Texon claims to be the largest manufacturer of footwear material, components, consumables, and CAD/CAM to the global footwear industry after eighteen months of rapid expansion. During this time, the company bought eight other footwear businesses, including insoling manufacturers and suppliers around the world such as Chamberlain Materials, Foss Footwear Division, Boxflex, and Claravon.

Alan Kennedy, product manager, non-woven insole materials, said: "The product ranges of acquired companies have been brought in to enhance our established range of Texon materials so that we can satisfy all shoe manufacturing requirements. The acquisition of other businesses has also brought more new technologies into the Texon group, helping us to continue to be innovators of shoemaking materials and retain our position as market leaders."

The Texon International group of companies encompasses the world with insoling manufacturing plants in the UK, Germany, France, Italy, China, Brazil and the USA. The company manufactures insoling in cellulose, non-woven and cotton materials.

The company has also announced two new launches in the non-woven insoling range - Texon Perform and Texon Venture. These feature fibres that have been needled and fusion-bonded to provide light but very strong materials. They are multi-directional and so can be cut in any direction for ease of manufacture and waste reduction. As they are also heat resistant, they can be used in any shoemaking process, particularly Strobel applications. Texon Perform has been designed for the athletic sector, while Texon Venture is more suitable for applications such as boots for hiking or extreme sports.

Mr Kennedy continued: "We have just begun to manufacture non-woven materials at our production plant in Foshan, China, where we have successfully been manufacturing cellulose materials for some years. Initially we will be producing Strobel materials for use in athletic footwear, but we hope to build on this with further products in the near future. This is in line with our policy of making and supplying materials where they are actually needed. In this respect, for the last eighteen months we have been operating a 'floating warehouse' system to cut lead times and run the leanest supply chain possible.

"This means that post-production, materials are automatically shipped to the parts of the world where they are required, awaiting customer orders en route, thus creating the shortest lead times possible from factory to factory. Unallocated materials are stored and available ex-stock from our overseas warehousing."

Texon's research department is also developing new insole material concepts, such as Ecosole, that are built wholly around recyclability for both cellulose and non-woven markets.