After a strategic review of its production operations in Western Europe, Kimberly-Clark Corporation (KCC) is now in negotiations to sell its tissue mill in Niederbipp, Switzerland. The Hakle-brand toilet paper products made in Niederbipp will then be produced at KCC’s Romagnano mill in northern Italy.
KCC says it will do everything possible to ensure a successful conclusion to current talks. If the planned sale does not go through, the company says it will propose closing the factory. The Niederbipp site currently has 256 employees.
According to the company, the changes are part of an extensive program to optimise the Western European production operations, which also includes a $38m investment in equipment, technology and machines at the Rouen mill in France and the Romagnano mill in Italy. These mills will reportedly continue to develop into centres of excellence and key sites for innovation and specialisation in paper towels.
The sale of the Niederbipp facility does not appear to be related to a weak business performance. As demand for toilet paper surged during the early days of the coronavirus crisis, the Niederbipp mill was at times producing twice as many rolls as usual, Kimberly-Clark’s Country Manager for Switzerland and Austria Hugo ter Braak told the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung in April.
In the third quarter of 2020, the US group increased its net sales by 1 per cent year-on-year to reach $4.7bn. As a result, Kimberly-Clark raised its annual growth forecast to 5 per cent from 4-5 per cent previously.
KCC has 40,000 employees worldwide and reported sales of $18.5bn last year. The group’s product range includes toilet paper as well as wet wipes, diapers, feminine hygiene pads and paper hand towels, sold under well-known brands such as Huggies diapers, Cottonelle toilet paper and flushable wipes and Kleenex facial tissues.