Friday 30 November 2012

Friedrich Weninger, CEO Lenzing, Keynote address to Dornbirn 2012

This summary of the keynote speech from this year's Dornbirn Man-Made Fibres Conference is the first of a series of summaries of the papers of most interest to a nonwoven audience.  They will be posted here regularly over the next few weeks and will accumulate, along with earlier posts from Dornbirn, in the Dornbirn 2012 folder.

Friedrich Weninger CEO Lenzing and President of AMFI observed that the USA had a huge advantage economically because the dollar remained the Worlds reserve currency.  The Euro became sufficiently strong to share this role with the dollar but had recently lost its appeal.  If it collapsed, it would not be the Chinese yuan that benefited; it would be the dollar at least for the next 10 years.  However the collapse of the Euro would cost the EU more than saving it, and the current crisis provided the best opportunity to make fundamental reforms to make it stronger.  In fact without the crisis, reform could not happen so we must make the most of the opportunity.

Partnership was becoming more important than Ownership.  Take-overs of complementary businesses were not necessary if stable strategic partnerships could be created.  From within the fibre industry the following examples were noteworthy:
·         In raw materials, Lenzing partnered with SAPPI for pulp supplies.  Lenzing gave SAPPI the guaranteed offtake of high volumes which allowed SAPPI secure long-term investment.  Lenzing bought most of their needs from SAPPI and in return got attractive pricing.
·         In product development, Lenzing had partnered with Ten Cate for many years in FR textiles.  Now they had made the breakthough with the US army thanks to Obama giving Lenzing a waiver to allow Lenzing FR to be imported for military use.
·         Woolmark and Cotton Inc. were both examples of industries cooperating as a defence against synthetic fibres successes in textiles.
·         In nonwovens a similar co-op was needed to communicate the environmental and sustainability advantages of cellulosics over synthetics along the value chain.

Some interesting statistics emerged:
·         China’s GDP is growing more every 11.5 weeks than the total Greek GDP.
·         A Chinese spinner (Wi Chow?) operates 7 million spindles and uses a million tonnes of fibre a year.  This inflexible plant needs to operate at 90% utilization to avoid collapse.
·         70 million packs of Costco’s 70% Tencel wipe were sold last year making it the biggest baby wipe in the USA.  (Asked later what percentage of the US wipe market this represented, Mr Weninger said of the 70,000 tonnes of rayon used in US baby wipes, 18,000 were Tencel.)

In concluding Mr Weninger said Dornbirn was now a global knowledge platform for the fibre industries and he hoped many new co-operations would arise as a result of this meeting.

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