Suominen has two business areas: Convenience and Care. Although the scope of their operations might be different today, they nevertheless share many megatrends, raw materials, technologies and employee capabilities. Moreover, the product features may often be similar – after all, nearly all our products eventually touch human skin.
Our vision is to change the way people think about nonwovens.
Our strategy defines how Suominen will achieve its vision and the targets set for this strategy period. We execute the strategy through three cornerstones:
Suominen’s purpose is to make life better. It is the reason for our existence and the foundation of everything we do at Suominen. It tells us what we actually work for. Therefore, it is also a fundamental part of our strategies – the previous, current and the next one as well.
Suominen’s Convenience business area offers nonwovens for a wide range of wiping products: baby care, personal care, home care and workplace wipes. In 2017, Convenience accounted for 91% of our net sales and its customers include some of the world’s best-known consumer brands.
Suominen is the global market leader in nonwovens for wipes, with a market share of approximately 20%. We want to be recognized as the world leader in wipes and be the preferred partner in superior nonwoven innovations.
The Convenience business area offers nonwovens for an extensive range of wiping applications. The main end use applications for our nonwovens for wipes are:
The customers of Convenience include global consumer brands, manufacturers of private label products, retail chains and regional nonwoven converters. Our customer relationships are typically very long, on average more than ten years.
The main market areas for Convenience are North America and Europe, and we also operate in the South American market.
The net sales of the Convenience business area totaled EUR 388.6 million in 2017 (EUR 380.5 million in 2016). Growth in net sales reflected the healthy development of sales volumes.
In 2017, we continued working on the growth investment in our plant in Bethune, SC, USA, where we started up a new state-of-the-art wetlaid production line. The first invoiced products were delivered to customers during the second quarter of the year. The ramp-up process continued throughout the year, at a somewhat slower pace than we had anticipated, due to certain technical challenges. When in full speed, the new production line will increase our capacity significantly, helping Suominen to meet the growing demand for nonwovens for home and workplace wiping, flushable wipes and personal care products.
The Convenience business area had three public product launches in 2017, the most notable being GENESIS® Pro All Purpose nonwoven, a full line of products with demonstrably superior strength and performance compared to any other substrate available on the market. In addition, we introduced AIRLACE™ for Workplace, a nonwoven for professional wiping that offers reliable performance and the best cost-in-use; and FIBRELLA® Ultrasoft, a nonwoven for baby wipes that delivers unmatched softness for consumers and easy convertibility for Suominen’s customers.
One of the highlights of 2017 was the launch of the revolutionary Designer Series pattern selection for wipes. The Designer Series contains unique high-resolution patterns designed exclusively for Suominen by professional designers and validated with consumers to convey softness and functionality in cleaning. In practice, the Designer Series offers customers a ready-made selection of patterns that have a distinctive look, tried-and-tested consumer preference and a quick time to market. Commercial production of these patterns would not be possible without the investments Suominen has made in production technology and consumer understanding in the recent years. The Designer Series is a prime example of Suominen’s ability to
create nonwovens others cannot – in line with our new Changemaker strategy.
In addition, we made many nonpublic product launches by introducing new nonwoven materials exclusively to our key customers. All the novelties launched are the result of our multiyear focus on both product development and product management, showing that our investments to reinforce the teams in question with new talents is starting to pay off.
Suominen’s new Changemaker strategy, launched in 2017, entailed new waysof operating. Among other reforms, the Convenience business area strengthened and reorganized its commercial organization, including Sales and Key Account Management, to ensure sufficient resources, a strong focus on growth segments and a global approach. Moreover, the business area began to adopt a dual business model in baby wiping. In the dual model, Suominen categorizes its baby wiping markets into two areas:
In developing markets, Suominen seeks stronger growth and investments, and aims to leverage its foothold in Brazil to become a pre-eminent supplier of high-performing nonwovens in all of Latin America. In mature markets, Suominen seeks greater efficiencies through lean operations, a simplified product portfolio and a focus on cost efficiency or niches when it comes to baby wiping innovations.
In 2018, the Convenience business area continues to focus on increasing the share of products with high added value in its portfolio, and consequently, concentrates its efforts on increasing sales of nonwovens for workplace, home and personal care (including flushable) wipes.
Suominen has been a forerunner in flushable nonwovens and continues to strengthen its position through extensive product development. In 2018, thanks to the investment made in Bethune, SC, USA, Suominen aims to launch new branded flushable products in the market, offering customers and consumers their desired balance between performance, comfort and flushability.
The outlook for the Convenience business area continues to be auspicious, as demand for nonwovens used in wiping products is projected to increase in all market areas and applications as described in the table on this page. The conditions for growth are favorable, as the growth of the middle class, appreciation of a healthy lifestyle, well-being and a high level of personal hygiene, as well as efforts to increase everyday comfort and convenience are among the global megatrends that are gaining momentum and boosting demand for consumer products made of nonwovens.
|Application||North America||Europe||South America|
|Personal care wiping (incl. flushables)||6%||6%||65%*|
* Emerging market. High growth rate is a result of small amounts supplied.
** At present, only commercially small amounts supplied.
Suominen’s Care business area offers nonwovens for specialty hygiene and medical applications, such as products for feminine hygiene, baby and adult incontinence products, as well as wound care, specialty operating room and patient hygiene applications. In 2017, Care accounted for 9% of Suominen’s net sales. Customers of the business area include global consumer brands, leading regional players, and manufacturers of medical components and devices.
Through its Care business area, Suominen makes people’s lives better by offering high-quality nonwoven components for hygiene applications and for medical products serving acute, institutional and home care settings. We want to be best in class in fluid management in our chosen markets and are positioned to be a leading supplier of specialty components seeking to grow our currently small market share.
The main end use applications for Suominen’s nonwovens for hygiene products are:
The main end use applications for medical products include:
In hygiene and medical applications, nonwovens most often serve as components of complex end products. For example, a feminine care product consists of several layers of different materials, with Suominen’s nonwovens being one of them, providing critical functionality to the total performance of the finished article.
Customers of the Care business area include global consumer brands, manufacturers of medical devices and regional nonwoven converters. The main geographies for Care are North America, South America and Europe.
The net sales of the Care business area totaled EUR 37.5 million in 2017 (EUR 36.3 million in 2016), representing 9% of Suominen’s net sales.
In 2017, the Care business area continued to expand its customer base and complemented its offering of high-performing specialty nonwovens with the introduction of a new branded product in the growing South American healthcare market: FIBRELLA® Wrap.
FIBRELLA® Wrap is a soft and safe material for undercast paddings and cushions used in wound care. Suominen’s recent investments in upgraded production technology in its Paulínia, Brazil, plant enabled the product launch. Today, cotton wadding is the most typical material used in undercasts and wound care in South America, but it has two major weaknesses: it has no strength and it can be difficult for clinicians to apply.
Suominen’s target for the Care business area is to achieve significant growth in the coming years. The business area aims to be recognized as a leader in fluid management in hygiene products and the number one supplier in selected niche areas in the medical sector.
As the Care business area is still relatively new in the hygiene and medical nonwovens market, there is room for expansion in its customer base and opportunities to leverage the company’s manufacturing platform on three continents. Moreover, the business area develops new products and customer relationships while exploring new technologies and geographies to achieve growth. In new products, superiority in fluid management, skin wellness and patterning are key aspects of Care’s strategy execution plan.
While Suominen’s major investment in a new wetlaid production line in its Bethune plant in SC, USA, is initially targeted to mainly serve the customers of Suominen’s Convenience business area, the new line will also help us meet the growing demand for nonwovens for medical and hygiene products.
Solid growth in product demand is forecasted to continue in both medical and hygiene markets. The main market regions for Care are the Americas and Europe.
In nonwovens for hygiene products, overall annual growth in the mature market regions, such as North America and Europe, is forecasted to remain close to 1%. However, the vast market of hygiene offers interesting opportunities also in developed markets, as demand for selected categories, such as adult incontinence, is growing at an attractive pace. In addition, the outlook in developing markets is very lucrative, as the forecasted growth in South America and Asia ranges from 4 to 6%. The prospects for hygiene applications are driven by demographic factors such as population growth and the increase in income in developing countries, and the aging of the population in developed countries.
In medical nonwovens, the annual growth rate in North America in the coming years is anticipated to be around 3%, while in Europe, demand may increase even a bit faster, at a rate of 4 to 9%. In the emerging markets, such as South America, market growth is projected to be 8%. The forecasted growth in medical nonwovens is supported by several megatrends, such as the aging population, increasing complexity of medical conditions and diseases, and ever-greater adoption of technology in healthcare. Moreover, the constant increase in the number of pandemics and hospital-acquired infections is further driving demand for disposable medical nonwovens.
Suominen's global manufacturing platform comprises eight production plants on three continents:
Please visit Contacts section for further information.
We Love Wipes is Suominen’s digital consumer dialogue program launched back in 2013. Nowadays, the We Love Wipes community consists of nearly 25,000 followers who are not afraid to share their thoughts on and experiences with nonwovens products.
We Love Wipes aims to increase consumer awareness of disposable nonwoven products by providing brand-free information on the wide range of products, their different end-use applications and various features – all in a fun and entertaining way. And since the dialogue is two-way, We Love Wipes provides Suominen with valuable information about consumer needs and, in turn, enables us to develop new nonwoven products with higher added value.
Focused, in-depth information collected through We Love Wipes is a valuable asset for us and, therefore, we will continue deepening our consumer understanding in order to find opportunities, support product development projects and, ultimately, bring more value to our customers.