Formed over 60 years ago as British Vita and now operate worldwide, supplying a vast range of materials for a wide spectrum of industrial applications including automotive, construction, media and packaging, for a range of markets from transportation to furniture and comfort.
We are the leader in a wide range of markets: cellular polymers in both Western and Eastern Europe, in engineered thermoplastic sheet in Europe, hygiene ADL (e.g. for diapers) in Europe and fire-resistant nonwoven mattress layers in the US.
With close to 80 sites in 24 countries, Vita prides itself on working with its customers to provide them with innovative, quality products. Our aim is simple – to be the best in all the markets in which we operate, and to achieve this we need to give our customers what they want, when they want it, at the right quality for the right price.
THE HISTORY OF THE VITA GROUP
Starting Out 1949 to 1959
Norman Grimshaw formed the original company, Vitafoam Limited, on £100 capital at Glen Mill in Oldham England.
The company diversified into automotive products, mattresses and divans.
Norman Grimshaw and Alf Broadbent made the first overseas trip to Malaya to examine rubber plantations.
Carpet underlay production commenced. Don Mill, Middleton was purchased.
Production commenced on the first phase of the continuous latex moulding plant at Middleton.
Expansion 1960 to 1969
The first overseas associate company, Perman-Air, was established in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).
Vitafoam’s first slabstock production of polyether foam was launched.
Manufacture of general rubber goods commenced.
A joint venture in Nigeria was established.
The first moulded polyether plant was installed at Middleton.
Vita-D racing team was established, sponsoring a BMC Mini.
A 60% stake was taken in a fibre processing company, Luxan Ltd at Milnrow, soon to be renamed Vitaluxan Ltd.
The Vita-D racing team won the European Touring Car Championship
Changing Outlook 1970 to 1979
A joint venture was established in Australia.
A joint venture was established in Canada.
The management structure changed to autonomous profit centres.Norman Grimshaw was awarded the CBE.
Vita Colourfoam Japan Ltd was established as a joint venture with Vitafoam Australia and Inoue MTP Co Ltd.
Caligen Foam was acquired, bringing experience in polyester foam technology. It also introduced Caligen Europe at Breda in the Netherlands, Vita’s first step into Continental Europe.
Libeltex in Belgium, Europe’s leading fibre fill manufacturer, was acquired.
In Pursuit of Growth 1980 to 1989
Tramico in France was acquired. Tramico produced block and moulded foam components for transport and furniture industries and marketed the revolutionary Tramivex composite vehicle roof liners and interior trims.
Vita reinforced its position in European foam markets with the acquisition of companies from the Solvay group, among these were Koepp and Veenendaal in Germany and Unifoam in Switzerland.
Rubber Latex Ltd was acquired; the operations became known as Vita Liquid Polymers in the UK and RLA Polymers in Australia.
Metzeler Schaum was acquired, including one of Germany’s major foam manufacturers and Kay-Metzeler in the UK. Metzeler brought with it Metzeler Plastics, manufacturers of thermoplastic sheet. A new division was born with the acquisition of engineering thermoplastic supplier Royalite Plastics, with sites in Scotland and Italy.
Technological breakthrough by Vitafoam allowed it to launch combustion-modified high-resilience foams (CMHR) ahead of market expectations.
A stake in Spartech Corporation gave Vita a strategic investment in the US, whilst also making Vita and its associates one of the world’s largest producers of engineering thermoplastic sheet.
Vitafoam moved back into the manufacture of carpet underlay with the acquisition of Ball & Young.
Investing in the Future 1990 to 1999
In the US, Vita acquired foam production facilities from a Missouri-based company. This company became known as Vitafoam Inc. and was Vita’s first foam production unit in the US.
The acquisition of the company known today as Radium Foam BV reintroduced latex foam production to Vita.
Strategic expansion was made into Poland with a greenfield project at Brzeg Dolny.
Further joint ventures and investments in Eastern Europe followed.
Reflex foam was launched in the UK.
French thermoplastics business Gaillon was acquired, as was Pullflex, the French foam manufacturer.
Major US foam manufacturing company, Olympic, was acquired.
Crest Foam Industries in the US joined Vita and brought reticulated foam technology.
A record year for acquisitions, with the total value of acquisitions during 1998 was £170m. New entrants included Hyperlast in Derbyshire and Doeflex PLC, with seven sites in the UK and Belgium.
New management structure was introduced and record profits of £73.7m were achieved.
Esbjerg Thermoplast in Denmark became the first Vita company to achieve accreditation to the Environmental Standard ISO 14001, closely followed by Vitamol in Ashton.
Vita acquired Elian SAS, a well-regarded French colour masterbatch manufacturer.
The new millennium
Texidel, a French company specialising in technical nonwovens for industrial uses, was acquired and joined the Libeltex group.
Rossendale Combining Company celebrated 100 years and was presented with a centenary certificate by Companies House.
Many companies within Vita adopted benchmarking techniques to assist in improving competitiveness.
Vita become a ‘Friend of the Commonwealth Games’ held in Manchester.
Vita acquired the trade and assets of Fabex Ltd, a UK thermoplastic sheet producer. The assets acquired were relocated to Vita’s existing thermoplastic sheet facility, VTS Doeflex.
Vita acquired Nolato Elastoteknik AB, a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) compounding business based in Sweden. The company became known as VTC Elastoteknik.
British Vita made six acquisitions during 2003. Although each was modest in size, they all contributed to strategic development into specific products and markets. The acquisitions included a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) compounding business in France (VTC France), colour masterbatch in Italy (VTC Synco), as well as a greenfield development in Malaysia (JGP Perrite) manufacturing a range of polypropylene, polycarbonate, ABS and polyamide products for the household appliance and electronics markets.
Vita acquired the outstanding 50% shareholding of Vitafoam Canada.
A foam conversion factory was opened in Romania, stretching Vita’s customer base further into central and eastern Europe.
Vita became a private company owned by the Texas Pacific Group (TPG).
Greenfield factories in Hungary and Slovakia were built and started production during the second half of 2005.
A new divisional structure, most with new senior management teams, revitalised Vita and ensured that it maintained its position in an increasingly competitive market.
New units opened in Romania, further extending our Eastern European business.
Operational Excellence training and projects take place across the Group; Green Belt awards are achieved in VitasheetGroup and Technical Foams divisions.
The VTC TPE Group added ultrasoft Zero Shore A rated TPE to its Mediprene range.
The Rubex Tubes Mattress won ‘High Product Quality’ award at the Interzum exhibtion.
Joe Menendez joins as Group CEO from Saint-Gobain.
Libeltex and Cellular Foams have a successful exhibition at INDEX in Geneva during April.
Pathway Polymers, Vita’s US PU systems and prepolymers developer and manufacturer, created one of the world’s most complete ‘one stop shops’ for tyre fill and other flatproofing products by forming an agreement with Urethane Holdings (UH) of Georgia, in the US.
Lean manufacturing initiatives continue to drive improved operating performance across the Group.
In April, the Group announced restructuring of its long-term financing and capital structure through a debt for equity swap and injection of funds from its major sponsor, TPG, and certain members of its existing lender group. Vita now has one of the strongest balance sheets in the polymer industry.
On 26 August the Group achieved its 60th anniversary.
2010 was an exciting time for the Group, geographic expansion saw new sites commissioned in Egypt, Croatia and Bulgaria. Despite tough trading conditions Vita continued to florish with further investment in key plant and equipment.