Location: Seoul, Korea
Sales: $115 million
Description: Plant Locations
Gumi, Kyungsang-Bukdo, South Korea; Nantong, JIangsu Province, China (February 2008)
ISO-9001: 1999; ISO-14001 (environmental certification): 1999; ISO-18001 (operational certification): 1993
Y.K. Lee, president and CEO; Y.K. Kim, senior vice president; Shigeto Fukuda, senior vice president; J.N. Kim, president of TPN; W.C. Hwang, director of TPN
Spunbond PP (SS, SSS, SMS, SMMS), PET
Jesbon (PP), Techbon (PET), Airbon (protective apparel)
Hygiene, medical and protective markets, industrial specialties, agricultural, upholstery, filtration, PP/PE bicomponents, geotextiles
A joint venture company of Toray Industries of Japan and Saehan of Korea, spunbond specialist Toray Saehan, Inc. (TSI) saw a 16% jump in sales in 2006 to $115 million, representing 16% of the company’s total turnover. TSI’s dollar-based turnover figure compares favorably to an increase of only 6% in Korean currency due to the weakness of the dollar versus the Korean won. In 2006 the won appreciated 8%.
Overall, the company was disappointed in its earnings performance in 2006 due not only to the sharp appreciation of the Korean won against the U.S. dollar but also elevated raw material prices for polypropylene resin. In response to these conditions, TSI increased its Korean domestic marketshare and shifted away from less attractive export markets. “Producers of polypropylene-based nonwovens experienced the highest-ever resin prices last year due to oil price hikes,” commented company spokesperson H.B. Lee. “This hurt most manufacturers in 2006 and we are very concerned about a repeat of this trend in the second half of this year.”
At 54,000 tons, annual capacity levels remained steady this year for TSI. The company continues to operate 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. Through its state-of-the-art technology, the company fabricates top-quality spunbond materials including multiple layers for lightweight nonwovens with SMS, SSMMS and bicomponent layers. For backsheet applications featuring enhanced softness, TSI offers SSS products while the company’s SMS products target medical end uses such as gauze, surgical drapes and gowns.
Currently, TSI’s geographic sales regions span the globe, with 47% of business generated in Korea, 24% coming from Japan and other markets representing 29%. With exports representing more than half (53%) of its total business, major export regions include Japan, China, Taiwan and the ASEAN countries. In Japan, TSI now holds a 15-20% marketshare in the hygiene market where it supplies quality-oriented services. Of TSI’s total business, hygiene continues to represent about two-thirds.
Beyond its Korean base, TSI 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. Heading up the new operation are J.N. Kim, president, and W.C Hwang, director. 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 Mr. Lee. (For more on TSI’s Chinese expansion, see Nonwovens News, page 16.)
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,” he said. “As living standards improve, the marketshare of nonwovens is increasing in areas such as hygiene, medical, household, apparel and shoes.
Outside of hygiene and medical segments, uses of TSI’s spunbonds in agricultural applications are becoming more diverse as farming technologies evolve. “As a supplier of quality agricultural materials, TSI helps farmers increase crop yields and boost productivity. We provide fabrics for curtains, thermal covers, rice seedbed and red pepper mulching, tunnel mulching and alpine vegetable mulching,” said Mr. Lee.
TSI’s spunbond fabrics are also finding varied uses in commodity-type applications. Toray Saehan’s major polypropylene spunbond products include meltblown spunbond, SMS, SMMS, SSMMS as well as polyester spunbond including embossed and needlepunched spunbond.
Wrapping up, Mr. Lee said that TSI enjoys the largest share of the Southeast Asian spunbond market. “As we steadily expand our capabilities, reducing the weight of spunbonds and increasing our production capacity, we aim to achieve the top position in the global spunbonded nonwovens market.