line in 2013-14. That plan has not changed.

As for Asia, this region continues to be on Fitesa’s radar. “It cannot be denied that Asia is an important and rapidly growing market for hygiene products. Fitesa already participates there with its airlaid business in China. We are staying alert for growth opportunities in the region,” Dunleavy says.

As it explores expansion in developing regions, Fitesa expects to see little growth in the next few years in developed regions like the U.S. and Western Europe, where increasing demand for adult incontinence products is being offset by declines in the demand for baby diapers, driven by declining birth rates and lower diaper usage. 
Simpsonville, SC
www.fitesa.com
2012 Nonwovens Sales: $712 million
 
Key Personnel:Silverio Baranzano, CEO, Hal Singley, CFO
 
Plants:Gravatai, Brazil; Lima, Peru; Queretaro, Mexico; Simpsonville, SC; Green Bay, WI; Washougal, WA; Norrkoping, Sweden; Peine, Germany; Trezzano Rosa, Italy; Tianjin, China
 
Processes:Spunbond, SMS, bicomponent spunbond and SMS, meltblown, carded (chemical bonded, thermal bonded, air through bonded), airlaid, laminates
 
Major Markets:Hygiene, medical and industrial specialties (fi ltration, agricultural, sorbent)
 
With new investments in Brazil and Peru onstream, Fitesa continues to expand its presence in the hygiene markets both in South America and around the globe. The U.S.-based nonwovens manufacturer has plants in North America, Europe and China as well as its strong South American presence.
 
In 2012, Fitesa expanded its operation in South Carolina, added a greenfield site near Lima, Peru to better serve customers west of the Andes, and started a new line in Brazil. These investments have already begun contributing to Fitesa’s sales and have helped the company expand its global reach in the hygiene market.
 
Other lines, previously owned by FitesaFiberweb, which are now fully owned by Fitesa, include assets in Brazil, South Carolina, Washington and Mexico. In addition to these lines, Fitesa also gained spunmelt lines in Germany, Italy and Sweden, carding lines in Wisconsin and South Carolina and airlaid lines in Tianjin, China as part of its $286 million purchase of Fiberweb’s hygiene related assets in late 2011. The sale boosted the Evora (formerly Petropar) owned company’s sales from about $160 million to $670 million in 2011 and $712 million in 2012. Ray Dunleavy, the company’s market strategy and business development director, says Fitesa’s partnership with Fiberweb, formed in 2009, helped prepare it to serve the global nonwovens industry.
 
“The joint venture with Fiberweb in 2009, which combined Fitesa’s Brazilian operations with Fiberweb’s North American spunmelt operations, provided the initial learning for expanding the Fitesa business model to new regions. This experience helped us to create the necessary systems and management practices to deal with Fitesa’s global footprint,” he says.
 
As for Asia, this region continues to be on Fitesa’s radar. Back when the company was still affiliated with Fiberweb, the joint venture announced that it was examining the possibility of adding a spunmelt operation in China in partnership with Japan’s JNC Nonwovens (formerly Chisso Corporation) but nothing has been said of this since the Fiberweb purchase. Still, Dunleavy admits that Asia is on its radar for growth when the right opportunity emerges.
 
“It cannot be denied that Asia is an important and rapidly growing market for hygiene products. Fitesa already participates there with its airlaid business in China. We are staying alert for growth opportunities in the region,” he says.
 
As it explores expansion in developing regions, Fitesa expects to see only modest growth in the next few years in developed regions like the U.S. and Western Europe, where increasing demand for adult incontinence products is retarded by declines in demand for baby diapers, driven by declining birth rates and lower diaper usage.
 
“Fitesa is an important participant as one of the top three players in the hygiene market in the Americas and Europe,” Dunleavy says. “We are constantly assessing opportunities, not only in those regions but also in other regions where we have presence, like Asia, or in new geographies, like Africa. Fitesa will always take investment decisions that present an opportunity to better serve our customers and shareholders.”
Simpsonville, SC, U.S.
www.fitesa.com
2013 Nonwovens Sales: $697 million

Key Personnel
Silverio Baranzano, CEO; Hal Singley, CFO  

Plants
Gravatai, Brazil; Lima, Peru; San Jose Iterbide, Mexico; Simpsonville, SC, U.S.; Green Bay, WI, U.S.; Washougal, WA, U.S.; Norrkoping, Sweden; Peine, Germany; Trezzano Rosa, Italy; Tianjin, China  

Processes
Spunbond, SMS, bicomponent spunbond and SMS, meltblown, carded (chemical bonded, thermal bonded, air through bonded), airlaid, laminates  

Major Markets
Hygiene, medical and industrial specialties (filtration, agricultural, sorbent)

Sales increased 11.7% to $697 million at Fitesa. The company shot to its position among the top 10 nonwovens producers in late 2011 when it purchased the hygiene-related assets of former joint venture partner Fiberweb for $286 million. This acquisition, combined with Fitesa’s existing businesses, created a global player in the hygiene market with assets in South, Central and North America, Europe and Asia.

“While we serve the medical and industrial specialties markets, Fitesa is focused on the hygiene market and our customers,” says Ray Dunleavy, market strategy and business development director. “This single-minded focus guides our choice of investments, product development projects and the business decisions we make every day. As long as we do this with excellence in support of our customers, we will grow our position in the market.”

Currently, Fitesa has spunbond and spunmelt operations in Simpsonville, SC and Washougal, WA in the U.S. and also in Mexico, Brazil, Peru, Germany, Sweden and Italy as well as carded operations in Simpsonville and Green Bay, WI and Brazil and an airlaid operation in China serving the feminine hygiene market. Additionally, the company is adding a carded operation in China and expanding capacity in Simpsonville, where a new line should be fully functional in 2015 and nearly double capacity at the site. In Europe, the company expects a new line, which will serve both Eastern and Western markets, to be fully operational in the first half of 2015.

Dunleavy says Fitesa continues to evaluate opportunities to serve hygiene manufacturers in other emerging markets. “Latin America is a growing market for baby diapers and thus an important region for Fitesa,” he says. “We currently serve the East and West coasts of South America from facilities in south Brazil and Lima, Peru and serve customers in Central America and Mexico from our factory in San Jose Iterbide.”

In May, the company said it would add 45,000 tons of spunmelt in South and Central America but remained mum on the exact locations. Executives did say, however, that the first stages of this investment should be complete in early 2015 and the final stages should be complete by the end of 2016. They will cover both the east and west coasts of South America as well as Central America and Mexico.

Dunleavy says that growth in demand for baby diapers has continued in line with expectations in spite of the fact that there has been some dampening of economic growth in the region.

“In the short-term, we are investing in new capacity to support the needs of our customers in existing markets while innovating with new products that deliver added value and differentiation,” says Dunleavy. “For the longer term, we will expand our business geographically in support of our customers when opportunities emerge.”
Fitesa
Simpsonville, SC
www.fitesa.com
2014 Nonwovens Sales: $755 million

Key Personnel

Silverio Baranzano, CEO; Hal Singley, CFO 

Plants
Gravatai, Brazil; Lima, Peru; San Jose Iterbide, Mexico; Simpsonville, SC; Green Bay, WI; Washougal, WA; Norrkoping, Sweden; Peine, Germany; Trezzano Rosa, Italy; Tianjin, China 

Processes
Spunbond, SMS, bicomponent spunbond and SMS, meltblown, carded (chemical bonded, thermal bonded, air through bonded), airlaid, laminates 

Major Markets
Hygiene, medical and industrial specialties (filtration, agricultural, sorbent)

Global sales grew nearly 10% to $755 million in 2014 for Fitesa, a leading global nonwovens producer serving the absorbent hygiene products market. Growth came from the full utilization of capacity installed in late 2012 and early 2013 as well as the startup of a new line in Simpsonville, SC, in the fourth quarter of 2014, operational efficiency improvements throughout Europe and a significant increase in sales of high tech specialty fabrics.

The past few years have been transformative for Fitesa, who partnered with Fiberweb within the hygiene business in the North and South American legs of its business in 2009 before ultimately buying out its partner’s entire hygiene-related asset base in late 2011.
As if this growth weren’t enough, the company has since announced several investments around the world.

“The integration of the Fiberweb acquisition in 2012 was aided by our experience with the integration of the FitesaFiberweb joint venture in 2009,” says director of sales and marketing Ray Dunleavy. “Fitesa did not lose a single executive in the process which was very important to achieve anticipated synergies and guarantee the continuity of the operations at all sites. Top executives participated personally in the integration, conveying Fitesa’s values and principles, respecting local cultures and being close to the “front lines” of the business. In addition, local employees had the chance to experience the Fitesa global mindset by integrating into global committees, joining projects in different regions and participating in exchange programs.”

The company now manufactures spunbond/spunmelt nonwovens, mainly for hygiene applications—in Brazil, Peru, Mexico, South Carolina, Washington, Sweden and Italy—operates a carded line in Wisconsin and a carded line and an airlaid line, acquired from Fiberweb, in Tianjin, China.

“We continue to find opportunities to grow with our hygiene customers. We also see a high level of interest in innovative fabrics that deliver benefits to hygiene product manufacturers in softness, dryness, comfort and fit and differentiation,” Dunleavy says. “One thing is common to every region: margins are tight and customers tend to be large with a lot of purchasing power requiring nonwovens manufacturers to be very cost effective.”

In October 2014, Fitesa proved its commitment to being a large, multinational company when it confirmed its global growth plan. Included in these efforts are a 20,000-ton line in Sao Paulo, Brazil, an expansion to an existing line in Lima, Peru and a new spunmelt line in Norrköping, Sweden. These latest investments are on top of other expansions Fitesa has made since acquiring the Fiberweb business including a new carded line, capable of making air through bonded and resin bonded products, in Tianjin, China and a second line in Simpsonville, SC. These efforts have increased Fitesa’s size as well as its global scale.

Fitesa’s recent investment in Brazil includes a new state-of-the-art line in Sao Paolo that meets the growing demand of hygiene manufacturers in South America. It will be housed in a brand new facility in Sao Paolo, Fitesa’s second location in Brazil.

“We select sites for investment based on the needs of our customers, the potential growth of the market and consequently that of our customers,” Dunleavy adds. “In South America the penetration of hygiene products is still increasing, despite the recent macroeconomic challenges in the region. Our customers install new converting equipment to meet those needs and we support them with capacity expansions. Brazil’s demand for spunbond/spunmelt accounts for more than 50% of the demand in South America. This plant shows a strong commitment to our customers and represents a growth in supply of about 30% from Fitesa to the South American market.”

In August, Fitesa proved it wasn’t done investing yet, announcing plans to build a third spunmelt line in San Jose Iturbide, Mexico. The line, which is scheduled to be complete in late 2016, will help serve hygiene markets in North and Central America.

“The Mexican market is very integrated with the U.S. and will enable us to localize production of spunbond/spunmelt and establish a solid platform for exports,” Dunleavy says.

Meanwhile, Fitesa’s second U.S. line, located in Simpsonville, SC, has been operational since the fourth quarter of 2014 and is responding to growth in the U.S. market.

“The U.S. disposable hygiene market continues to grow, although now primarily in adult incontinence products,” Dunleavy says. “As a result, spunbond/spunmelt demand will continue to grow.”

In European investment news, Fitesa completed work on a new spunmelt line in Sweden during the first quarter and has been supporting the needs of customers in Eastern and Western Europe, which is still growing despite its maturity. The company also operates spunmelt plants in Germany and Italy.

As it continues to invest aggressively in the Americas and Europe, Fitesa’s focus on Asia and other developed regions has not been so great. The company currently has only airlaid and carded assets in China and no operation in the Middle East, markets that have seen a great deal of interest from other spunmelt manufacturers in recent years.

Dunleavy would not speculate on Fitesa’s next investment.

“We are focused on meeting the needs of our hygiene customers, many of which do business outside our current market area. We are well aware of the rapid growth of absorbent hygiene products in developing regions,” Dunleavy concludes. “We will expand in those regions where and when we see an opportunity with our current customers or a demand that is not being met by local producers.”
Simpsonville, SC
www.fitesa.com
2015 Nonwovens Sales: $706 million


Key Personnel
Silverio Baranzano, CEO; Hal Singley, CFO

Plants
Gravatai, Brazil; Cosmopolis, Brazil; Lima, Peru; San Jose Iturbide, Mexico; Simpsonville, SC; Green Bay, WI; Washougal, WA; Norrkoping, Sweden; Peine, Germany; Trezzano Rosa, Italy; Tianjin, China

Processes
Spunbond, SMS, bicomponent spunbond and SMS, meltblown, carded (chemical bonded, thermal bonded, air through bonded), airlaid, laminates

Major Markets
Hygiene, medical and industrial specialties (filtration, agricultural, sorbent)


Investment continues to be a top priority for Fitesa, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of spunmelt nonwovens as new lines continue to be installed throughout the Americas and Europe. In 2015, volumes continued to climb thanks to the company’s commitment to investment and growth in the hygiene market, but sales decreased from $755 million to $706 million due to lower raw material prices.

Recent line investments include a spunmelt line in Norrkoping, Sweden in early 2015, a new spunmelt line at a new site in Cosmopolis, Brazil, near Sao Paulo—Fitesa’s second facility in this country—earlier this year. Additionally, a new line is scheduled to come onstream in San Jose Iturbide, Mexico later this year and new lines will start up in Peine, Germany and Simpsonville, SC in 2017. The Mexican line is that site’s third while the Simpsonville investment is line number four there. Fitesa established the Simpsonville operation in 2008 and added a third line there in 2014.

“In August 2015, we announced an additional investment of $160 million to support customer needs in Europe, the U.S. and South America, adding 60,000 metric tons of capacity globally,” says director of marketing Ray Dunleavy.

This $160 million investment includes the new lines in Germany and Simpsonville as well as a third line at a yet-to-be-determined location. The majority of Fitesa’s customers are in the hygiene market and the company meets their needs with modern, state-of-the-art equipment that delivers technologically advanced fabrics with superior properties and consistency, according to Dunleavy. This allows hygiene manufacturers to differentiate their products from their competitors.

These new lines not only offer advanced technology, they allow Fitesa the tonnage needed to meet their customers’ growth. Elsewhere, Fitesa operates spunbond/spunmelt lines in Washougal, WA, Gravatai, Brazil, Trezzano Rosa, Italy and Lima, Peru

“We strive to be the preferred supplier of nonwoven fabrics to the global hygiene industry.

“These investments enable us to provide the volume that our customers need for their businesses, but importantly, they allow us to deliver the innovative fabrics that will help them to differentiate their product offerings,” Dunleavy adds.

All of this investment is a continuation of the same growth strategy Fitesa has been focusing on since acquiring the hygiene assets formerly owned by Fiberweb in 2012. This deal propelled Fitesa, which is owned by Evora, to a position among the world’s top nonwovens manufacturers.

In addition to spunmelt lines throughout Europe and the Americas, Fitesa also has an airlaid operation in Tianjin, China where it has recently added a carded line. To date, Fitesa has not invested in spunmelt technology in Asia, despite that region’s growth prospects.

Dunleavy would not comment specifically on Fitesa’s plans for developing regions.

“We are focused on meeting the needs of our hygiene customers, many of which have business beyond our current market area,” he says. “We are well aware of the rapid growth of hygiene products in developing regions. We will expand into those regions where and when we see an opportunity with our customers or a demand not being filled by our competitors.”

For now, Fitesa plans to capitalize on growth from its existing locations, confident that needs continue to exist for spunmelt investment.

“We would not have invested in the U.S., Mexico, South America and Europe unless we were confident that there would be demand for our new capacity,” Dunleavy says.
Gravataí, Brazil
www.fitesa.com
2016 Nonwovens Sales: $708 million


Key Personnel
Silverio Baranzano, CEO; Hal Singley, CFO

Plants
Gravataí, Brazil; Cosmopolis, Brazil; Lima, Peru; San Jose Iturbide, Mexico; Simpsonville, SC; Green Bay, WI; Washougal, WA; Norrkoping, Sweden; Peine, Germany; Trezzano Rosa, Italy; Tianjin, China

Processes
Spunbond, SMS, bicomponent spunbond and SMS, meltblown, carded (chemical bonded, thermal bonded, air through bonded), airlaid, laminates

Major Markets
Hygiene, medical and industrial specialties (filtration, agricultural, sorbent)

Investment continues to be a winning strategy for Fitesa, a manufacturer of spunmelt nonwovens for hygiene applications. In 2016, sales were up only slightly to $708 million but the company reported record volumes within its spunmelt business. And, these volumes will likely continue their ascent on the heels of continued investment in North and South America and in Europe.

“Since 2005, Fitesa has been growing its marketshare and production capacity at exponential rates, having invested in 13 new lines and two greenfield operations,” says Mariana Mynarski, global marketing. “We accredit this impressive growth to our talented and experienced team, a well-designed and executed strategy and the commitment of our shareholders with the future of the business. At Fitesa, we strive to be the preferred choice for the supply of nonwovens for the hygiene industry not only today, but for the long run.”

Recent investments at Fitesa have included new lines in Europe, North America and South America. All of these lines have not only increased production capacity but also complemented Fitesa’s technology portfolio, bringing production closer to the customers.

“It also enabled us to continue developing differentiated products with state-of-the-art technologies, that will support our customers in developing more innovative solutions to meet consumer’s demands,” she says.

Surely, all of this investment has paid off. Since the company as we know it was formed in late 2011 when it purchased the hygiene assets once owned by its former partner Fiberweb, Fitesa’s sales have grown from $160 million to over $700 million while its capacity has exploded. All of theses investments have taken place in the Americas and Europe, leaving a hole in Fitesa’s global footprint—Asia—but executives have not commented on when or where the next investment will be.

“Fitesa is constantly looking for opportunities and will continue to invest globally in order to fulfill our vision of being the preferred choice for the supply of nonwoven fabrics to the global hygiene industry,” Mynarski says.

As the world continues to go through important demographic changes that will impact the global nonwovens industry, manufacturers of nonwovens will continue to investment in new capacity to continue to penetrate hygiene disposable products. “Economies of scale and reducing transportation costs and lead times will remain paramount for competitiveness,” Mynarski says. “Nevertheless, these will be secondary to the innovation capabilities and service levels, as the markets are becoming more complex in terms of quality requirements and regional specificities.”

In February 2017, Fitesa showed it’s not only interested in growth through acquisition, when it acquired Pantex, a maker of topsheet materials and elastics bands for diapers and other hygiene products, from the Italian private equity firm Quadrivio Capital.

Based in Italy, Pantex also manufactures materials for topsheets at sites in South Carolina and the UAE.

Mynarski says that Pantex was attractive to the company because its technology—which mainly includes composites and specialty nonwovens—complements Fitesa’s portfolio of spunmelt, carded and airlaid nonwovens with a range of specialty products for applications in baby care, feminine hygiene, and adult incontinence, as well as medical, agricultural, and industrial products.

“Fitesa and Pantex have complementary product lines, which will expand our portfolio and allow us to provide a more comprehensive and integrated solution to our customers,” she explains, adding that growth, in whatever form, is always a priority for Fitesa.

“Fitesa is constantly looking for opportunities and does not discard the possibility of new investments that brings us closer to our vision of being the preferred choice for the supply of nonwoven fabrics to the global hygiene industry,” she says.
Gravatai, Brazil
www.fitesa.com
2017 Nonwovens Sales: $838 million


Key Personnel
Silverio Baranzano, CEO; Hal Singley, CFO

Plants
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

Processes
Spunbond, SMS, bicomponent spunbond, meltblown, carded (chemical bonded, thermal bonded, air through bonded), airlaid, elastic films & laminates, perforated films, nonwovens and composites

Major Markets
Hygiene, medical and industrial specialties (filtration, agricultural, sorbents)


Fitesa, Brazil’s largest nonwovens manufacturer, is poised to extend its manufacturing footprint into Southeast Asia. In July, the company acquired a 51% stake of spunbond nonwovens maker CNC International. The Rayong, Thailand-based company largely serves the Southeast Asian markets from two sites in Rayong and a sales office in Tokyo, Japan. It will now be known as FitesaCNC. The joint venture will focus on the hygiene market – in line with the rest of the Fitesa business.

CNC’s last major investment was a 24,000-ton Reicofil 4 production line in 2013 and its current capacity is thought to be about 40,000 tons per year. Owned by the CPPC Group, which falls under the umbrella of Charoen Pokphand Group (CP), the largest agriculture-based conglomerate in Thailand, CNC was founded in 1994 when CPPC decided to diversify into nonwovens.

Originally founded as a 50/50 joint venture company between Fitesa’s former partner Fiberweb and CPPC, CPPC purchased all of the shares of CNC in late 2006. At the time of this purchase, executives referred to the move as a clear example of its intention of having CNC grow along with its key customers in the region.

Fitesa did not comment on the value of the transaction nor the company’s revenues, but executives did say the acquisition represents the company’s first step into one of the world’s fastest growing regions for spunbonded nonwovens and hygiene products.

While this is Fitesa’s first Asian investment, the company has aggressively invested in the Americas and Europe in recent years, adding lines with a total of 140,000 metric tons of capacity in the U.S., Mexico, Brazil, Sweden and Germany since 2015. In 2017, sales growth reflected this investment, increasing from $708 million to $838 million.

“Since 2005, Fitesa has been growing its market share and production capacity at exponential rates, having invested in 16 new lines and two greenfield lines,” Mariana Mynarski, global marketing, says. “We accredit this impressive growth to our talented and experienced team, a well-designed and executed strategy and the commitment of our shareholders with the future of the business.”

Demand for Fitesa’s main product, spunmelt nonwovens, continues to grow in the low- to mid-single digit range, depending on the geography and sales have risen accordingly. In mature markets such as North America and Europe baby care shows zero or very moderate growth rates.

However, a growing aging population drives growth in adult incontinence applications. Asia presents higher growth rates, mostly driven by baby diapers, while Latin America currently sees a lower growth, affected by macro conditions in the region.

While the Latin American region is challenged by some economic factors, Fitesa considers the hygiene market demand to be stable, and expects it to recover. In 2016, the company added a new plant in Cosmopolis (Brazil), located 135 kilometers from the city of Sao Paulo, allowing it to strengthen its presence in the Southeast region of the country.” The Cosmopolis plant is providing a more responsive service to our customers’ demands in the region,” Mynarski says. “In addition, this factory features Latin America’s first bicomponent spunbond production line, able to manufacture some of Fitesa’s most innovative products.”

In February 2017, Fitesa diversified outside of spunmelt nonwovens production through the acquisition of Pantex, a manufacturer of elastic films & laminates, perforated films, nonwovens and composites from Italian private equity firm Qualdrivio Capital. Based in Italy, Pantex also has operations in South Carolina and the UAE.

“Fitesa and Pantex have complementary product lines, which expands our portfolio and allows us to provide a more comprehensive and integrated solution to our customers,” Mynarski says.

Amidst this growth, sustainability continues to be a top priority for Fitesa.

In 2017, the company launched its updated Sustainability Policy, which advocates responsible management of natural resources and commits to working toward a sustainable society. In it, Fitesa approaches from complying with all legal requirements to reduce its environmental impact and increase its social contribution. The main environmental impacts addressed in the policy are the consumption of electricity, CO2 emission and waste disposal.

“Most of the nonwoven fabrics we produce are made from polypropylene and polyethylene derived from oil and natural gas, non-renewable goods that tend to become increasingly scarce in the future,” Mynarski says. “Therefore, one of our engineers’ main focus of research and innovation is the development of sustainable nonwoven fabrics. We have been producing such sustainable nonwoven fabrics successfully for over 10 years.”

And, research and development efforts are poised to continue strong as Fitesa has recently completed work on pilot lines at innovation centers in Peine, Germany, and Sulmona, Italy, and is in the final phases of starting up a new Innovation Center in Simpsonville, SC.
Gravatai, Brazil
www.fitesa.com
2018 Nonwovens Sales: $988 million


Key Personnel
Silverio Baranzano, CEO; Hal Singley, CFO

Plants
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

Processes
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.”
Porto Alegre, Brazil
www.fitesa.com
2019 Nonwovens Sales: $980 million


Key Personnel
Silverio Baranzano, CEO; Hal Singley, CFO

Plants
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

Processes
Spunbond, SMS, bicomponent spunbond, meltblown, carded (chemical bonded, thermal bonded, air through bonded), airlaid, films, elastics, laminates and composites

The first full year effects of the acquisition of FitesaCNC as well as higher raw material costs helped drive sales upward for Brazil’s largest nonwovens producers, Fitesa. The company reported sales of $980 million last year.

In February 2020, Fitesa completed the acquisition of Freudenberg’s South American hygiene business including a state-of-the-art production facility as well as a professional and well-trained workforce. The site mainly makes carded air through bonded nonwovens for hygiene applications. “Although it has not expanded our technology portfolio, it significantly increased our production capacity for these products, and provided us with a very experienced team and portfolio that added great value to our carded business,” says Mariana Mynarski, corporate marketing, Fitesa.

In May, amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, Fitesa announced it had signed a contract for four projects with equipment supplier Reicofil for installations all over the world. While the company won’t offer specific details yet, it did say the project includes state-of-the-art equipment spanning multiple technologies and will significantly increase capacity in several markets.

In August, Fitesa announced the expansion of its films, elastics and laminates business with the acquisition of Tredegar Corporation’s Personal Care Films division. When approved by the applicable regulatory agencies, this operation will add five production sites to Fitesa’s footprint, as well as mark the start of the company’s manufacturing operations in three new countries: The Netherlands, Hungary and India.

Fitesa is one of the largest nonwovens manufacturers in the world with one of the widest geographical scopes. The company develops innovative solutions for the hygiene and healthcare markets using a broad range of technologies that include spunbond, carded, airlaid, films, elastics and laminates. Headquartered in Porto Alegre, Brazil, Fitesa currently operates 16 manufacturing locations across 10 countries: Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Italy, Sweden, Germany, the U.S., the UAE, Thailand and China. In the last two years, the company made significant investments to expand its global footprint and innovation capabilities, with the acquisition of 51% of the shares of CNC International, a Southeast Asia-based manufacturer of spunmelt nonwovens, and the subsequent investment of a new line at the site as well as the startup of a new Innovation Center and pilot line in Simpsonville, SC.

The new FitesaCNC line is expected to start up Q4 2020, increasing the company’s total Asian capacity to 90,000 metric tons per year.

Hygiene, which is the largest market for Fitesa and for spunmelt nonwovens in general, has been showing a slow growth compared to its potential, largely due to economic and political turbulence in developing countries. Adult care growth has remained high even through the pandemic in 2020, mainly due to low penetration levels. Innovation remains key for all markets, with a special focus on cost due to the current situation and to representativeness of developing economies in the world.

Fitesa has been able to remain competitive thanks to its state-of-the-art asset base, which is described as one of the most modern asset bases in the industry. Additionally, Fitesa is the only spunmelt supplier with four innovation centers and three pilot lines.

“Nevertheless, we believe our corporate culture has also been key to our successful growth in recent years,” Mynarski says. “We have always focused on building long-term business relationships with our partners, as well as we’ve had the discipline with cost control and continuous improvement. This focus has been key in overcoming the challenges we have faced in this trajectory. It is only the combination of people expertise, the right assets and a well-established culture that will enable the successful execution of a good business strategy.”

This allows Fitesa to respond to constantly evolving customer needs and to maintain a close relationship with its customers. “Our sales and technical service teams are constantly working to better understand and improve our customers’ experience, and we are always ready to promote the connection among other departments when needed,” Mynarski adds.
Porto Alegre, Brazil
www.fitesa.com
2020 Nonwovens Sales: $1.13 billion


Key Personnel
Silverio Baranzano, CEO; Hal Singley, CFO

Plants
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

Processes
Spunbond, SMS, bicomponent spunbond, meltblown, carded (chemical bonded, thermal bonded, air through bonded), airlaid, films, elastics, laminates and composites

Investment continues to be a priority for Fitesa. The Brazilian based manufacturer of spunmelt, spunlace and meltblown nonwovens continues to add new lines and make acquisitions to respond to the demand of its customers in the global hygiene market.

The company’s latest investment is a state-of-the art Reicofil 5 spunmelt nonwovens line at its site in Simpsonville, SC, which was announced in January and scheduled for start up late next year.

Executives are describing the new machine as one-of-a-kind due to the unique versatility in producing differentiated materials for a wide range of applications and markets. One key feature is the capacity to convert bio and circular polymers into high quality and high productivity spunbond nonwovens.

“We have always said that Fitesa is a company created and managed for the long term,” says Mariana Mynarski, corporate marketing. “We are now starting a new round of investments that will have a significant impact in the sustainability profile of our asset base. These technologies will enable us to go beyond the biobased content and ‘drop-in’ solutions that have been available in the market so far, and to create a new layer of more sustainable spunmelt products, including circular polymers. This will support our customers in the increasing demand of sustainable content and carbon footprint reduction.”

In addition to the South Carolina investment, Fitesa announced a comprehensive expansion program in November 2020, which will add 55,000 tons to its global output. Included in this investment is adding a multibeam Reicofil line, which is scheduled to begin the commercialization process later this year in Cosmopolis, Brazil, making the site one of the most advanced spunmelt nonwovens lines in the region. Meanwhile, in the meltblown market Fitesa upgraded and redesigned one existing meltblown line and added a second state-of-the-art meltblown line to its site in Gravatai, Brazil, in spring 2020. Together, the two investments increased Fitesa’s production capacity in the region by 30,000 metric tons and tripled the company’s pure meltblown supply availability, fulfilling the rising demand from the healthcare and hygiene markets.

Fitesa has also added meltblown capacity in Trezzano Rosa, Italy, Peine, Germany and Simpsonville, SC, which came onstream in late 2020 and early 2021. These lines also contributed to Fitesa’s product portfolio for surgical masks and respirators.

The expansion of its meltblown market was a natural progression of Fitesa’s healthcare business and its position as a leader in the Latin American market. “Early in the pandemic we saw the opportunity to extend this expertise to the other regions where we operate,” Mynarski adds. “Nevertheless, in order to have the desired impact, the investment in five new meltblown lines was approved in record time, and all of them were in production by January 2021.”

In addition to these new line investments, Fitesa is increasing production volumes, modernizing assets and enhancing the flexibility of the current asset base. These efforts have added another 20,000 metric tons of spunmelt capacity which is split evenly between the U.S. and Europe, serving the healthcare and hygiene markets.

Fitesa is also adding a spunlace line to its site in Jacarei, Brazil. This site was acquired this site from Freudenberg in December 2019.

The investment will primarily serve current and new customers in the baby wipes market and is planned to start-up in the first quarter of 2022. The line is equipped with the customized Jetlace hydroentanglement unit and neXdry through-air-dryer from Andritz and will produce premium quality of spunlace roll goods. The line is designed to operate a variety of raw materials, including biobased, recycled and circular fibers.

“We have produced carded nonwovens for many years, and recently identified the potential for spunlace in Latin America,” Mynarski says. “Fitesa is committed in supplying nonwovens’ solutions to the hygiene and healthcare markets, and that means that we are open to explore new technologies as the opportunities arise.”

Meanwhile, in Thailand Fitesa completed work on a third spunmelt line at a site it acquired a majority stake in from CNC in July 2019. This multi-beam Reicofil line represented a reported $70 million investment from Fitesa.

In other acquisition news, in June 2020 Fitesa acquired Fiber Dynamics, a High Point, NC-based manufacturer of meltblown and carded nonwovens for disinfectant wipes, filtration, face masks, automotive, medical, hygiene and other industrial wipes. The acquisition strengthened Fitesa’s asset base to serve the healthcare market, especially the wipes segment, and the company expects to expand its role in these markets with additional investments in upcoming months.

Fitesa has also used acquisition as a vehicle to expand into adjacent markets to benefit its hygiene customers. In August 2020, Fitesa announced an agreement to purchase films maker Tredegar Personal Care, which expanded a films business purchased through the acquisition of Pantex in 2017.

“The acquisition of Tredegar) is another example of our willingness to explore new technologies to better serve the markets we operate in,” Mynarski says. “The acquisition of Tredegar Personal Care significantly expanded the global reach of our Films & Elastics business, initiated in 2017 with the acquisition of Pantex. Customers and suppliers have been extremely welcoming, and this business has fundamentally increased our understanding of the needs and trends of hygiene products.”