Giorgio Mantovani, MD of Corman, with a presence in both Milano and New York, discusses the vast world of fem-care products and baby-care products, market prospects, current and future trends.
Please share the strengths of Corman and also the challenges it faces. What steps are required to meet these challenges?
When Corman S.p.A. was founded in Italy in 1947 during the post-War era, its beginning was quite humble: as a manufacturer of textile medical devices. Its philosophy of operating at the highest level of integrity originates from the same founding family which runs the company today, adding a strong measure of continuity at the highest level. The company's mission has always been excellence in development and manufacturing.
In the 1980s, Corman began developing and selling feminine care products, and grew to become the market leader for branded feminine care products in the Italian pharmacy channel.
Today, Corman has grown to become a world player, distributed over 26 countries with full lines of branded and private labels; 100 per cent cotton feminine care including tampons, pads and panty liners; 100 per cent incontinence pads and 100 per cent cotton care and baby products.
The feminine care category as a whole is essentially stable and category growth is clearly dependent on population trends. Price is a barrier, especially considering that our products are made of cotton. And the price of raw cotton is, understandably, key to the financial health of any business in the nonwovens category.
The usual major players dominate the fem-care market with life-long, brand-loyal consumers. In addition, they have sophisticated marketing and budgets to match.
To meet this challenge, education is the key when selling cotton products, providing consumers with the knowledge to understand our products' value proposition and why they should be willing to pay more. In addition, children of the baby-boomlet of the 80s and 90s appear willing to experiment with alternatives and new products.
Which are the core areas that you work in technical textiles and what is the growth potential in each niche?
Corman has played a key role in the growing popularity of products with cotton and organic cotton versus products made with synthetic fibres such as rayon and cellulose. This includes both branded and private label feminine care, light-incontinence products as well as beauty and baby products.
The benefits of cotton in every category we work in, are becoming clearer to our constituents. We have already seen an impressive growth in feminine care with both cotton and organic cotton products. This includes both branded and store-brand products. We firmly believe cotton will play an increasing role in the beauty and baby categories. The simple reason is that cotton is perceived as softer and gentler on skin, while it has been proven to prevent and reduce irritation. With cotton as the key, we are quite bullish on our growth prospects.
Which are your biggest markets? Where does Asia feature in your growth strategy? Which are the countries seeking more technical textile?
North America and Europe are still our biggest areas of growth. Interestingly, there are many other countries in Asia and the Middle East where our 100 per cent cotton tampons and pads are experiencing growth as well. Moreover, the prospects for China are extremely exciting, and we expect to see increasing success there as well.
How has your business grown in the last two years? What is your target growth for the next two years?
Consumer interest in cotton and organic cotton, for all its tactile and health benefits, has been gaining interest since the mid-2000s and has picked up greater strength more recently. While we have seen growth rates over 30 per cent in United States of America and international growth approaching 50 per cent, we believe in the next two years, some of our businesses will double in revenue.
What new applications do you foresee in the near future for nonwoven and converting sectors?
The incontinence sector should continue to see further expansion as the population ages and 'baby boomers' age in the United States of America. At the same time, baby diapers should see growth in cotton, with parents increasingly focused on natural products for their young children.