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Sapa, half a century of entrepreneurial spirit

Sapa, half a century of entrepreneurial spirit

Sapa is a fairly young company that has grown from a one-press operation into the world's leading value-added aluminium solutions provider in less than 50 years.

The Sapa growth story starts in a modest industrial building in Vetlanda, Sweden, and tells of a company that has grown to become the world's leading producre of extruded aluminium profiles; one of the three largest suppliers of profile-based building systems in Europe and the world's leading producer of aluminium strip for heat-exchangers to the automotive industry.

The entrepreneurial spirit

The entrepreneurial spirit arrived along with the two founding fathers, Mr Lars Bergenheim and Mr Nils Bouveng. After a period in the US, Lars and Nils decided that aluminium was the new material and was interesting enough to start extrusion production in Sweden. They named the company Sapa - Skandinaviska Aluminium Profiler AB. The year was 1963 and the rest is history.

Changing ownership

Eight years later, 1971, Sapa Vetlanda took the step abroad and inaugurated Scandex in Holland, and in 1976 the company was acquired by Gränges. In 1997, the by-then Elextrolux owned company was distributed to its shareholders and Gränges was listed on the Stockholm stock exchange. In 2000, Gränges changed its name to the original Sapa, but now as a stand-alone name used for all companies in the group. In 2005, when Norwegian Orkla acquired 100 percent of Sapa's shares, Sapa was de-listed. With growth ambitions and available capital, Orkla proved to be a strong and valuable owner of Sapa. A new era began, and structural changes were made over the coming years.

Shaping the new Sapa

With strong management in place, global leadership was created through a joint venture with Alcoa. The Sapa/Alcoa joint venture agreement was closed in June 2007 and it almost doubled the size of the company. It was a brilliant opportunity to shape the industry, and created the largest aluminium profile company in the world, with about 12,000 employees across three continents. With a broad product range, the joint venture became the leader for customized and fabricated products as well as the lowest-cost producer for standards. Customer intimacy, production improvements and structural flexibility all combined to improve the financial performance. The joint venture explored further growth potential to improve the balance between the USA, Europe and Asia.

A natural fit

The world's largest aluminium profiles producer then became even larger. In July 2009, Sapa completed a purchase of aluminium extrusion company Indalex. The deal imrpoved the company's geographical presence in North America and became a first step into Canada. By optimizing the broad market experience and technical knowledge in the two companies, Sapa was able to bring new solutions, benefiting both its customers and the aluminium extrusion industry as a whole.

Establishing a true footprint in Asia

Sapa established its first company in Shanghai back in 1996, with Sapa Heat Transfer (Shanghai) Ltd., and the operation of a new aluminium rolling plant started in 1999. Sapa Profiles entered the Chinese market in 2004. After a clear decision to establish a fooprint in Asia, work began in 2008 to find the best possible opportunities. In December 2011, Sapa bought an aluminium extrusion factory in Jiangyin, 150 kilometers from Shanghai. In April 2011, Sapa signed a joint-venture agreement with China's state-owned aluminium company, Chalco. The joint venture expands Sapa's operations beyond Shanghai's bustling and cosmopolitan hub to Chongqing, another major Chinese city in a municipality of 28 million people. In addition to obtaining a foothold in China, Sapa has also acquired plants in India and Vietnam. A joint venture with Ben Thanh Group has added a smaller extrusion plant located just outside Ho Chi Minh City. In India, Sapa has pulled on previous experience from the fabrication unit in Shanghai and has set up fabrication in central Bangalore. In addition, an extrusion plant just outside Bangalore has been acquired and has added important capabilities to the market. Sapa Building System established a sales office in INdia backin 2009 and Sapa's Heat Transfer business inaugurated a welding factory in April 2012. There is now a strong focus on Asia to ramp up capacity and develop the capabilities of the plants using Sapa's network and resources.

Getting ready for new challenges

In late 2011, Saa's owner Orkla announced that the future focus ond core of Orkla will be branded goods. As Orkla's growth will come through allocating capital within this area, Sapa was identified as a non-core area. Orkla's aim for Sapa going forward will therefore be on operational improvements to enable the company to achieve its stated financial targets and then, within two to three years, to find a structural way to exit.

 Half a century of entrepreneurial spirit: 

  1963   The first production plant was set up in Vetlanda, Sweden.    
  1964   Agents in Norway and Denmark.    
  1965   First anodising plant in Vetlanda.    
  1966   Sales representation in England.    
  1967   First sales of manufactured profiles.    
  1968   A second press and anodising plant outside Vetlanda.    
  1969   Sapa Ltd opens up a sales office outside London.    
  1970   Sapa's first building system: Sapa Spont was introduced.
Sales office in Denmark.
Sapa and OY Nokia sets up Nordalex NV in Hoogezand, Holland (later Scandex NV).
  1971   The first extrusion site outside Sweden was opened in Holland
Anodising plant in Vetlanda with a capacity of 12 metres in length.
Remelting plant set up in Vetlanda.
  1972   Sapa starts its own die manufacturing.    
  1973   Production plant set-up in Tibshelf, England.
Sales office in Zug, Switzerland.
  1974   Sales office in Lilleström, Norway.
Sales office in Esbo, Finland.
Sapa Front building system introduced.
  1975   Manufacturing in Torsby, Sweden.    
  1976   Gränges Aluminium buys the total number of shares in Sapa.
The new group is complemented with production plants in Finspång and Skultuna, Sweden.
Sapa sponsors Americas Cup.
  1977    Second press set-up at Sapa Ltd in Tibshelf.    
  1978   Sales office in Munich: Sapa Aluminium Profile GmbH.
Remelting plant in Tibshelf
  1980   The Swedish Electrolux Group acquires Gränges.
A 4,400 sqm production plant (with anodising facilities) is built in Holmewood outside Tibshelf, England.
  1981   Manufacturing in Grenaa, Denmark.
Third press set-up at Sapa Ltd.
  1983   Sapa becomes part owner in Aluminiumwerk Offenburg.    
  1984   Aluminiumwerk Offenburg becomes a wholly owned subsidiary and changes name to Sapa Aluminium Profile GmbH.    
  1985   Sapa acquires Scandex Aluminium NV in Hoogezand, Holland.    
  1987   Sapa acquires Sit Down International AB.
Sapa in Norway inaugurates a new sales office in Haugesund.
Sapa Front opens up a sales office in London.
  1988   Sapa's 25-years anniversary.    
  1990   Investment in a 3,000 tonnes press in Vetlanda.    
  1992   A new press (with anodising facilities) is built in Trzcianka, Poland.    
  1993   The new press in Vetlanda is inaugurated by the Swedish King.
Sapa acquires a profiles company in Albi, France.
  1994   An anodising line is started in Poland and Sapa is the second largest producer in Poland.    
  1995   A 6,500 tonnes press will be set-up in Finspång, Sweden and the second press in Poland is inagurated.
ECT: Environmental Concept Truck - a Volvo truck using space frame technique sets out on a world tour. Sapa is one of five prime suppliers.
Gotthard Group sold.
  1996   Sapa introduces Friction Stir Welding, a new revolutionary welding method, in Sweden.
The remelting plant in Sjunnen, Sweden is extended and the new capacity is 30,000 tonnes per year.
Sales office in Tallin, Estonia.
Sapa acquires the Bredon Group, with Indalex and Glostal, in Cheltenhem, UK.
The Nordic metal distribution sold.
  1997   Sales office in Lithuania.
Gränges AB is reintroduced on the Stockholm Stock Exchange.
The metal distribution in the UK sold.
  1999   Sapa in Norway celebrates 25 years.
Sapa acquires France's largest independent profiles company Intexalu and building systems company Aluvar.
A new lacquering and manufacturing plant is to be set up in Lodz, Poland.
The smelting plant in Sundsvall sold.
  2000   Sapa gets its first foot-hold in America by the acquisition of Anodizing and on the Iberian peninsula by the acquisition of Portuguese Anodil.
UK Securistyle divested.
  2001   Eurofoil Group and Autoplastics sold.    
  2002   UK Pressweld is acquired. Pressweld specialises in manufacturing of profiles for the high-end automotive market.    
  2003   Remi Claeys Aluminium is acquired.    
  2004   Fabrication plants for aluminium profiles is established in Kaunas, Lithuania and in Shanghai, China.
Sales office established in Riga, Latvia.
  2005   Sapa is acquired by Orkla and delisted from the Stockholm Stock Exchange
Slovakian Alufinal is acquired
  2006   Alufinal is fully embraced in Sapa. The company changed name to Sapa Profily a.s.
Nils Bouveng, one of Sapa’s two founders, passed away 25 April at the Höglandssjukhuset Hospital in Eksjö, Sweden. Nils was 77 years old.
The new vertical anodising plant in Vetlanda, Sweden, was inaugurated. The investment is the largest one in the history of Sapa so far (200 MSEK).
Sapa in Poland celebrated the opening of the new press, PL3 and the new anodising line, A2.
The fabrication division within Sapa Profiler in Sweden is converted into an independent subsidiary company: Sapa Komponenter AB.
Inauguration of the plant expansion (doubled the capacity to 45,000 tonnes per year) at Sapa Heat Transfer in Shanghai. 
10 years anniversary at Sapa Heat Transfer in Shanghai. 
Opening of the new plant (three times as big as the previous area) for Sapa Profiles in Shanghai.
Orkla and Alcoa signs a letter of intent with the intention of creating a J/V with Sapa's and Alcoa's profiles operations.
Lennart Evrell is appointed President and CEO of Sapa.
  2007   Aluminium profiles joint venture between Sapa and Alcoa: the world's largest aluminium profile company is created.
Ole Enger is appointed President and CEO of Sapa.
  2008   On 22 December, Orkla and Alcoa concluded an agreement on the exchange of assets in two jointly-owned companies. Orkla is taking over Alcoa's 45.45 % equity interest in Sapa Profiles, making it 100 % owner. At the same time, Alcoa is taking over Orkla's 50 % equity interest in the aluminium smelting company Elkem Aluminium, making it wholly owned by Alcoa.    
  2009   Björn Wiggen is appointed President and CEO of Sapa.
Orkla becomes 100% owner of Sapa.
Acquisition of Indalex (US and Canada) per 31 July 2009.


  2010   Sapa acquires 65% of the shares of the aluminium extrusion company Vijalco and forms a joint venture with the Vietnamese Ben Thanh Group. The new company will be called Sapa BTG
Sapa signs letter of intent to form a joint venture with Chinas largest aluminium company, Chalco, to serve the rolling stock market in China.
Tim Stubbs is appointed President and CEO of Sapa.
Sapa acquires Thule's integrated roof rail business in the UK and Poland
  2011   Sapa Profiles India Pvt Ltd entered into an agreement with Alufit (India) Pvt Ltd, whereby Sapa will buy the assets of Alufit related to its aluminium extrusion business operated out of its plant in Kuppam, close to Bangalore in southern India. 
Svein Tore Holsether is appointed President and CEO of Sapa.
Sapa and Chalco (Aluminium Corporation of China Limited) forms a joint venture to serve the Chinese rolling stock market. Each party will have 50% shareholding in the new J/V.
Sapa aquires one of the larger extrusion plants in the Yangtze River Delta region outside Shanghai, China. The plant named Sapa Profiles (Jiangyin) Co. Ltd has 15 presses and a total production capacity of 60,000 tones.
   2012   Grand opening of Sapa Profiles (Jiangyin) Co. Ltd on 15 Feb. The plant is announced to become the production center for Sapa Profiles in the Yangtze Delta.
Sapa Heat Transfer Division inaugurated their tube production facility in Pune, India on 16 April.
Orkla ASA and Norsk Hydro ASA have agreed to combine their respective profiles, building systems and tubing business, creating the world’s leading aluminium solutions provider. The new combined company, to be named Sapa, will be a 50/50 joint venture owned by Orkla and Hydro.