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After a costly restructuring programme that has positioned the business as a focused fibre-based materials supplier, Ahlstrom is looking for higher level of profitability in 2005.
Ahlstrom has restructured into five distinct business areas – Filtration, Glass Nonwovens and Nonwovens, (the Fibre Composites segment), and Label and Packaging Papers and Technical Papers, (the Specialty Papers segment).
In a challenging business environment with weak demand in Europe, operating profit for 2004 was €51 million compared to €48.5 million in 2003. Net sales were €1,567.8 million compared to €1,556.4 million.
“”In order to improve the group’s profitability, a number of measures have been taken to lower our cost structure,”” added Mr Moisi. “”These will reduce our fixed costs by approximately €30 million annually.””
Separately, Ahlstrom has announced a planned expansion of its capacity to produce solvent-treated filtration materials sold primarily to the automotive filtration market.
The expansion is to be accomplished over the next three years through a series of small investments across the global Ahlstrom network.
The timed phase-in of this systematic capacity increase will be matched to customer demand for these products and will be accomplished without major investments that would normally require significant cost recovery in the market.
Ahlstrom has achieved this expansion initially at its Turin, Italy location through a modest investment on its saturation lines. The investment allows for an immediate 15% capacity increase. Combined with ‘a plus’, Ahlstrom’s performance excellence program, the optimized solvent saturation capacity could increase in total by up to 30%. The company intends to make similar modification investments at its other locations producing solvent saturated products over a three-year horizon.
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