Now that all the smoke has cleared, the news has surely filtered through about cigarette-filter maker Filtrona. In addition to its cigarette filters (used by such tobacco giants as Altria and British American Tobacco), Filtrona makes a variety of other specialty fiber and plastic products, including pen wicks and self-adhesive tear tape and labels. Filtrona has more than 30 manufacturing facilities and 60 sales and distribution centers, and five research and development centers scattered across the Americas, Asia, and Europe. Founded in the 1940s, Filtrona was spun off from Bunzl in 1984 and began trading alongside its former parent on the London Stock Exchange.
Filtona concentrates on manufacturing and distributing small but essential products in high volumes to a wide range of customers. Serving niche markets worldwide, the company operates through four main divisions: Coated and Security Products, Filter Products, Porous Technologies, and Protection and Finishing Products.
In addition to producing its self-adhesive tear tape (used for opening packages of cigarettes, snack crackers, and other products), Filtrona's Coated and Security Products division makes security products (plugs, caps, insulators), custom packaging components for consumer goods, and other products. Most of the company's plastic products are sold under the Payne brand name.
The company's Filter Products division focuses on filters and other items for the cigarette industry -- including roll-your-own filter tips. Its Porous Technologies products include medical diagnostics and wound care items, inkjet printer cartridges, writing instruments, and air fresheners.
The PFP division supplies mostly plastic protection and finishing products for markets such as electrical controls, hydraulics, oil and gas, pneumatics, and tubular metals.
Pivotal to Filtona's growth has been finding acquisitions that complement the company's holdings, particularly businesses involved in manufacturing, sourcing, and distributing products for consumer, medical, and industrial markets. Filtrona seeks businesses that have strong positions in niche international markets.
The company recorded a strong performance in 2011, with revenues up 11% over the previous year and growth across all divisions. Net income inched up a slight 1%, primarily due to the cost of the company's acquisitions. However, Filtrona believed its purchases enhanced its product offerings and technical capabilities. They also widened its geographic reach.
In 2010 Filtrona acquired adhesive tape manufacturer Stera Holdings for just over $4 million. Stera, based in northeast England, has been combined with Duraco, part of Filtrona's PFP division. The next year the company acquired US-based Reid Supply, which distributes industrial components such as hardware, handles, and clamps, and added it to the PFP division. Later in 2011, the company acquired US-based Richco for $110 million. Richco, which manufactures plastic and metal fasteners, cable ties, and circuit board hardware, also became a part of the PFP portfolio.
Filtrona changed course in 2012 and added to its Coated and Security Products division by acquiring UK-based Securit World, which distributes personal ID card systems, printers, software, and associated accessories. The purchase also complements Filtrona's Payne Security personal ID products business for the consumer packaging, identity, and valuable documents markets.
Also in 2012, Filtrona acquired South Korea-based Jae Yong, which makes reservoirs, tubes, and nibs for writing instruments. Jae Yong extends the company's global presence in the Asia/Pacific region and also expands its products line by including other components for markers, highlighters, and ink-based writing instruments.
The company expanded its product offerings again in 2012 by acquiring for an undisclosed amount US-based Lymtech Scientific, which manufactures and distributes porous speciality wiping materials used in cleanrooms and other environments by the medical, life science, electronic, and industrial markets. Lymtech, now under the company's Filtrona Porous Technologies unit, also adds a distribution selling channel and expands Filtrona's presence in Europe and Asia. – less