Asahi Kasei To Close U.S. Spandex Facility | Chemical & Engineering News
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Web Date: August 6, 2012

Asahi Kasei To Close U.S. Spandex Facility

Business: Japanese firm blames shutdown on weak demand, high raw material costs
Department: Business
Keywords: fibers, spandex, layoffs, employment
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STRETCH
Spandex is used to weave textiles for athletic wear.
Credit: iStockphoto
A bicycle rider wearing a garment containing spandex.
 
STRETCH
Spandex is used to weave textiles for athletic wear.
Credit: iStockphoto

A spandex fiber facility in Bushy Park, S.C., owned by Japan’s Asahi Kasei, will be shuttered in October, the company says, citing a challenging market in which prices are low despite high feedstock costs. The closure will affect 133 people at the site.

Asahi Kasei acquired the Bushy Park site when it bought the spandex business of Bayer spinoff Lanxess in 2005. 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.

At the time of the Lanxess unit acquisition, Asahi Kasei cut employment at the Bushy Park plant from 190 to 160 people. The Japanese firm says it has further reduced costs at the site but that demand has continued to weaken.

“Having exhausted such efforts and with no foreseeable prospect for a major recovery in the U.S. market, Asahi Kasei Fibers concluded that further investment in its U.S. spandex business could no longer be justified,” the firm says.

The U.S. spandex business has been suffering from Asian competition since the Bushy Park site was built. DuPont sold its fibers business to Koch Industries in 2004. And at the time of its deal with Asahi Kasei, Lanxess’ CEO acknowledged that the business “has suffered for many years from the migration of textile markets to Asia.”

Asahi Kasei will continue to operate the German spandex plant as well as facilities in Japan, Taiwan, and Thailand that make the firm’s Roica brand spandex fiber.

 
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