A successful integration
Bostik’s specialty adhesives have tremendous growth potential in the years ahead. Although presently accounting for just 13% of assembly methods worldwide, adhesives are well positioned to challenge traditional mechanical systems like screws in construction and transportation.
“From lighter materials to energy efficiency and sustainable products, we provide the operational and environmental responses global businesses expect,” says Vincent Legros, President & Chief Executive Officer of Bostik, one of the world’s leading providers of smart adhesives for industry, personal care products, construction and consumer goods.
A sign of the firm demand for specialty adhesives, Bostik’s revenue rose by 26% from €1.53 billion in 2014, the year it joined the Arkema family, to €1.94 billion in 2017. In addition to harnessing the €50 billion global adhesives market’s 3% average annual growth, Bostik is capitalizing on the marketing, financial and technological synergies created by its integration into Arkema.
“The merger increased our capex capacity and innovation potential, while making our brands more attractive to professionals and consumers,” notes Vincent Legros.
Targeted acquisitions for a faster growth
Targeted acquisitions over the last three years have accelerated the growth of Bostik’s Construction and Consumer Products segments. In late 2016, they acquired Den Braven, a leader in high-performance sealants for insulation and construction in Europe. In 2017, Bostik expanded its flooring solutions in the U.S. market with the acquisition of CMP Specialty Products, a floor prep business, and XL Brands, a leader in flexible flooring adhesives. Bostik is now becoming a powerhouse brand in this vibrant, fast-growing market.
"The need to stay close to customers"
This increased investment capacity has also helped grow the production capacity. Bostik opened a plant in Gujarat, India in 2017 to make polyurethane adhesives for flexible packaging. This move strengthened its position in a region experiencing a vibrant 4 to 5% growth, home to value-creating markets like flexible package lamination, transportation and shoe manufacturing. This follows last year’s startup of Bostik units in Malaysia, the Philippines and Sweden, all motivated by “the same need to stay close to customers,” as Vincent Legros explains.
Arkema and Bostik: stronger together
Lastly, Bostik and Arkema complement one another when it comes to innovation, a key component of their shared DNA supporting the Group’s innovation policy.
"Access to Arkema’s unique know-how in synthesizing chemicals has opened up new growth opportunities for us,” acknowledges Vincent Legros. By 2020, Bostik expects to generate 18% of its revenue from products less than three years old, compared with 15% today
Synergy in food packaging
Arkema and Bostik pool their technological expertise in the resealable food packaging market. Arkema’s Orevac® polymers, recognized for their barrier and adhesive properties, go into making the multilayer structures of flexible packaging. Meanwhile, manufacturers use Bostik’s M-Resins®, pressure-sensitive adhesives, to design resealable flexible packaging for consumers. The innovation is protected by several Bostik patents.
Process: switching to extrusion
By switching from a batch process to a continuous extrusion method to make a high-performance adhesive, Bostik optimized production and improved the product’s properties. It took six months in 2017 to transform the technology, with the help of Arkema’s Cerdato research center in France. The result has reduced contact time between the different components in the adhesive’s formulation (sticky resins and the polymers used as a reagent) from several hours down to a few minutes. And unlike batch production, this particular extrusion keeps the formulation’s components from overheating. The result is excellent control of chemical synthesis and improved adhesive performance.
Building the housing of the future
The Smart House test home at the Venette research center near Paris (France) was created in 2015 by Bostik and Arkema to explore innovations in high-performance insulation, energy efficiency, renewable energy, comfort and health. Researchers experiment with the functions of the full-scale 160-square-meter sustainable house, whose adhesive technologies and smart materials foreshadow the home of the future. The Smart House lab embodies Arkema’s open innovation process.
Modeling, or how to simulate high precision
In 2017, to formulate the best adhesive for the use, Bostik replicated the application environment of a disposable diaper maker. To do this, Bostik enlisted modeling specialists from Arkema’s CRRA research center near Lyon. Through simulation, they were able to analyze the physical and chemical processes that occurred as the adhesive was applied to the diapers’ elastic side strips, as well as the product’s behavior during wetting, bonding, cooling, etc. Bostik developed very effective solutions meeting the diaper market’s tough specifications for heating temperatures and formulation changes while accommodating fast-paced production.
Collaboration in water filtration
The same technological synergy is at work in the manufacture of ultra-filtration cartridges used to purify brackish water, thereby promoting universal access to drinking water. The fibers are produced with Arkema’s Kynar® PVDF fluoropolymers and supported by Bostik 2KPU® adhesives.
"Arkema’s expertise gives Bostik a differentiating advantage"
"There are real marketing and technological synergies between Bostik and Arkema. Marketing, because our solutions complement each other in shared markets such as packaging and construction, and technological, because our upstream and downstream activities feed one another and Bostik contributes to Arkema’s innovations in sustainable housing, lighter materials and electronics. Since improving an adhesive’s properties mainly comes down to how you formulate its components, Arkema’s expertise in specialty chemicals gives Bostik a differentiating advantage in smart adhesives."
FRANÇOIS COURT - BOSTIK RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT AND INNOVATION DIRECTOR