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.