Frankfurt Rhine-Main is home to the European headquarters of Kuraray Corp., a global specialty chemicals company and one of the world’s largest suppliers of industrial polymers and synthetic microfibers for many sectors of industry.

Kuraray Europe GmbH is Europe’s leading producer of polyvinyl alcohol and polyvinyl butyral. The company’s roots can be traced back to the establishment of a trading company in Duesseldorf in 1991. A decade later the company advanced its expansion in Europe by acquiring Swiss multinational chemical company Clariant AG’s polyvinyl alcohol and polyvinyl butyral operations in Frankfurt.

Matthias Gutweiler, Managing Director of Kuraray Europe | © KURARAY
Matthias Gutweiler, Managing Director of Kuraray Europe | © KURARAY

“The acquisition of this important Clariant business was a major milestone for Kuraray,” recalled Matthias Gutweiler, managing director of Kuraray Europe GmbH. “While this was the first time the company had acquired another business with a totally different company culture, it proved to be a perfect match. Kuraray has invested in Europe over the last 20 years and we have grown significantly. We have made a number of large European acquisitions, expanded capacity and grown organically. Within our organization, our businesses have developed and we have a strong and diverse mix of people and culture within the company.”

In two decades, the company’s sales turnover increased from €130 million (2001) to €730 million (2020) and today it employs about 1,000 people across Europe. Kuraray’s patented and global market-leading products, such as Trosifol and SentryGlas ionoplast interlayers are used for laminated safety glass applications in the architectural and automotive industries.

“Our solutions serve the needs of many different industries and can be used for various applications,” said Gutweiler. “We are the European leader in architectural glazing, are an important supplier to the automotive industry as well as to the packaging market. And all these markets have high potential: For example in the packaging market, an increase in public awareness about environmental concerns has resulted in higher demand for sustainable packaging. And we offer solutions such as biodegradable packaging solutions that completely dissolve in water or sustainable barrier coatings for paper packaging.”

Kuraray’s portfolio also includes chemical specialties, activated carbon products, thermoplastic elastomers, high-performance fibers, dental products and man-made leather.

“I have been with the company for 20 years and I am still impressed how we have developed,” said Gutweiler. “Strategic acquisitions are one pillar of success, but above all trust in our employees has improved our organizational alignment and contributed to our success in Europe.”