NEW YORK — Makers of polyester and acrylic fibers, citing rising expenses, last week warned their customers they intend to raise prices by 7 to 14 percent.

DuPont, starting next month, plans to raise its prices for polyester filament by 10 to 15 percent, said Bill Ghitis, president of global apparel at the Wilmington, Del.-based company’s DuPont Textiles & Interiors division. The company is also considering a hike in nylon prices, he said.

Ghitis said the reason for the price hikes is simple: "Raw materials prices are increasing very steeply."

Wellman Inc. on Friday said it would rise its polyester staple prices by 12 to 14 percent, effective with March 2 deliveries. The Shrewsbury, N.J.-based company cited rising prices for key raw materials paraxylene and ethylene glycol as making a price increase necessary.

That news followed a disclosure by Charlotte, N.C.-based KoSa that it was hiking prices of fine-denier polyester staple 10 to 12 percent, starting Feb. 3. Also Friday, Solutia Inc., of New York, said it would raise its prices for acrylic by 7 to 8 percent, starting with March 1 deliveries.

"The dramatic short-term increase in key raw materials — some oil driven, such as propylene, some demand driven, such as natural gas — is forcing Solutia to increase our selling prices," Brad Hill, vice president of sales and marketing, said in a statement. "Our fiber price change is not going to cover all the forecasted higher raw material and energy increases, so we continue to lower our cost in our plants and organizations."

Synthetic-fiber makers’ margins are particularly imperiled by the threat of war with Iraq. If a Mideastern conflict drives oil prices up further, those companies are likely to see a sharp spike in their costs.

The fiber companies’ pricing practices caught the eye of the Federal government last fall, when the Department of Justice uncovered evidence that some fiber makers had illegally conspired to fix prices.

As reported, in September a federal grand jury in Charlotte indicted a former official of Nan Ya Plastics Corp. for conspiring to fix prices and allocated customers. In November, KoSa and one of its executives pled guilty to conspiring to fix prices. The executive agreed to an eight-month prison sentence.

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