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Materials

Asahi Kasei Closing U.S. Spandex Facility

by Michael McCoy
August 13, 2012 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 90, ISSUE 33

Asahi Kasei will shut down a spandex fiber facility in Bushy Park, S.C. The closure, to take place in October, will affect 133 people. Bayer built the facility in the mid-1990s to complement a spandex plant in Dormagen, Germany. Marketing spandex as Dorlastan, Bayer was a challenger to DuPont, which invented the fiber and sold it as Lycra. But soon after the Bushy Park plant opened, the U.S. spandex business began to suffer from Asian competition. DuPont sold its fibers business to Koch Industries in 2004. Lanxess, a Bayer spin-off, sold its spandex business to Asahi Kasei the following year, conceding that the business “has suffered for many years from the migration of textile markets to Asia.” As part of the acquisition, Asahi Kasei cut employment at the Bushy Park plant from 190 to 160 people. The Japanese firm says it further reduced costs at the site but that sales suffered after the global financial crisis. Asahi Kasei will continue to operate the German spandex plant as well as facilities in Japan, Taiwan, and Thailand that make its Roica spandex fiber.

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