By  on October 28, 2005

NEW YORK — Hyosung Corp., a $5.5 billion conglomerate based in Seoul, South Korea, wants to knock off Invista and become the number-one producer of spandex in the world with its Creora brand.

Industry experts, however, said that is a daunting challenge considering that the $8.4 billion Invista, the most recognized producer of global spandex with its Lycra brand, has held the top spot for decades.

Despite a mature marketplace, officials at 38-year-old Hyosung believe Creora can be spun into a globally recognized brand in the next several years. The company operates seven divisions — textiles, chemicals, trading, industrial materials, construction materials, power materials, and an information and communications operation.

The newest applications, such as spandex that retains its elasticity during a burnout treatment process, can be printed on, adapted for use in molding bra cups and may be incorporated in a variety of apparel categories. They include intimate apparel, sleepwear, loungewear, robes and ready-to-wear. Introduction of the specialty burnout spandex velvet received strong reaction when it was showcased in September at the Lyon, Mode City trade show in Lyon, France, said Ria Stern, director of North American marketing and global brand for Creora.

Hyosung entered the nylon business in 1966, started its polyester business in 1973 and began producing spandex in 1992. Annual production capacity is 54,000 tons, making Hyosung the second-largest spandex resource in the world with overall textile revenues of about $1 billion a year. Production is in four state-of-the-art facilities: two plants in China, in Jiaxing and in Zhuhai, and two in South Korea, in Anyang and Kumi.

Greg Van Nunes, Creora's president of the Americas and Europe, said the company was looking for manufacturing facilities in Europe and would evaluate sites in the U.S., Mexico and Brazil.

"We plan to add people, and there probably will be no joint venture,'' he said. "We plan to build from the ground up because if we build assets, we can be cost competitive and you need not modernize technology. We are very lean and our vision is clear."

Hyosung has 6,175 employees, 19 branches and 19 subsidiaries worldwide, and plans to open five fabric marketing showrooms in the next month in Hong Kong, Seoul, Milan, New York and Shanghai, at the Shanghai Mart.

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