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The top companies in the worldwide nonwovens industry: the fifth annual look at the largest nonwovens producers in the world ranks and profiles the 30 largest worldwide producers from North America, Europe and Japan; these top companies account for 85% of total nonwovens production in every corner of the globe.

The TOP COMPANIES In The Worldwide Nonwovens Industry

In this age of globalization, internationalization, acquisitions and mergers, the annual compilation of the Top Companies in the Worldwide Nonwovens Industry remains the most accurate barometer of just how far the industry has come in 1990.

The past year, particularly the last nine months, has seen a spate of acquisitions that have changed the face of the worldwide nonwovens industry forever as it heads into the 1990's. While not all of the recent purchases and mergers are reflected in the most current listing of The Top Companies, it is obvious that some names - such as James River Nonwovens, Sodoca, Fiberweb and WaynTex - are missing from the 1990 compilation. In fact, they are not missing... they are merely included as part of a larger corporate parent. In the case of James River, Sodoca and Fiberweb, they are all under the Fiberweb Group corporate umbrella now. Wayn-Tex is part of the Dominion Textile Group. Dexter Nonwoven's purchase of the $40 million nonwovens business at Storalene, although mentioned as part of the Dexter profile, is not included in the Dexter sales figures.

The other noticeable portion of this year's feature is that all of the companies are ranked and profiled based on worldwide sales of all of their companies and subsidiaries. Because of this, Freudenberg Spunweb and Freudenberg Nonwovens in the U.S. are now included in the profile of the Freudenberg Group, the largest nonwovens producer in the world. Hoechst Celanese in the U.S. is placed as a part of its German Hoechst AG parent. All of Lydall's three nonwovens units are included in the one corporate Lydall round-up. And some smaller companies that would not have made the Top Companies list by themselves - such as Lantor Fiber-Taxis in the U.S. and Nordlys in France - are profiled as part of their parent's listing.

The cooperation of the companies themselves has made this annual survey possible. Five years ago, when we initiated this award-winning series, there was a paucity of sales figures available on every company from top to bottom. Today, because of the ability of this feature to define the industry in which we all live, all of the producers, particularly the Europeans, have been more than forthcoming with their sales data.

The Worldwide Scene

Worldwide sales of nonwoven roll goods were slightly more than $5 billion, according to most estimates. Based on this figure, the Top 30 Companies in the Worldwide Nonwovens Industry, which together had reported 1989 sales of $4.431 billion, account for about 85% of worldwide production of nonwovens, leaving the remaining 15% for the smaller, more niche-oriented competitors to divide among themselves.

The North American portion of this continues to account for slightly more than half of the total, with projections calling for it to continue its 5-6% growth to about a $3.5 billion industry in 1995.

In the U.S., disposables, despite constant environmental pressures, still account for close to 60% of North American value of shipments and more than 80% of total yardage volume. Sales of converted products from these nonwovens, namely baby diapers, feminine hygiene items, medical products and wipes, passed the magic $10 billion mark last year.

In Europe, total production of nonwovens approached 360,000 tons, up slightly from 350,000 tons in 1988. Unlike their North American counterparts, durable nonwovens, ranging from interlinings to household nonwovens to filtration and civil engineering, accounted for more than half of this total.

In Japan, nonwovens production in 1989 totalled 146,100 tons, showing a high growth rate of 9.7% from the previous year. Spunbondeds achieved the largest growth of 24%. Spunlaced and melt blown also showed high growth rates, but their production still remains at a low level. Thermal bonded nonwovens, which had increased at high growth rates, lost some share in baby diapers to polypropylene spunbondeds, resulting in a lower growth rate of 10%.

More nonwovens are imported than exported in Japan. In 1989, the domestic consumption of nonwovens exceeded 150,000 tons. The production of nonwovens has so far been exceeded by domestic demand, which showed an increase of 9.9% in 1989. The share of imports in the domestic demand has reached 10%. The demand is also steadily increasing in 1990 and the production should reach about 160,000 tons.

The Impact of the Top Companies

While the first, fifth and sixth largest nonwovens producers in the world are based in Europe, seven of the top 10 worldwide producers remain American companies, led by DuPont, Kimberly-Clark, Veratec and Dexter Nonwovens, all of whom have more than $200 million in annual worldwide nonwovens roll goods sales.

The North American Top Companies totalled $2.34 billion in worldwide sales, with perhaps 80% of that in North America alone. That means that 53% of the nonwovens business in the world is controlled by American companies. Of the top 30 companies, 14 are North American-owned, including Dominion Textile in Canada and Milyon in Mexico.

The Europeans, in addition to holding three spots in the top 10, account for 12 of the top 30 companies. The total $1.75 billion in sales is 40% of total worldwide turnover by the Top Companies. From these figures it is apparent that there is a large number of significant European competitors in the nonwovens game, but for the most part they remain medium-sized producers in the $35-$110 million range.

There are four Japanese companies that cracked the Top Companies listing this year - Asahi Chemical, Japan Vilene, Unichika and Kuraray. Their total contribution reached $336 million, leaving them still a relatively minor force in the worldwide nonwovens industry with less than 8% of the Top Companies total share. Japan Vilene, a joint venture whose owners include Freudenberg of West Germany, is profiled separately because it is not wholly-owned by Freudenberg.

Illustrating the fact that in the nonwovens industry today "big is better," the top 10 worldwide producers totaled $3.058 billion in roll goods sales, a full 70% of sales of the Top 30 Companies. It means that 10 companies control about two-thirds of worldwide nonwovens production. The power in the nonwovens business today is certainly at the top.

To take it a bit further, the 20 largest companies have sales of $3.97 billion, almost 90% of the Top Companies total and 80% of worldwide production. That leaves the bottom 10 of our list to account for the remaining 10% of Top Companies total and only 5% of total worldwide production.

Sales figures for all of the companies reporting in foreign currency are based on 1989 average exchange rates in U.S. dollars. Local currency figures are also included in most cases. All figures are 1989 sales of nonwoven roll goods.

The Top Companies are profiled based solely on their worldwide nonwovens roll goods sales. Although some companies may include some minor converting or raw material production in their reported figures, this remains only a minor percent of the total and does not change the rankings at all.

All of the figures are either provided by the companies themselves or are estimates by the Nonwovens Industry staff. With few exceptions, even these estimates have been confirmed by the companies.

These Top Companies, because they do 85% of the worldwide production of nonwoven fabrics, continue to set the pace in the global nonwovens marketplace. After all, they buy 85% of all raw materials sold, employ that same percentage of employees and do perhaps 95% of the research and development work. Most of that pace is set by the Top 10 producers, which account for about 65% of worldwide nonwovens production.

These Top Companies, from Freudenberg to Lohmann, are feeling the brunt of the environmental debate surrounding the entire business, but they are also the leaders in developing the solutions to these problems. They are also the companies that will take the worldwide nonwovens industry into the 21st century.

Table : The 1990 Top Worldwide Nonwovens Producers

(Ranked According to 19989 Worldwide Roll Goods Sales)
1. Freudenburg (W. Germany) $750
2. DuPont (U.S.) $560
3. Kimberly-Clark(U.S.) $330
4. Veratec(U.S.) $300
5. Hoechst (W. Germany) $240
6. Fiberweb Group (Switzerland) $210
7. Dexter Nonwovens (U.S.) $200
8. Reemay (U.S.) $170
9. Chicopee(U.S.) $168
10. Scot Nonwovens(U.S.) $130
11. Japan Vilene (Japan) $116
12. Lantor Group (Holland) $112
13. Phillips Fibers (U.S.) $110
14. Akzo (Holland) $110
15. Asahi Chemical (Japan) $101
16. Foss Manufacturing (U.S.) $90
17. Lydall (U.S.) $90
18. Amoco Fibers (U.S.) $65
19. Unichika (Japan) $61
20. Textilguppe Hof (W. Germany) $60
21. Kuraray (Japan) $58
22. Sandler (W. Germany) $56
23. J.W. Suominen (Finland) $55
24. Stearns (U.S.) $50
25. Dominion Textile (Canada) $50
26. Molnlycke (Sweden) $48
27. Corovin (W. Germany) $46
28. BFF (U.K.) $35
29. Milyon (Mexico) $31
30. Lohmann (W. Germany) $29


(Ranked According to 1989 Worldwide Roll Goods Sales)
1. DuPont $560
2. Kimberly-Clark $330
3. Veratec $300
4. Dexter Nonwovens $200
5. Reemay $170
6. Chicopee $168
7. Scott Nonwovens $130
8. Phillips Fibers $110
9. Foss Manufacturing $90
10. Lydal $90


(Ranked Accordiing to 1989 Worldwide Roll Goods Sales)
1. Freudenberg $750
2. Hoechst $240
3. Fiberweb Group $210
4. Lantor Group $112
5. Akzo $110
6. Textilegruppe Hof $60
7. Sandler $56
8. J.W. Suominen $55
9. Molnlycke $48
10. Corovin $46


(Ranked According to 1989 Worldwide Roll Goods Sales)
1. Japan Vilene $116
2. Asahi Chemical $101
3. Unichika $61
4. Kuraray $58
COPYRIGHT 1990 Rodman Publications, Inc.
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Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:includes 30 company profiles
Author:Jacobsen, Michael
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Article Type:Cover Story
Date:Sep 1, 1990
Previous Article:In nonwovens ... the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Next Article:IDEA '90.

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