Our History

Starting Out 1949 to 1959

1949

Norman Grimshaw formed the original company, Vitafoam Limited, on £100 capital at Glen Mill in Oldham England.

1954

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.

1955

Carpet underlay production commenced. Don Mill, Middleton was purchased.

1957

Production commenced on the first phase of the continuous latex moulding plant at Middleton.

Expansion 1960 to 1969

1960

The first overseas associate company, Perman-Air, was established in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).

1962

Vitafoam's first slabstock production of polyether foam was launched.
Manufacture of general rubber goods commenced.
A joint venture in Nigeria was established.

1963

The first moulded polyether plant was installed at Middleton.
Vita-D racing team was established, sponsoring a BMC Mini.

1967

A 60% stake was taken in a fibre processing company, Luxan Ltd at Milnrow, soon to be renamed Vitaluxan Ltd.

1968

The Vita-D racing team won the European Touring Car Championship

Changing Outlook 1970 to 1979

1971

A joint venture was established in Australia.

1973

A joint venture was established in Canada.

1975

The management structure changed to autonomous profit centres.Norman Grimshaw was awarded the CBE.

1976

Vita Colourfoam Japan Ltd was established as a joint venture with Vitafoam Australia and Inoue MTP Co Ltd.

1978

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.

1979

Libeltex in Belgium, Europe's leading fibre fill manufacturer, was acquired.

In Pursuit of Growth 1980 to 1989

1984

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.

1985

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.

1986

Rubber Latex Ltd was acquired; the operations became known as Vita Liquid Polymers in the UK and RLA Polymers in Australia.

1988

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.

1989

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

1991

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.

1992

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.

1993

French thermoplastics business Gaillon was acquired, as was Pullflex, the French foam manufacturer.

1996

Major US foam manufacturing company, Olympic, was acquired.

1997

Crest Foam Industries in the US joined Vita and brought reticulated foam technology.

1998

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.

1999

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

2000

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.

2001

Many companies within Vita adopted benchmarking techniques to assist in improving competitiveness.

2002

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.

2003

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.

2004

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.

2005

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.

2006

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.

2007

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.

2008

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.

2009

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.

Changing footprint

2010

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 flourish with further investment in key plant and equipment.

2011

Our flooring business, Ball & Young, strengthened its position and competitiveness as market leader in the UK following the commissioning of a state of the art block production facility at its plant in Corby. New lean management programmes, waste reduction efforts and improved supply chain efficiency initiatives were made throughout the Group.

2012

In January, the share capital of Elian SAS was sold to ICO Europe BV, a subsidiary of Schulman. Significant investment in capacity expansion at our Chemical
Innovations business, in the UK, was made during the first quarter of 2012 in order to further develop our rapidly expanding bonding agent business.

On 31 July, Vita divested of its Cellular Foams’ European automotive headliner businesses to Howa Textile Industry Co Ltd of Japan. Vita sold its Nonwovens businesses in September, the Libeltex Group was acquired by a subsidiary of the German based TWE Group and Vita Nonwovens in the US was acquired by management backed by Capital South, a US based private equity firm.

Speaking about the divestments, Vita Group CEO Joe Menendez said ‘These divestments are part of a planned programme to realise return on investment and are the third and fourth transaction by the Group this year. The funds raised have been and will be used to pay down gross debt, hence reducing interest charges, as well as to invest in market growth for our remaining businesses.’

2013

Vita sold Pathway Polymers Inc.(PWP) to Dash Multi-Corp Inc on 30 April. In September Vita sold its engineering plastics businesses comprising Perrite, based in Warrington UK,  VTC Malaysia, based in Johor Baru and SAS Jackdaw Polymeres, based in Savigny, France to A. Schulman. Vita's Senior Leadership Teams are enthusiastic about these divestments and are convinced that they will benefit the businesses, customers and employees.

2014

Greater focus on our Cellular Foams businesses was created through the divestment of the thermoplastic sheet businesses and the sale of the RLA Polymers group; both transactions took place in early January 2014. This was followed in July by the divestment of Vitafoam Products Canada.


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