New owner takes the helm at paper honeycomb firm Honicel

16 January 2019 3 min. read

Dirk Schut, a partner at Fortaleza Capital, has acquired a majority stake in Honicel, a producer of paper-based honeycomb structures. The Dutchman has effective immediately been appointed CEO of the company. 

The company from the Netherlands supplies its products to mainly European clients in several industries, including aviation, automotive, furniture and public transport. The firm’s ‘paper honeycomb’ is for instance used as filling material for interior doors, or for filling room or office partition walls, serving as a substitute for traditional solid fillings, chipboard stripes or tube board. In buses, trains and cars the product is used as a production material for sunshades, spare tire covers, trunk plates, door trim panels, hat boards and roofing. 

In recent years, Honicel has seen its footprint and turnover grow on the back of the growing update of paper honeycomb. The material is low-cost, lightweight but robust, and is environmental friendly – paper honeycomb most commonly created from 100% recycled material, as is the case in Honicel’s production process. “Paper honeycomb is clearly recognised by more and more customers as a core material in sandwich constructions with unparalleled performance characteristics,” explained new owner Dirk Schut.

New owner takes the helm at paper honeycomb firm Honicel

According to an estimate by Accuray Research, the global honeycomb core material market will grow at a CAGR of 5.3% from 2017 to 2022, by then reaching an estimated market size of $640 million. Main drivers for the industry’s growth include increasing awareness on the solid performance of honeycomb core, rising demand for lightweight materials, and robust growth of the end use industries. Among the largest players in the industry are Argosy, DuPont, Tricel Honeycomb, Hexcel, Hexacomb, Core Composites and Polyumac.

Commenting on his ambitions for the company, Schut said, “Honicel occupies a unique niche position in the paper-based industry with an outstanding reputation and a track record of continuous innovation. We will continue to focus on our long-term customer relationships and explore further avenues for innovative growth.”

The company currently has an annual turnover of between €10 million and €15 million, generated by a team of forty professionals. In the coming 3 to 5 years, the turnover should grow by 30% to 40%, while profitability (EBITDA) should increase from today's 4% to 10%, says Schut.

One target eyed by the executive will be extending the firm’s international presence. Currently, the company has (sales) offices in the Netherlands, China, India, Indonesia and Russia.

Schut brings a wealth of experience in the paper & pulp industry to his new role. Previously, he was CEO and co-owner of SolidPack, which was acquired by VPK Packaging Group in 2017. Prior to that, he held several senior management positions at sector counterparts Meerssen & Palm, Schut Papier and De Naeyer Papier. 

In a deal advised on by Dutch corporate finance firm Fortaleza Capital, Schut has purchased an undefined majority stake in Honicel. The current management team will remain in place and continue to lead daily business operations.