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Corovin: three JV's = one strong company.

For the past five years, Corovin GmbH, Peine, Germany, has been an active participant in the nonwovens industry, increasing sales in leaps and bounds from the mid-1980's until today. Neither a change in ownership several years ago or the current German economy has slowed it down as it continues to consistently increase capacity, initiate joint venture agreements and investigate growth opportunities around the globe. The past year at the 25th largest roll goods company has not proven to be any different, as Corovin signed three joint development agreements and is reportedly keeping its options open in several other areas as well.

The first of the joint development agreements, with nonwovens fiber supplier Danaklon, Varde, Denmark, entails the development of a specific nonwovens project. The joint project, signed in April, includes the development of a highloft nonwoven material for application in the coverstock market, although other end uses will also be investigated. "Using the broad background of both companies, we believe this is very important in terms of technological development and a strategic partnership with opportunities in many areas," said Corovin marketing director Andreas Kirsch of the agreement.

The second joint development program links Corovin with M&W Packaging, a member of the Nordenia International Group, Gronau, Germany. Under terms of this program, the companies will use their combined film and nonwovens knowhow to jointly develop hygiene products. Specific products include a nonwoven/laminate textile backsheet--which is attractive economically--and an elastic nonwoven composite material--capitalizing on M&W's broad knowledge in this field--targeting end uses such as training pants. Because of the success of the program thus far, the companies are already planning to build a joint production facility, although at this time the location and time frame for the plant is undecided.

Finally, Corovin has also signed an agreement with Neotex, a Czech company that is a division of Pegas, Bucovice, Czech Republic. The Czech company manufactures spunbonded nonwovens using Reifenhauser technology; the alliance gives Corovin better access to the Eastern European market. The companies are currently collaborating on the sales and marketing of Neotex's products, with plans to form a joint venture company at some time in the future.

In commenting on all the alliances, Mr. Kirsch said, "Setting up strategic alliances is significant for the company policy of Corovin. These alliances enable us to continue to accelerate the previous expansion course and to link knowhow potential of various fields and efficiently utilize them for the development of completely new solutions."

Corovin's policy for the past several years has been very straightforward in terms of goals and its methods of achieving these goals. "The future is composites," said managing director Peter Kociemba. "We use partnerships to successfully put materials together. It all goes into a black box and comes out as a composite," he said.

Mr. Kociemba addressed the hygiene market as an example. "There will no longer be spunbonded or thermal bonded coverstock," he said. "The possibilities of composite materials with spunbondeds are tremendous, the flexibility is there and so much can be done in-line. Thin diapers with lofty coverstock are the future," he said.

The partnership agreements signed by Corovin help further the company's thrust into the global market, a move that is also important to its future. The company continues to investigate other joint development opportunities, particularly in the Far East and the U.S., but as of yet, no final decisions have been made. Corovin currently exports 70% of its materials outside Germany.

The joint ventures formed last year at Corovin also continue going strong. Coratech, the recycling joint venture formed with Ravago, is growing, with 1992 sales of approximately 10 million DM. "In the future, you will have to pay a great deal of money for taking away waste," said Mr. Kociemba. "We are acting on this now, not waiting to react later. This is just the beginning," he said, adding that future plans include expanding to 10,000 tons annually, probably in 1994.

The Gizeh Spuntec spunbonded joint venture in Berlin has also done well; the company is now considering adding melt blown capabilities at the plant. A decision on this is expected very soon, according to Mr. Kociemba. Corovin owns 30% of Gizeh; sales from Gizeh and Coratech are not included in Corovin annual sales, which were $74 million in 1992.

At Corovin, many projects are ongoing, said Mr. Kociemba, particularly in elastic and lofty materials. At this time the company is content with current technologies and will remain focused on its traditional markets.

Of these markets, hygiene is the largest, making up more than 60% of Corovin's sales. Technical applications such as building products and agricultural materials are other key areas, accounting for more than five million DM in sales annually.

Corovin is beginning ISO certification plans--as well as instituting a quality management program--with a European management consulting group. The company expects to be certified next year.

For the future, Mr. Kociemba said, "We have two scenarios. One is to become a global player. The second is to strengthen our focus on composites. We are no longer working on any straight spunbonds for new products," he pointed out.
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Title Annotation:International Top 30
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Date:Sep 1, 1993
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