Tokyo, Japan -- Spandex fibre manufacturer Asahi Kasei Fibers, with six manufacturing sites worldwide, is restructuring operations and closing its US unit, a move it says is designed to "improve business results."
The US subsidiary, Asahi Kasei Spandex America Inc., which employs 133 people, will stop manufacturing elastic polyurethane fibres in October this year, the company announced, 3 August 2012.
Asahi Kasei Fibers (AKF) markets two spandex brands. Roica uses integrated production from raw material to finished yarn and is based on the company's proprietary technology. It also makes Dorlastan with technology acquired from Lanxess Group of Germany in 2006. This is produced at plants in the US and Germany.
Ashai Kasei Fibres said, "The global spandex market has been extremely challenging in recent years, with oversupply putting downward pressure on sales prices even as feedstock costs remain persistently high."
The company added that, "Particularly in the US, where market demand has been weak ever since the global financial crisis of 2008, satisfactory business performance has been difficult to achieve."
To revitalise its business, the US operation has cut operating costs, but with no foreseeable prospect for a major recovery in the US market, Asahi Kasei Fibers has concluded that further investment in the US spandex business "could no longer be justified."
Asahi Kasei Fibers said after the closure, it will be in a stronger position to increase its spandex earnings by enhancing production capabilities at the remaining sites, focusing on innovative product development and more efficient sales.
Other AKF spandex plants are: Roica, Moriyama, Shiga prefecture, Japan; Formosa Asahi Spandex Co. Ltd , Taipei, Taiwan (50 percent owned by AKF); Hangzhou Asahikasei Spandex Co. Ltd, Hangzhou, China (100 percent owned by AKF); Thai Asahi Kasei Spandex Co. Ltd, Chonburi, Thailand (60 percent owned by AKF); Asahi Kasei Spandex Europe GmbH, Dormagen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany (100 percent owned by AKF).