“It was a year of growth and we achieved another record performance”
It was a year of growth both in terms of volume and value. We were able to defend margins – despite dramatic raw material price increases – and achieved another record performance, building on the momentum we have been gathering since 2009.
Although there was a lot of pressure from increased raw material prices – up to 30 percent in some of our paper chemicals activities – and a significant, negative currency exchange impact, we were able to manage our margins effectively and benefit from strong growth, notably in Asia and South America. Our bleaching business achieved growth in all sub-business units, driven in particular by a strong paper market in Asia, while we were also boosted by the continued growth of the packaging and board industry in Europe and the Americas. This kept our facilities running at a very high capacity throughout the year. It was a more diverse picture in the paper segment, although growth continued in Asia and we increased our market share in the South American paper chemicals market, driven by very strong growth in Brazil. Our specialty products also performed well. The silica business – which supplies the paper industry and other markets such as electronics, pharmaceuticals and the building sector – had a very strong 2011, while Expancel achieved another record year. So while we certainly faced challenging conditions and there was a slight slowdown towards the end of the year, the diversity of our portfolio and demand for certain products meant that we were a little less vulnerable to the economic volatility.
Early in the year we announced an investment of close to €90 million in a new facility being built in Brazil which will supply the world’s largest pulp mill. The plant is being constructed in the northern part of Três Lagoas and is centered on further expanding Eka Chemicals’ sustainability-focused Chemical Island concept (see case study ). The mill, operated by Eldorado Celulose e Papel, is expected to come on stream in September 2012. Meanwhile, in April we started-up a new production plant for colloidal silica at our Guangzhou site in China. The facility will help meet rapidly growing local demand for our Compozil retention and dewatering system. These projects will consolidate our global market leadership positions and help to accelerate growth in key strategic regions. Another important investment – reflecting the success of Expancel – involved committing €32 million to increase production capacity in Sweden.
We are continuously working to help customers increase their efficiency and we made very good progress on a high filler concept which looks extremely promising. Improving safety performance was another major priority and it was pleasing to see the business return to the very good trend we established a few years ago. Our zero incident mindset program is now in full swing and as the workshops and training continue and our employees around the world become more engaged, we’re hopeful that we can strive for an even better result next year. One other achievement of note was the finalization of a completely integrated global SAP system which includes all our sites in all countries.
Revenue in € millions
Geo-mix revenue by destination in %