“We achieved strong growth and gained market share in both Asia and Latin America.”
It was a good year, especially given the fact that 2009 was our best year ever. The business environment was very competitive and we lost some margin, but we gained substantial volume and as a result our bottom line improved. So although we faced different dynamics, our results held up well.
We achieved strong growth and gained market share in both Asia and Latin America. In North America – which is still the biggest individual market for pulp and paper – our position remained stable and even grew slightly. Our focus has been more on restructuring in Europe, but we rebounded from the demand drop in 2009 and took market share as the demand returned. Many customers also began to start up projects they originally launched in 2008, but were then forced to put on hold due to the recession. This was particularly notable during the second half of 2010, when many of these projects were restarted. All these developments have helped to ensure that we are emerging from the economic crisis in a much stronger position than when we came into it.
Many business activities made excellent progress during 2010. The packaging board industry is growing – which has obvious benefits for us as we can provide attractive chemistries in this area – and our Compozil Fx concept is now being used by seven of the eight largest fine paper machines in Asia. This concept helps our customers achieve extremely high speeds and reduces fiber and energy consumption and is firmly established as the start-up technology of choice for large paper manufacturing machines. In addition, our Eka NP 2180 silica sol – which helps improve efficiency and machine speed – has really started to take off, while we have also developed a unique line of surface sizing products which has helped us to gain many new customers. So we are now in a position where we can really start talking about growth. High growth regions such as China and Latin America obviously remain important, but we have also been achieving good success in mature markets such as Germany and Japan. Expancel in particular had a very good year, while the product is being widely used in Asia and Latin America, where growth has really speeded up. Our Purate product for water treatment achieved solid growth, especially in Europe.
We strengthened our internal sizing business by investing in a new chemicals plant in Germany. This has enabled us to introduce a new process which provides higher quality products. The paper coatings business we took over from the former ICI also grew substantially in North America and Europe. Our focus in terms of sustainability, innovation and business growth remains very much on fiber, energy and water. We’re working hard to help customers cut down on the amount of fiber they use, while energy consumption is also something we are reducing at our own sites and those of our customers. In addition, we are continuing to put a lot of effort and resources into water management, which has particular significance for us in the southern hemisphere, where it is very important for our customers. Safety continues to be the number one priority, and in addition to having BBS implemented at all our facilities, we introduced a zero incident mindset program which has been going well. Our diversity agenda also progressed. In Europe, for example (where 25 percent of our workforce is female), 35 percent of our managers are now women.
Revenue in € millions
Geo-mix revenue by destination in %