Headquartered in Austria, Lenzing Group is an international group of companies that provides the global textile and nonwovens industry with high-quality cellulose fibers. Seventy years of fiber production expertise makes the Group, worldwide, the only producer of all three man-made cellulose fiber generations, from classic viscose to lyocell and modal. With business units: Pulp (incl. chemical sales); Fibers for textile applications; Fibers for the nonwovens industry; Engineering and systems construction; Performance Polymers; Filaments and Fibers (acrylic fibers & precursor for carbon fibers), the Group embarks sales of EUR 1.33 bill (2008) and is backed by staff around 6000 employees. Mr Friedrich Weninger is Board Member at Lenzing Group. He is responsible for Business Units viz Textile Fibers, Nonwoven Fibers, Performance Products, Filaments, and Pulp. Mr Weninger acquired degree of Engineer in 1984. He pursued further education at the University of Innsbruck in 1984 in Sales Management. In 1985 he began work at Gleibau, Salzburg- a medium size building construction company. He then obtained his MBA with a consulting project in the automobile industry. He did his studies at International Management Institute IMD Lausanne, Geneva. Mr Weninger joined Lenzing in 1989 where he served as Assistant to the management Board with responsibilities for "high Performance Products P84". He continued to grow with Lenzing taking responsibility in strategic planning and administrative management of Lenzing holdings. He held this position until 1993. He has continued to progress at Lenzing and started as head of Textile Fibers sales in 1993 and did this until 1994. In 2002, he was promoted to Head of Textile Fibers Sales and Logistics and later expanded his position to include Head of Textile Fibers Sales, Marketing and Logistics, and more recently, as Board Member representing entire fibre business at Lenzing Group. Face2Face welcomes Mr Friedrich Weninger in the industry talk to share his outlook on present performance of manmade fibres worldwide.
Mr Weninger, a warm welcome on Face2Face channel! Thanks for joining us in this industry talk once again. Shall we precede the talk with some updates on your business faring, and performance of manmade fibres industry world over?
Like all other branches of industry we were confronted with a severe downturn following the worldwide recession last year. Usually the man-made fiber industry is an early bird in terms of reacting to worldwide economic developments and so it was in 2008. We saw a sharp decline in fiber demand starting at the beginning of the second half 2008 which was accelerating in the fourth quarter 2008. As the general fiber demand slumped, viscose fiber prices fell by almost 30% to 40%, prices for standard fibers in Asia decreased even more. Within one year the viscose fiber industry hand turned from undersupply into an overcapacity situation, leading to standstills and production cuts at many factories, especially in Asia. Since a couple of weeks we have seen signs of bottoming out, as stocks in the textile chain were decreasing and confidence in the market reappeared. Speaking for the viscose fiber industry in general, demand has picked up but prices are still depressed.
Asia and Europe have been major markets for your business. Presently, how do you see the market potential and trends/movements in these regions? What all would be the burgeoning countries for your industry in near future?
Asia’s importance as a market is still predominant, due to the fact that population numbers are still growing considerably, as is prosperity in general. As a consequence per capita consumption is still on the increase, which is a major growth factor for our industry. This, by the way, is also true for other emerging markets such as Brazil or India. This is not to say that Europe, Turkey or the United States, or even the Caribbean based countries have nothing to contribute. There are certainly very attractive individual niche players all over the place – innovation and technical competence are still very important factors for a market.
Amongst wide application-sectors of Nonwovens industry, which sector do you look upon as most lucrative sector and why?
The nonwovens industry covers a wide variety of applications ranging from commodity products to specialty fabrics. The commodity sectors such as wet wipes have provided an excellent basis of growth for Lenzing in the western world. With the increase of personal income, the importance of nonwovens has also been growing in the emerging countries. Asia is still the key market, with the BRIC countries already starting to develop, promising an excellent basis for the future.
Lenzing Viscose® and TENCEL® are used in the technical as well as in hygiene segments for specialty fabrics. A typical hygiene application is the use of Lenzing Viscose® in tampons where high quality fibers provide comfort and protection in an extremely sensitive application. In the technical area Lenzing fibers are used in automotive applications, in filters and in specialty papers.
This mix of commodity and tailor-made specialty products makes the nonwovens business an extremely important sector for Lenzing, with continuing high growth rates and potential for innovative new products and applications.
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.