“Between 2007 and now, the firm has invested in laboratory analysis for polyol production with the help of European Union subsidies. On the back of that change in approach, 80% of the firm’s R&D work “focuses not on the chemical molecule but on the end user products,” Stefanowski said.
“We are constantly trying to find features that are attractive to our customer and very often we are fine tuning our products for our customers.
As part of this programme, PCC Rokita has a mini-scale plant where, according to Stefanowski, the firm is able to “convert designer technology for specific end user markets.”
“This enables us to come to the client and ask what can we do for you and that is working as a business model. By doing this we are learning how to compete and how to be efficient,” Stefanowski added.
Back at the close of the last decade, PCC Rokita’s nameplate capacity for polyether polyols was 65kT/year. Even then, as the recession took hold, PCC Rokita was keen to exploit its expansion potential and set a target for a 30kT/year increase in capacity. That plan was eventually frozen as a result of the recession.
Today, against a slow-growth European economy and volatility within its traditional Eastern European markets, plans for a 30kT/year expansion in polyether polyols over the next two years are in place. This will take the firm’s capacity to more than 120kT/year.
Growth and consolidation blueprint
Stefanowski described 2015 as “healthy period for PCC Rokita and it is now time for the company to invest in its future again.” A new polyester polyols plant and prepolymer unit are among PCC Rokita’s growth plans.
The firm’s system house, which is currently located close in Warsaw, will grow with capacities and production technologies in Brzeg Dolny, located around 400km south west of the capital. Stefanowski said the move is all part of its consolidation blueprint for the future.
He said: “We can already see that Southern Europe is recovering from the stagnation that we had seen since 2008 and 2009 with countries such as Spain, Italy and Portugal picking up. The companies that we are talking to are generally positive and they are willing to talk about new product lines and new developments.”
The EUR 10m investment will, said Stefanowski, open up markets in European countries, such as Germany and ItalY “Being at the centre of the European soft foam industry, it’s natural that we are strong in Poland, obviously that is our major market.
“Outside of Poland our second biggest market is Western Europe but we want it to be bigger and we see opportunity in South East Asia.”
To that end, plans to begin PU production in Thailand were mooted in a filing to the Warsaw Stock Exchange in April 2016. According to the filing, PCC Rokita may purchase a stake in its Thai partner, the Bangkok-based IRPC Polyol, with whom it is planning to set up a joint venture to produce polyols and PU systems in Thailand.
Home markets matter
But he said, Poland still remained the biggest market for flexible foam, which he said, statistics show it as the fourth largest furniture producing country in the world. “There are hundreds of furniture manufacturers in our country. It is one of our leading industries”
He said Poland’s furniture industry had seen a huge development in the past 20 years, partly attributable to the country’s abundance of forests, Stefanowski added.
Stefanowski continued: “Over the last ten years business has been booming but the growth phase began in the last millennium. Our foam industry mushroomed during that period and there is still investment in it now.”
“Within last 10 years we achieved a triple growth in capacity. Over the next 24 months we want to be on the market with additional products.
“That is not a matter of pushing someone out of the market. We are not aggressive against anyone, we just believe we have a real function in the industry,” added Stefanowski