2014 Nonwovens Sales: $342 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), polyester (embossed and needlepunched)
Hygiene, medical, protective apparel, industrial specialties, agricultural, upholstery, filtration, construction, geotextiles
An ambitious Asian expansion plan has paid off for Korea’s largest nonwovens producer. Toray Advanced Materials Korea (TAK) reports an 18% increase in sales to $342 billion for the year 2014. While the growth was not as impressive in Korea, up only in the single digits, the group’s Chinese arm increased its sales more than 10% while Toray Polytech Jakarta in Indonesia, which began operation in June 2013, increased more than 200%.
“Our Indonesian SSMMS line—with an annual capacity of 20,000 tons—started in late June in 2013,” says export manager Evan Lee. “Our Korean technician and Indonesian staff stabilized our new machine quickly to produce high quality spunmelt for hygiene application and therefore we could operate fully starting in early 2014 and supply hygiene customers in Indonesia and ASEAN countries.”
In December 2014, just 18 months after starting up line number one, Toray announced it would add a second line, capable of making 18,000 tons per year, in Jakarta. The new line should be complete in September 2016 and will bring Toray’s total spunbond capacity in Asia to 153,000 tons.
“The ASEAN region is one of our most important and strategic market, and Indonesia is the biggest market in ASEAN countries,” Lee says. “The Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam market is the our next target market in ASEAN except for Indonesia.”
Meanwhile, in China, another important growth region, Toray completed work on its fourth line in Nantong in June. This line, an SSSS spunbond line with an annual capacity of 20,000 tons is specialized in thin and soft products for the growing premium hygiene market and it makes the Nantong site the largest nonwovens plant in Asia, according to Lee.
With the Asian market for polypropylene spunbond nonwovens expected to increase from 660,000 tons in 2016 to 936,000 tons in 2020–due to both explosive baby diaper needs in emerging ASEAN countries and adult diaper needs in Korea—the hygiene market is a good one to be in and much of Toray’s output in this region targets these markets.
“The Asian hygiene market is a good market in nonwovens with strong and stable growth, but many nonwovens companies focus on supplying their products to major diaper companies to aggressively expand their capacity, therefore sales are growing but the profits so much,” Lee says. “We have a long-term investment plan in Asia and we are considering our next investment consistent with this.”
While Toray has focused heavily on the hygiene market for growth in Asia, within its domestic market of Korea its product portfolio is more diverse targeting hygiene, medical, industrial, household goods, filters, agriculture, construction and geotexitles. Lee describes this market as stable, but not growing.
Turning to Toray’s corporate news, in August, parent company Toray Industries, along with Freudenberg, announced it would acquire all shares of Japan Vilene, Japan’s largest nonwovens manufacturer. Under the terms of the agreement, Toray will reportedly hold 25% of the company’s shares while Freudenberg will retain the largest share, 75%. Fruedenberg is currently Japan Vilene’s largest shareholder, holding 33.4% of shares, while Toray has a 17.49% stake.
Once the acquisition is final, Freudenberg and Toray will enter into a shareholders’ agreement, which will require Freudenberg to obtain Toray’s prior consent when making decisions on certain material matters of the company. Additionally, transfer of the shares of Japan Vilene requires consent of the other party, and each party has the preemptive right in proportion to its shareholding ratio when the company issues new shares.