Interview with Bruce Olson

Bruce Olson
Bruce Olson
President & CEO
Freudenberg Performance Materials
Freudenberg Performance Materials

Nonwovens outstrip GDP
Apart from the traditionally fast-growing hygiene industry, interlining and shoe markets for nonwovens, technical applications of nonwovens are also increasing at a rapid pace. Bruce Olson, President & CEO of Freudenberg Performance Materials, discusses the nonwovens industry in an exclusive interview with Fibre2Fashion.com

What is the size of the global nonwovens industry?

According to estimates from leading industry associations, the global market for nonwovens is expected to range between US$ 30 and 36 billion in 2015.

From which countries is demand the most for nonwovens?

In general, the demand for nonwovens is the strongest in Asia, especially in China. There are very strong growth rates in India and neighbouring countries as well as in Southeast Asia. Freudenberg has several production sites in these regions and offers solutions for various market segments like apparel, technical nonwovens and specialties.

What percentage growth do you expect in the next couple of years?

In general, we expect growth rates above GDP. The rates will differ in the various countries depending on their individual development.

Which fields are expected to grow the fastest?

Looking at the markets, we see the traditionally strong hygiene market growing very fast. In addition, the interlining and shoe markets, also traditionally strong markets, are growing in line with GDP. We see very fast growth particularly for technical applications. The most significant among these segments are automobile with applications for the interior of vehicles and technical specialties like nonwoven separators for the battery industry and applications for the cable industry.

What are the latest breakthrough innovations in nonwovens? Any from your stables?

As the leading global provider of innovative and customised solutions for industrial technical textile applications, we have created various innovations lately. Whether in surgery, wound healing, drug delivery or in the area of regenerative medicine, the Freudenberg Group has developed and industrialised a unique platform technology for the production of bioresorbable nonwoven, Scaffolene. This technology addresses different medical challenges by combining a broad spectrum of bioresorbable polymers, 3D fibre structures and the possibility of incorporating active ingredients. Others are: 1. Li-ion battery separators, especially for electric vehicles 2. Acoustic composites for application in cars using our unique microfilament SoundTex- M (Evolon) technology in order to substantially reduce weight (CO2) and at the same time improve acoustic absorption 3. Synchronised high quality printed nonwovens for automotive headliners

What is the percentage profit allocated for R&D?

R&D spending differs throughout the industry. Last year, the Freudenberg Group allocated 3.8 per cent of its sales for R&D. This clearly exceeds the global average spending on R&D, which is 3.2 per cent.

What are the latest trends in the interlinings industry?

The trends in the interlinings industry are strong growth in India and neighbouring countries as well as in Southeast Asia. Although China remains the largest market for nonwovens, growth rates are slowing down to some extent. Furthermore, the traditionally cost-driven business environment in Asia is becoming more quality-oriented. I would like to mention India as a pioneer. For example, 50 per cent of the interlinings produced in India are being used for garments that are then exported. But today, almost 50 per cent end up being worn by domestic consumers. The Indian garment industry has successfully built its own domestic market, with high quality brands favoured by the growing middle class. Freudenberg Performance Materials is a very well positioned partner for this domestic industry, as we have been present for many years and are strongly committed to the Indian market. A third trend is the growing importance of compliance. There is no doubt that chemicals, products, working conditions and other fields need to totally comply with law and international standards.

What percentage of your revenue comes from the textiles niche?

The textile market is important for Freudenberg Performance Materials. Sales of apparel and shoe components have a share of more than 30 per cent of our entire sales.
Published on: 03/08/2015

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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