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Suominen reports a volatile wipes market

Increases in raw material, freight and energy costs have not been fully passed on.

3rd February 2022

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Helsinki, Finland


Nonwoven wipes substrates specialist Suominen, headquartered in Helsinki, Finland, achieved sales of €443.2 million for its 2021 financial year, down from €458.9 million in 2020.

“In the first half of the year our sales volumes and results continued on the record levels of 2020, but suddenly in the third quarter volumes dropped temporarily, due to overstocking in the supply chain, followed by a partial recovery in the fourth quarter,” said the company’s president and CEO Petri Helsky. “There were also increases in raw material, freight and energy costs which we were not fully able to push through to our sales prices.”

During 2021 the company completed three capacity investment projects, two in Italy and a third in the USA, as it continues to target an increase of its sustainable products portfolio to represent 50% of its total sales.

Sales of such sustainable products were 47% higher than in the baseline year 2019 – largely reflecting a move away from synthetics to cellulose by the wipes industry – and during the year Suominen launched 16 new sustainable products.

“In our operations we want to use resources efficiently and to operate with the smallest possible impact on the environment,” said Helsky. “We have concrete reduction targets for our greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption, water consumption and waste to landfill and we progressed steadily towards these targets in 2021. As part of our work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, for example, we made the decision to shift entirely to fossil-free electricity at all our European sites.

“Looking at the year ahead we see challenges, especially in the coming months. Certain major customers still struggle with their inventory levels. Combined with the recent surge of Covid-19 cases which impacts on all operations, the near-term demand picture seems very volatile. We also continue to have a lag between the rising raw material, energy and logistics costs and our sales prices. We expect the demand for our products to stabilize starting from the second quarter of the year and end consumer demand is expected to remain above pre-pandemic levels.”

Suominen’s operating profit for 2021 was €26.9 million, compared to €39.5 million in 2020.

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