2013 Nonwovens Sales: $290 million
Y.K. Lee, chairman and CEO; W.C. Hwang, vice president, head of fiber division; Hitoshi Takeuchi, senior director, fiber division; W.S. Chun, senior director, fiber division; J.N. Kim, president of TPN; Y.K. Kim, president of TPJ
Korea, China, Indonesia
Spunbond PP (SS, SSS, SMS, SSMMS, SMMMS, bicomponent), PET (embossed and needlepunched)
Hygiene, medical, protective apparel, industrial specialties, agricultural, upholstery, filtration, construction, geotextiles
A huge boost in Chinese sales translated to impressive corporate growth for Toray Advanced Materials Korea (TAK) in 2013. The company reported sales of about $290 million compared to $256 million the year before due to a 45% jump in sales at Toray Polytech Nantong (TPN), the company’s Chinese division. Korean sales were flat while the company’s third division, TPJ in Indonesia, began contributing to sales in mid-2013.
During the past couple of years, TAK has been aggressively investing in Asia and is now in the process of adding its fourth line in Nantong, China, just eight years after entering the country. With this new line, which was announced in June and is expected to start operation by the end of 2014, the company’s Chinese output will reach 78,000 tons.
Toray established the Chinese site in 2006, added a second line in 2010 and the third line in 2012.
While Toray has always maintained that the Chinese spunmelt operation is one of its company’s most successful businesses, executives are reporting a slowdown in demand for the materials in China. However, this should soon turnaround as the market adapts to a reversal in the Chinese government’s one child policy.
“So many spunmelt investments in China has resulted in quite an oversupply situation in the whole Asian market,” Evan Lee, deputy general manager of Toray’s fiber marketing team. “This had led spunmelt suppliers to either lower their production or their sales prices. If demand does not increase dramatically there will be the need to adjust our strategy.”
Meanwhile, the company’s first Indonesian investment, which came onstream in mid-2013, is nearly sold out and the company is already considering a second line at this site. “The sales situation was good due to rapid growth in Indonesia,” Lee says.
The Indonesian site, located near Jakarta, added 20,000 tons to Toray’s global footprint and broadens its manufacturing footprint, allowing the company to supply all of Asia more easily and effectively.
All of this investment falls in sync with Toray’s strategy of becoming a leading maker of spunbond material in Asia, a goal that will be met with continued investment in China, Indonesia and other countries that can better meet the needs of the regions.
A subsidiary of Japan’s Toray Group, Toray was centered solely on the Korean market before expanding into China and more recently Indonesia. While the company continues to focus on the hygiene market within Korea, a low birth ratio and smaller population has made it less attractive than other Asian countries.
Instead, Toray has been working on expanding in industrial, agriculture, geotextile and consumer car markets. To do this, the company has shifted its investment focus from polypropylene spunbond to polyester, but success in these areas has been challenged by slow economic growth.
“It is not so easy to enter the polyester spunbond market as a new driving force for growth but we will still try to develop this market with new technology and applications,” says Lee.