Adfil under under new ownership 04 Jul 2019

TunnelTalk reporting

Previous owner, Low & Bonar of Belgium, has concluded a deal to sell its Adfil division to an independent investory. As of 1 July, the Adfil brand of synthetic fibres and the concrete laboratory of the international concern, will run its own business independently of Low & Bonar. Low & Bonar has long wanted to sell its Adfil business to invest in divisions that would yield greater returns.

Synthetic fibres produced by Adfil
Synthetic fibres produced by Adfil

Adfil, which stands for Anglo Danish Fibres Industry Limited, originally an English-Danish company with headquarters in Hull that produced patented microfibers, was acquired by Low & Bonar in 2005 and subsequently integrated into its operations at Zele Belgium. Since 2014, Low & Bonar had invested significant sums in new macro fibre production capacities and in a new concrete laboratory in Zele, East Flanders.

Under the new deal with the private investor owner, Adfil will continue operations under the same name, at the same location, and under existing CEO Tom Winters and COO Ives Swennen. Both will also become Directors of the new entity. As well as the operations in Zele, there is a sales office in the UK, employing six technical sales staff.

“As an independent company, we will be able to make more conscious choices about business strategies, investments and opportunities,” said Winters and Swennen. “We are embarking on a daring new road map for the business and want to significantly increase profitability within the first year.”

Adfil has a turnover of €15 million, with volumes increasing month by month, and supplies its fibres directly to concrete plants or via preferred partners. As well as working and being headquartered in Belgium, some 90% of the Adfil customers are located outside of Belgium.

Micro and macro synthetic fibres are being used increasingly to reinforce concrete, as a sustainable alternative and/or as a supplement with steel reinforcement or steel fibre reinforcement. It has been demonstrated on different projects that adding synthetic fibre in the correct proportions can make steel mesh or steel fibres superfluous in some applications. The market is gradually turning to the technical potential of these polymer fibres. “Increasing numbers of concrete producers, engineering firms and contractors prefer synthetic fibres to conventional steel reinforcement,” said Winters. “Those are also the three groups we are continuing to target to convince.”

In the middle of last year (2018), Adfil obtained the so-called ATG certification in Belgium. Through two years of testing, the homogeneity and ease of working with fibre reinforced concrete have been demonstrated. “Belgian companies are now no longer forced exclusively to use steel for reinforcement,” said Winters. “In Belgium, about 12 million m3 of concrete is poured each year, 95% of which is reinforced using steel mesh, so there is still a lot of potential for a better way to carry out reinforcement.”

Beam test rig at the Adfil laboratory
Beam test rig at the Adfil laboratory

With many markets in Europe and internationally still unexplored, synthetic fibre reinforcement has a large margin for growth. “The dosage of synthetic fibre is also reducing and is now down from 12kg to the current 3kg/m3 for some applications,” said Swennen. “We try to innovate in every facet of the fibre, in colour, in bonding the fibre into the concrete, and in all the mechanical properties such as impact resistance, tensile strength and stiffness. We want to distinguish ourselves by putting a product on the market that is not based purely on the properties of the fibres, but rather on their actual performance within concrete. In this way, after many external tests, we are able to test the exact composition of concrete using our fibres for customers and thus to know exactly how it will perform.”

The new owner recently decided to invest in additional sales staff with both technical and commercial knowledge. In the future, Adfil also wants to reinvest more of its profits into the company. “Because we are now finally standing on our own, we will not only grow step by step, but are also in the process of becoming a small but very flexible player, in which our employees will also combine various roles. That is why we really want to dedicate ourselves to job satisfaction, because we consider the person behind the employee to be of paramount importance,” they said.


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