Gurit Composites Introduce Uniform Operating Structure

27 January 2006

As part of the projected division of the Gurit-Heberlein Group into two independent companies, Gurit's composite operations have been integrated under a new, uniform operational and management structure.

In the Advanced Composites sector, Gurit will be known worldwide simply by the name ""Gurit"". The traditional company names SP, IMS, Stesalit and Gurit Suprem will – where they support specific marketing activities – continue to be used in certain segments as brands, yet the individual companies will no longer appear externally. The Group is no longer organized according to the set up of production sites but will now be focusing on three principal, high-potential markets and serve these markets with a complete range of semi-finished products.

Wind Energy

Gurit Composites will be working to further strengthen its position at the cutting edge of the industry as a leading supplier to the wind power industry worldwide. With its wide product range (glass fibre and carbon fibre prepegs, structural foams, gel coats and resins), Gurit supplies virtually all the major producers in a dynamic market that is expanding rapidly all over the world. Apart from a high-output manufacturing base in Europe and its traditionally close links with Gamesa and Vestas, two European manufacturers of wind power systems, the production facility in North America is also becoming increasingly important. The company recently finalized agreements to supply GE Wind with significant volumes of the structural foam products used to reinforce hollow spaces in the blades of wind generators. These structural foams were initially used in shipbuilding but, as predicted and planned, are rapidly becoming an increasingly important source of income in the wind energy market. The extremely tense situation that existed on the carbon fibre supply market last year has eased slightly, but Gurit is doing everything in its power to increase the reliability of supplies.

Aerospace, Automotive and Mass Transportation

Advanced composites are also assuming an increasingly important role in the highly diverse transport sector. As in the past, the pioneering industries here remain aeronautics and astronautics, as well as high-end sports cars. Sales to the aeronautics industry are very encouraging. Apart from high levels of production of existing successful aircrafts, the initially delayed production of the new Airbus 380 is now running and leads to a sharp rise in the demand for advanced composites. For the A380, Airbus has certified a total of 17 new products made by Gurit. In future, the company plans to draw on the wealth of experience gathered in all production facilities to open up markets in mass automobile production and the public transport sector.

Marine and Sport

With a number of major sailing events in the offing, the company's shipbuilding business is developing well. Here, Gurit has traditionally been one of the leading developers and suppliers of innovative high-end materials. These often carbon fibre based materials are also finding increasing use in the production of high-class serial production yachts. Despite lower volumes in its winter sports business, Gurit managed to maintain its position in a stagnating – and in some areas declining – market.

Reorganization and restructuring

As part of the decision to focus clearly on the three markets outlined above, Gurit will be reorganizing its purchasing, research and development, and production worldwide. In the next few weeks, certain production facilities will be amalgamated, newly structured and, in some cases, relocated so as to be closer to rapidly growing markets, regions and customers. In North America, particularly, enormous increases in local production and overall sales have been recorded in recent months, and for this reason the company will be further extending its strategically important presence there. The production site in Innsbruck/Austria, which specializes almost exclusively in material used for winter sports applications, will be closed. The foil production will be moved to factories in Switzerland and Germany, the prepreg capacities to North America.

In Innsbruck, around 50 people will be affected by the decision; a redundancy scheme is currently being worked out with the works committee. Strategic options for the foil business which is not focused on the above mentioned markets are currently being evaluated.

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