In April 2023, European tissue giant WEPA Group discussed its ambitious plans to maintain the top spot, and its 25% market share in its home country Germany. Then, the company had five German production sites in Giershagen, Leuna, Kriebstein and Mainz plants produce for its Consumer business unit and its Müschede plant for its Professional business unit.

Around 80% of its revenue was generated by its Consumer business unit and approximately 20% by its Professional business unit. The yearly production capacity of the German plants ranged from 60,000 to 127,000 tonnes per plant. Operational excellence was – and remains – key, and the company emphasised how it would continuously invest in state-of-the-art manufacturing technology.

The global tissue market had, at the time, been characterised “by multiple external crises” including supply chain disruption, the energy crisis and inflation. WEPA enforced it had “adapted in a very agile way to master these challenges”. And that as a family business, it had clearly positioned itself “to become number one in sustainability in the industry.”

Now in June 2024, the company confirms that its operation excellence efforts remain key, and it has continuously invested in state-of- the-art technology at its sites. In June 2023, WEPA invested in its Kriebstein mill by integrating the stock preparation unit of the insolvent Kübler & Niethammer Papierfabrik Kriebstein. This has meant that WEPA now manufactures recycled products in an integrated manner at Kriebstein, and offers recycled paper to third parties beyond its own needs. In the context of the expansion of the site, WEPA has hired 40 former Kübler and Niethammer employees.

In January 2024, WEPA Professional announced the successful acquisition of the UK’s Star Tissue UK, a prominent British hygiene paper provider based in Blackburn, Lancashire. With this step, WEPA says it has underlined its strategic commitment to further growth in the UK’s professional hygiene market.

Generally, the company also sees “huge interest in its products made from recycled cardboard”, and still sees growth potential in this area.

Depending on the market WEPA is still seeing a growth in the private label business, which it adds “comes with additional opportunities for us as a private label specialist: price levels remain on a high level, so lots of shoppers are looking for alternatives like private label products – without compromising on quality.”

For the rest of 2024 and 2025, the company says “investments have to make a clear contribution to greater sustainability, and we will keep investing in our mills in the future. We strive for continuous optimisation of our existing assets. From our point of view, our products made from recycled cardboard will be the future hygiene paper, so we expect further growth in this area in the coming years. In Germany, a lot of retailers offer our products already and we aim at convincing more and more consumers that hygiene paper made from recycled cardboard is sustainable on the one hand, but that it is also a very soft and high-quality product.”