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The World Nonwovens Industry: Profiles of Ten Leading Producers

3 February 2010, Manchester – According to a 64 page report published by textiles Intelligence in December 2009, worldwide sales of nonwoven roll goods grew by only 3% in 2008 to reach US$17.3 bn. Sales of the world’s leading ten companies ranged from US$250 million to US$1.45 billion and totalled almost US$8.9 bn. All companies except Fiberweb and DuPont increased their sales, the report says.

The report says Freudenberg remained the number one player, although poor economic conditions have forced the company to close operations serving the automotive market and improve efficiencies at others. In 2008 it launched a new product range in the USA made from post-consumer recycled (PCR) polymer obtained from polyester (PET) bottles, and has plans to develop its Evolon microfilament spunlaced fabric.

Some of the other highlights of the report are:

DuPont Nonwovens’ sales rose slightly in 2008 thanks to a focus on brands, technology and added &value, as well as investment in Eastern Europe, South America and Asia. The company has combined its nonwovens business with its Advanced Fiber Systems and Personal Protection units.

Kimberly-Clark’s Partnership Products business achieved success in 2008 thanks to market recovery and geographical expansion. The company stands to benefit from an improvement plan and fast growth in emerging markets in BRICIT (Brazil, Russia, India, China, Indonesia and Turkey) countries.

Ahlstrom’s nonwovens business also achieved growth in 2008 but the company has faced significant challenges throughout many of its businesses. These have led to some staff reductions and the consolidation of some of its operations, particularly in the wipes sector.

Sales at Polymer Group Inc (PGI) have been boosted by new spunmelt capacity in Argentina, Mexico and China, and by success with the company’s new generation Spinlace nonwovens. In November 2009 the company purchased the Tesalca-Texnovo nonwovens businesses in Spain from Grupo Corinpa.

At Fiberweb, the benefits obtained from a turnaround programme continue to drive up profits. This company has joined with Brazil’s Fitesa to re-enter the North American spunmelt market with a new investment in Simpsonville, South Carolina.

Johns Manville has benefited from new products and international expansion, notably in Central and Eastern Europe and China.

At Fibertex, the personal care division continues to thrive but the industrial side of the business is awaiting recovery.

Avgol is on track to complete its second Chinese line in mid-2010 as its facility in Mocksville, North Carolina, undergoes improvements.

First Quality Nonwovens, a maker of spunmelt nonwovens for hygiene and medical, continues to expand in diapers and has diversified into spunlaced nonwovens.

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