Senior Vice President
Suominen Corporation is a manufacturer of nonwovens as roll goods for wipes and for hygiene products and medical applications. Wiping products made of Suominen’s nonwovens include wet wipes for personal hygiene, baby care, household and industrial applications. The company’s hygiene and medical application products include sanitary pads, diapers, adult incontinence products, surgical drapes and swabs. Lynda Kelly, senior vice president, Care business area of Suominen, talks about the potential of the Asian hygiene market.
Which core areas do you work in? What is the growth potential in each niche?
The Suominen Group develops and manufactures nonwovens for three markets: for various wiping, medical and hygiene applications. These three markets are growing globally, even in developed regions like North America. Our target markets are forecast to grow annually by two to nine per cent, depending on the product segment and geographical region.
Suominen's Care business area focus on nonwovens for medical and hygiene
o medical means, for example, nonwoven components for wound care, surgical drapes, accessories and advanced wound care applications
o hygiene means nonwoven components for absorbent hygiene products, such as adult incontinence, baby diapers and feminine hygiene products
Which are your biggest markets? Where does Asia feature in your growth strategy? Which are the countries seeking more technical textiles?
Our biggest markets are Europe and the Americas. Additionally, we have had a foothold in South America since the acquisition of the Paulinia plant in Brazil in 2014. We still see growth in our current market areas and while Asia is a very interesting market region, it is not Suominen's focus during the current strategy period of 2015 to 2017. To succeed in Asia, we believe a local manufacturing footprint will be needed.
What are your opinions on the nonwoven industry in Asia? What are the challenges facing the growth of the nonwoven industry in emerging markets?
Asia is a fast-growing market for nonwovens and has attracted significant investments from many multinational companies. It will continue to be an attractive market, given its low penetration rates, growing middle class and increased usage of consumer products. A major growth challenge in this emerging market is the sizable demographic of the millennial population in India and China. This segment is quite large but their overall income is lower than in developed markets. Consequently, companies need to balance their product offerings with what the market will pay. This can be quite a product design challenge.
How has your business grown in the last two years? What is your target for the next two?
Even though Suominen does have earlier experience and solid knowledge in nonwovens for medical and hygiene applications, Suominen actually established its Care business area only two years ago. So we have built the basics, established internal teams, built customer relationships, which obviously takes some time. The Care business area intends to play an important role in the growth strategy of the entire Suominen Group. If the group succeeds in the implementation of its business strategy, net sales will increase to roughly Euro 500 million in 2017.