The 1990s began with a world-wide financial crisis, which hit Nefab with declining volumes and lower profits. But throughout the tough times Nefab continued to invest and expand the global footprint.
Two business segments that thrived during the ‘90s were the Telecom and Automotive industries, and Nefab took significant steps in strengthening the product portfolio of returnable solutions to better meet the needs of Automotive players.
The mobile telephony boom was a driving factor for Nefab’s further expansion in Asia and Americas, while also broadening the customer base among telecom vendors. In the Americas Nefab also built footprint and capabilities to serve companies in the energy sector with heavy duty packaging solutions for products such as turbines and generators. In the spring of 1996 Nefab was introduced on the Stockholm stock exchange, in conjunction with a new emission which would be used to further fuel the international expansion.
The Canadian market grow rapidly during the ‘90s, and in 1992 a special division – Heavy Duty – was established to target companies with a need for larger packaging solutions. The Heavy-Duty division manufactured large bolted skids with plywood enclosures and large pallets.
The automotive industry was undergoing major changes during the 1990s. A growing number of automotive companies established assembly plants in prioritized export markets to meet market demands of shorter delivery times. With the changes, several interesting business opportunities arose for Nefab in the new flow of goods between central production units of different automotive manufacturers, their subcontractors, local assembly plants, distributors, and service workshops. At the time, Nefab had been developing and using reusable packaging in own product flows for nearly 10 years. This expertise and know-how was used to develop the RePak product concept, which was launched in 1992.
The RePak concept, was as the Vikex, designed to be shipped collapsed to save space in both transportation and warehousing. The difference between the two solutions was that RePak was designed to be reusable and used in distribution flows with fixed delivery points. With RePak, customers could use the same packaging several times between the distribution points resulting in a lower packaging spend, and reduced impact on the environment.
In May 1996, Nefab was introduced on Stockholm’s stock exchange in connection with a new emission.
A decision to expand into Brazil was made in the late ‘90s. An office was established in Brazil in 1997 and the Brazilian manufacturing plant started operations in October 1998. Sales growth in Brazil was driven by the continued growth of the mobile telecom market and Nefab signed contracts with telecom vendors. The telecom equipment industry evolved as a major customer segment for Nefab during the 1990s. Rapid development of mobile telephony was a strong contributing factor. The number of mobile subscribers worldwide increased by approximately 35 percent annually from 1995 to 2000. “How was this possible?”, a millennial might ask. Well, these were times of a true mobile revolution. The mobile revolution was also becoming a reality in China, and consequently Nefab decided to establish a manufacturing site in Wuxi 1997. The Wuxi site would over the coming years be complemented by more sites, all across China.