In 2001, the Group implemented two major moves to rationalise its structure. In August, with the merger of Soffass and Fine Paper, Soffass S.p.a. was born. In December, Sofidel moved from being a service company and became a holding of companies, thus allowing economies of scale and synergies between the companies, which enabled it to face up to the new challenges of an ever increasing and competitive market.
Expansion in Europe: From Greenfield investments to acquisitions
This was the period of major Greenfield investments. It began with Delitissue, in Poland, followed simultaneously by the construction of a series of integrated plants at Intertissue in Great Britain, Ibertissue in Spain and Delipapier in Germany between 2003 and 2006. Meanwhile, in 2004, the Group continued expansion into Turkey, with the acquisition of Sofidel Kagit and the creation of Delisoft in Germany, with a further acquisition in 2007 of the historic Werra group in the Thuringia region of Germany. Therefore, Sofidel had covered the entire range of products on the German market and earned a privileged position in Central Europe, with significant economies of scale and huge logistical advantages. In 2006, a new conversion plant was acquired in Buxeuil, France, whilst in 2009, the Group entered the Greek market with the acquisition of Papyros.
New growth in Italy and the multi-brand strategy
In parallel with geographical expansion, production in Italy was also on the rise, with the acquisition of the Monfalcone paper mill and Imbalpaper, the first integrated plant in Italy, which also brought along several clients from the Away-from-Home sector.
In 2007, all the Group’s new production plants operated at full capacity for 12 months. Production rose from 458,000 to 583,000 tons/year. The Group was also initiating a multi-brand strategy through the acquisition of new brands such as Softis, paper tissue leader in Germany, Sopalin kitchen towels and Le Trèfle toilet tissues, boasting over 100 years of history in the French market.
During the years of growth in production, sales and marketing, Sofidel reinforced its strategic and cultural commitment to seeing sustainability as a lever for growth and competitive development. In 2008, it published its first Sustainability Report and in the same year, consolidated its membership of WWF’s international Climate Savers programme by becoming the first Italian company and the first company worldwide in the tissue sector, to voluntarily adopt innovative solutions capable of reducing direct and indirect CO2 emissions significantly. Meanwhile, it increased investments in technologies and management methodologies to curb its use of water resources and introduced policies to increase its reliance on raw materials from responsible sources.
Confirmation of a global commitment to sustainability
CIn the new decade, Sofidel confirmed its intrinsic commitment to the new international sustainability credo and its willingness to work in partnerships. In December 2010, it joined the UN’s Global Compact, a strategic platform for businesses aimed at implementing and promoting the basic principles of human rights, employment, the environment and combatting corruption. In 2011, it published its first Integrated Report – a more precise and exhaustive reporting tool providing data on its commitment to sustainability alongside information on economic and financial management and the consolidated statement of the Group. In April 2014, it unveiled its Less is More principle. The latter marked a fundamental change in approach. It sought to look for solutions to give “more” in terms of value, products and services with “less”, in terms of consumption and waste. The aim was to design better products with an increasingly reduced environmental impact; products made using fewer natural resources due to better efficiency and innovative features.
Second in Europe and continuously expanding. Time for organic growth
Between 2010 and 2013, the Group founded Sofidel Papir in Croatia, acquired Comceh in Romania, and the LPC Group, with plants in Great Britain, Sweden, Belgium and France.
The operation also included the acquisition of other major brands in the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Belgium, Holland and Luxemburg. In 2011, it also unveiled its new “Papernet” brand for the Away-from-Home market. This was followed by the Nalys and Cosynel brands in Belgium and Lycke in the Scandinavian countries. In 2015, it commissioned its new Swedish Tissue converting plant in Sweden, with a futuristic automated warehouse. Meanwhile, Sofidel’s new conversion plant in Ingrandes, France, was nearing completion. This marked a new phase of strategic growth for Europe; organic growth by increasing production at existing sites.
A new continent: arrival and growth in USA
In 2012, Sofidel broadened its horizons with a foray into the USA. It started by acquiring Cellynne which was active in the Away-from-Home sector with three plants: an integrated plant in Florida (Haines City) and two conversion plants in Wisconsin (Green Bay) and Nevada (Henderson) respectively. In 2014, it commissioned a new conversion plant in Oklahoma (Tulsa) and boosted production at the existing plant in Nevada. In 2015 there is the acquisition of Green Bay Converting Inc., a conversion plant in Wisconsin (also in Green Bay) and a factory in Mississippi (Hattiesburg). This was soon followed by a new Greenfield investment in Ohio (Circleville) to create its first integrated plant on US soil and the opening of its new Headquarters in Philadelphia (Pennsylvania). In just three years, Sofidel is now operational in 7 states and has a production capacity of 200 thousand tons.
Relentless environmental commitment
Five years after joining WWF’s International Climate Savers programme, in 2013, the Group met its set target to reduce CO2 emissions by 11%. Encouraged by these results and in line with its philosophy of Less is More, Sofidel has set even more ambitious targets for 2020. In addition to reducing direct and indirect emissions, it is also committed to increasing its use of renewable energies and to playing an active role in promoting the Low Carbon Economy in its sector and amongst its stakeholders.
2016. THE EVENTS
The 50th Anniversary has been a precious opportunity to affirm and fully promote the Sofidel identity. In this context it was decided to raise awareness to all stakeholders, both in Italy and outside Italy, about the history and the values of a company able to develop and grow continuously for five decades. A goal pursued by starting the celebrations at national level, with a press conference in Milan; supporting an event of the “Festival of Growth” in Lucca; celebrating employees with a party in all plants worldwide at the same time; supporting the production of a documentary “Paper, a never ending story” of the National Geographic presented in London and broadcasted in most European countries; activating a corporate campaign in major European newspapers; last but not least realizing a book about Sofidel history, the history of the paper industry of Lucca district and the culture of the tissue paper written by the University of Pisa. All these activities were strenghten even by public international recognition including the visit to the headquarters Sofidel of the Prime Ministers of the Italian Republic, Matteo Renzi, and a mention by the President of the United States, Barack Obama, during an event dedicated to foreign investment in the United States.
a new strategic growth phase
Together with this events, strictly linked to the roots of values and the increase of recognizability and reputation of Sofidel brand, 2016 was also the year of another significant projection towards the future. The start of a new strategic growth phase, which provides diversified paths of development for Europe and the United States. In the old continent, where now the dissemination of production facilities close to markets can be said to be substantially completed, the development of Sofidel will pass by organic growth: from the increase of the production capacity (in some cases doubled or even tripled) of existing plants to a possible, rare opportunistic acquisitions. In the US, however, where there is the dual need to increase production capacity and geographical coverage, and where wide margins for growth are expected, development will occur through replication of the strategy already successfully applied in Europe, namely through a mix of greenfield and acquisitions investments.