Royal Ten Cate N.V. History

Postbus 58
NL-7600 GD
The Netherlands

Telephone: 31 546 54 49 11
Fax: 31 546 81 41 45

Public Company
Incorporated: 1957 as Nijverdale Ten Cate
Employees: 3,278
Sales: EUR 570 million ($680 million) (2003)
Stock Exchanges: Euronext Paris
Ticker Symbol: 375731
NAIC: 325991 Custom Compounding of Purchased Resin; 313210 Broadwoven Fabric Mills; 313312 Textile and Fabric Finishing (Except Broadwoven Fabric) Mills; 315999 Other Apparel Accessories and Other Apparel Manufacturing; 325211 Plastics Material and Resin Manufacturing; 325212 Synthetic Rubber Manufacturing; 326113 Unsupported Plastics Film and Sheet (Except Packaging) Manufacturing; 326130 Laminated Plastics Plate, Sheet, and Shape Manufacturing; 551112 Offices of Other Holding Companies

Company Perspectives:

Royal Ten Cate seeks to achieve international leadership in niche markets on the basis of technological commitment and innovative capacity. The company focuses on the production of advanced materials offering specific functionalities. In so doing it draws on the high level of expertise available in the organisation in both textile technology and the chemical processes related to the manufacture of technical textiles.

Key Dates:

First historical mention of the Ten Cate family being involved in textiles trade.
Hendrik Ten Cate founds a textile trading company.
Founding of G&H Salomonson, a textile trading company.
G&H Salomonson establishes Koninklijke Stoomweverij te Nijverdal (KSW).
G&H changes its name to KSW.
KSW installs a bleaching unit.
Ten Cate installs a spinning mill.
KSW installs a spinning mill.
KSW installs a dyeing unit.
KSW and Ten Cate begin talks to merge.
KSW and Ten Cate reach cooperation and profit-sharing agreement.
The KSW and Ten Cate merger is finalized.
Company acquires Nicolon.
Nicolon Corporation is established in the United States.
Company changes name to Royal Ten Cate.

Company History:

Royal (Koninklijke in Dutch) Ten Cate N.V. is one of the world's leading producers of technical textiles. The Nijverdal-based company is also the Netherlands' oldest industrial firm, tracing its history back to 1704. Since the early 1990s, Ten Cate has transformed its operations from traditional textiles to become a specialist in advanced and technical textiles including artificial grass fibers, used to replacement natural grass playing fields; antiballistic and flame resistant materials for personal and vehicle protection; fabrics for tents, awnings, protective clothing, construction fabrics, and fabrics, textiles and components for the environmental, agricultural, and other industries. The company is also a leading producer of caps and covers, such as used on aerosol cans, tissue boxes, and the like, through subsidiary Plasticum. Ten Cate also produces rollers for printers and copiers. Although based in the Netherlands, Ten Cate has a strong international presence, particularly in North America, which at 24 percent of sales is Ten Cate's largest market. At the mid-2000s, the company has been making an effort to expand its presence in the Asian region as well. Royal Ten Cate is listed on the Euronext Amsterdam stock exchange. In 2003, the company posted sales of EUR 570 million ($680 million).

18th Century Textile Origins

Although Ten Cate dated its origins from 1704, the Ten Cate family was likely already active in the textiles trade for some time--in 1691, for example, several members of the Ten Cate family had a signed a petition relating to trade duties, indicating that they were already established in business. The first mention of an involvement by the Ten Cate family in the Netherlands' textiles industry appeared only in 1704, however. More than half a century later, another Ten Cate, Hendrik Ten Cate, founded a new business in Almelo trading in textiles. By 1766, H. Ten Cate was operating as a commercial agent, buying yarn, which was then distributed among peasants in the Almelo area. The peasants fashioned the yarn into fabrics, which Ten Cate then sold.

H. Ten Cate grew into a prominent regional linen supplier. In the early 19th century, the company began seeking to export its fabrics, notably to the Dutch colonial possessions in Indonesia. Unable to gain permission from the Dutch Trading Company to enter Indonesia, H. Ten Cate bought up an existing weaving mill, which already acted as a fabrics supplier to Indonesia, in Almelo in 1841. That year also marked the company's first shift toward industrial production techniques.

Over the next century, H. Ten Cate grew into one of the Netherlands' most prominent textile concerns. The company's first expansion came in 1860, when it built its first steam driven mill. That business was operated under the name of Steam Weaving Mill Holland, and became a central part of the company. Ten Cate continued to expand its capacity through the turn of the century. In 1924, the company added its first spinning machinery.

The German occupation of the Netherlands during the Second World War caused severe hardships to the country's textiles industry. Emerging from the war, Ten Cate began seeking a partner for its future growth. In 1949, the company entered into a talks with the Koninklijke Stoomweverij (KSW) based just 15 kilometers away in Nijverdal.

That company had its origins at the beginning of the 19th century, when Gottfried and Heiman Salomonson began a business importing and selling cotton yard from England in 1916. G&H Salomonson remained a trading house until mid-century, when, at mid-century, they decided to enter manufacturing and located a site in Nijverdal, on the road between Almelo and Zwolle The site had originally been constructed Thomas Ainsworth, an Englishman, in 1836, in order to store and trade machinery for the Dutch Trading Company. Ainsworth built a warehouse, but died in 1841, leaving behind a spinning mill, a yarn sizing machine, and a weaving mill.

The Salomonson brothers bought the site in 1851, then decided to raze the existing structure. In its place the company built a larger steam-driven weaving mill, the first in the Twente region. The site was impressive, featuring more than 450 weaving looms, representing a major investment at the time. The following year, the company was granted the right to use the royal seal, and the site became known the Koninklijke Stoomweverij.

From the start, production at the Royal Stoomweverij was oriented toward the international market, and especially the Dutch colonial possessions. In order to support its export business, the company particiapted in establishing the Internationale Crediet en Handelsvereeniging "Rotterdam" N.V. in that important port city in 1863.

Heiman Salomonson's son Godfried joined the family business in 1859. The younger Salomonson played a decisive role in the company's growth and expansion over the next fifty years. An important moment for the company came with its incorporation as a limited liability company in 1872, as the Koninklijke Stoomweverij N.V. te Nijverdal (KSW). Part of the reason for the change in the company's status was a need to clarify the company's leadership among Godfried Salomonson and his cousins and nephews. Salomonson soon emerged as the company's sole leader and was credited with leading the company through an extended period of expansion. By the time of Salomonson's death in 1911, KSW had tripled its weaving capactiy.

KSW had also expanded its range of operations. In 1889, the company inauguarated its own bleaching plant. Through the 1920s, KSW, now led by Hein Salomonson, continued its expansion. In 1926, for example, the company established its own spinning mill. Two years later, KSW added a dye facility as well.

From Textiles to Plastics in the 1980s

KSW's talks with Ten Cate led to a cooperation and profit-sharing agreement as early as 1952. Over the next several years, the two companies moved closer to a full-scale merger, which took place in 1957. The new company, which became Nijverdal-Ten Cate, was granted the right to use the royal seal the following year.

Nijverdal Ten Cate remained focused on traditional textiles into the 1970s. In 1974, however, the company acquired fellow Dutch company Nicolon N.V. In the early 1950s, Nicolon had played a crucial role in the development of a new generation of dikes to protect the Netherlands' coastlines. For this project, Nicolon developed a highly resistant industrial textile, which was put in place as a mean to retain and protect the dike walls. The addition of Nicolon marked an important phase in Nijverdal Ten Cate's later transition from traditional to technical textiles.

Nicolon also became a spearhead of the company's international expansion. In 1980, the company set up a new subsidiary, Nicolon Corporation, in the United States, in order to begin producing and distributing its industrial textiles to this market. Over the next two decades, the North American market emerged as Ten Cate's single largest market, accounting for some 25 percent of its sales by the turn of the century.

Much of Ten Cate's growth during the period came through a series of acquisitions. In 1987, for example, the company acquired a 60 percent stake in Dutch specialty fabrics producer Kayser, which made fabrics for the medical market, but also outerwear and jeans fabrics. That purchase was followed by the acquisition of the European operations of the United States' Burlington in 1988.

Another 1987 acquisition, however, pointed the way toward Ten Cate's later transformation. The purchase of a 80 percent stake in Florida-based Bradley Materials not only boosted the group's U.S. presence, it also gave it control of a line of specialty industrial and geotextile fabrics used in civil engineering projects. The growing strength of Ten Cate's technical textiles sales was reflected in the expansion of its production capacity through the end of the decade.

Yet in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Ten Cate appeared to have lost interest in textiles. Instead, the company had made an entry into plastics, making a series of acquisitions that brought it operations including the production of pipe systems, polystyrene products, and, through its Plasticum unit, plastic packaging such as caps for aerosol sprays and other cans. Closer to home, Ten Cate also invested in a building capacity in a rang of plastic fabrics as well.

By 1994, the change in Ten Cate appeared nearly complete. In that year, plastics represented some 80 percent of the group's sales. The company had also shifted from producing traditional textiles, and now technical textiles stood at the core of the company's remaining textiles operations. Yet in that year, the company appeared prepared to exit technical textiles altogether. In January of 1994, for example, Ten Cate sold off a 75 percent stake in its Ten Cate Technical Fabrics division, which manufactured tent fabric, sailcloth, and other technical fabrics. Instead, the group, through a 50-50 joint venture with Shell, acquired France's Isobox, a maker of polystyrene-based packaging products.

Technical Textiles Focus in the New Century

Ten Cate adopted a new name in 1995, becoming Koninklijke Ten Cate. In the second half of the 1990s, the company abandoned its effort to transform itself into a plastics-focused company. The lingering recession in its core European markets--which continued to account for some 80 percent of the company's sales in the early 1990s--had convinced Ten Cate to shift its focus to technical textiles production. At the same time, the company shifted its plastics production to more specialized areas as well, such as the production of specialized rollers for printers and photo-copiers. Another key area for the group was the development of advanced anti-ballistics plastics. In 1999, the company expanded that segment through its purchase of Bryte Technologies, based in San Jose, California.

Ten Cate's shift toward advanced plastics led to the sale of its Plasticum caps business in the United States. The company also began plans to sell off its European plastics packaging operations as well, a strategy confirmed by the company in 2004. In the meantime, Ten Cate's momentum was carried forward by its technical textiles operations, and particularly its development of a new artificial grass fiber used for sports playing fields. In 2004, the company received an important boost when the UEFA, the European soccer federation, announced that it would permit playing on artificial grass for the first time in the 2005 season. After 300 years in operation, Ten Cate maintained a world leading position in the textiles industry.

Principal Subsidiaries: Ares Protection Sas (France); Bryte Technologies Inc (USA); Landscape Solutions BV; Multistiq International Coating BV; Ten Cate Advanced Composites BV; Ten Cate Advanced Spinning BV; Ten Cate Advanced Textiles BV; Ten Cate Advanced Weaving BV; Ten Cate Nicolon Asia Sdn Bhd (Malaysia); Ten Cate Nicolon Australia Pty Ltd (Australia); Ten Cate Nicolon BV; Ten Cate Nicolon USA; Ten Cate Permess BV; Ten Cate Permess Interlinings Hong Kong Ltd; Ten Cate Permess Italia Spa; Ten Cate Permess UK Ltd; Ten Cate Permess Xishan (China); Ten Cate Protect BV; Ten Cate Technical Fabrics BV; Ten Cate Thiobac BV; Ten Cate Thiolon BV; Ten Cate Thiolon USA Inc;

Principal Competitors: Sekisui Chemical Company Ltd.; Daikin America Inc.; PolyOne Corporation; A. Schulman Inc.; Shintech Inc.; Goldschmidt AG; TPI Polene PCL; Gamma Technologies; Reliance Industries;

Further Reading:

  • "300 years of Ten Cate," Future Materials, October 26, 2004
  • "Dutch Company Acquiring Southern Mills,", March 8, 2004.
  • White, Liz, "Ten Cate Seeks Partner for Globalisation," European Rubber Journal, April 2000, p. 10.
  • Wilson, Adrian, "Protective Action," Textile Month, July 1996, p. 8.
  • "Bryte Technologies Bought by Royal Ten Cate USA," Advanced Materials & Composites News, May 17, 1999.

Source: International Directory of Company Histories, Vol.68. St. James Press, 2005.