A visible trend in nonwovens & converting sector is specialisation
Larry L Kinn, Senior Vice President - Operations Americas of Suominen Corporation talks about the nonwovens industry for wiping, medical and hygiene products.
Suominen is focused on nonwovens for wiping, medical and hygiene products. The overall global market for nonwovens is growing approximately five per cent annually. We have estimated that in the markets Suominen has selected --- nonwovens for wiping, medical and hygiene products in Americas and Europe --- the annual growth is some three per cent. However, it is good to keep in mind that these figures are averages. We have identified interesting opportunities in certain pockets of the market where growth rates are higher.
North America and Europe are our main market. Moreover, we gained a foothold into the growing South American market through an acquisition in February 2014. We have some exports to Asia at the moment. But as we have already stated, during the current strategic period (2015 - 2017), we are not actively seeking opportunities to expand in Asia. In this strategic period, we will focus on organic growth in our current market regions.
Even though our focus for the last two years has been more on building common company culture and securing our financial strength, we have been able to increase net sales. Considering the future, by succeeding in the implementation of our strategy, our net sale is estimated to grow to the vicinity of EUR 500 million by the end of 2017.
In recent years, we have spent approximately one per cent of our net sales in R&D. In this strategic period, our focus is on achieving growth and product leadership, which obviously further strengthens the importance of new product development at Suominen.
We continue to see opportunities for nonwovens in replacing textiles and other materials in various markets, including wipes, hygiene and medical space. We have seen just a fraction of the possibilities of nonwovens in bringing exceptional features to end products when combined in a new way. For instance, combining features of nonwovens with features of foam will deliver a superior wound-care product. A visible trend is that we continue to see specialisation. More and more specific products will be developed for very specific end-use applications. Sustainability is also one of the prevailing megatrends. One could say it is a pre-requisite for businesses to enter any market today. Nonwovens are no exception here. We will be using more and more natural (eg cellulosic) fibres to create products that, for example, meet the requirements set by consumers for the later part of the lifecycle of a nonwoven product.
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