Plans are underway at Korean spunbond specialist Toray Saehan, Inc. (TSI) to expand from its Korean base into China. The company plans to focus on the growing Chinese hygiene market as a new investment target. In line with this strategy, the company has established a new subsidiary called TPN, Toray Polytech Nantong, and is building a $60 million SMMS plant in Nantong, Jiangsu Province, near Shanghai, which is expected to reach commercial production levels by February 2008.
The move represents its first foray outside of Korea. Heading up the new operation are J.N. Kim, president of TPN and W.C Hwang, director of TPN. While Mr. Kim specializes in new plant construction and operations, Mr. Hwang has more than 15 years of technical experience in the production of nonwovens. “Mr. Kim and Mr. Hwang will play an important role in the start-up of our TPN operation in China,” said company spokesperson H.B. Lee.
The state-of-the-art line will be capable of meeting strict requirements in the hygiene, medical and protective apparel sectors. “The facility will provide multiple solutions to Chinese and other Asian clients,” he said. “The Asian region’s economic growth, along with growing demand for hygiene products, will be a positive factor for this new capacity.” The plant is forecast to grow to four lines in the future.
According to Mr. Lee, China had a market penetration ratio of approximately 10-12% in the baby diaper sector and 65% in the feminine hygiene market in 2006. “China's per capita GDP grew to $2000 in 2006,” said Mr. Lee. “As living standards improve, the marketshare of nonwovens is increasing in areas such as hygiene, medical, household, apparel and shoes.
TSI operates five polypropylene-based spunbond nonwovens lines and a single polyester spunbond line in Korea, which, according to TSI, represents the largest single plant capacity in Asia at 54,000 tons.