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NEW YORK — In a bid to broaden its market presence, South Korean fiber maker Hyosung Corp. plans to begin selling polyester and nylon next year in the U.S., in addition to spandex.

This story first appeared in the September 17, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The company manufactures all three fiber varieties in South Korea.

“The success we had in spandex just led itself to start with nylon and polyester. In some markets, we’ve been encouraged to bring it in,” said James “Rusty” Ford, vice president of the company’s U.S. operations, which are headquartered in Charlotte, N.C. “We know we can’t be everything to everybody, but we’re going to try to have everything in our sales bag to compete.”

The company, which sells spandex under the Creora brand, plans to begin selling its Mipan brand of type 6 nylon and Toplon polyester to U.S. mills.

The three-fibers approach will put Hyosung, which recorded 2001 sales of $4.65 billion, in direct competition with Wilmington, Del.-based fiber giant DuPont Textiles & Interiors, which for years has sold all three fibers.

Ford said Hyosung, which last year began its push into the U.S. spandex market, has been rapidly growing its share in that business. It estimated its worldwide spandex market share rose from 3.7 percent in 1999 to 12.2 percent last year.

Still, its market share in Asia — 19.4 percent — continues to dwarf its 5.7 percent share in the Americas. Ford said 43 percent of last year’s sales worldwide came from fibers, up from 37 percent in 2000. That would put the company’s 2001 fiber sales at the $2 billion mark, well behind its $6.5 billion rival DTI. Ford declined to reveal the firm’s U.S. revenues.

This year, Hyosung expects its total revenues to hit the $5 billion mark.

While the company’s U.S. arm, which also includes a spandex-warping facility in Rock Hill, S.C., has so far focused on selling fiber to U.S. fabric mills, Ford said his operation will broaden its mission next year.

“We have focused on the textile manufacturers at this point,” he said. “The next step for us is to deal with the garment manufacturers and retailers.”

That strategy, he said, is a reflection of the fact that while many U.S. brands produce the bulk of their apparel overseas, U.S. product-development managers are typically closely involved in the choice of what fibers and other materials will go into their garments.

“A lot of the marketing and merchandising will be done here in the U.S.,” he said.

Ford also said Hyosung is building its presence in China. It currently produces 9,000 metric tons a year of spandex at a plant in Jaixing, outside Shanghai, that it expects to take up to 15,000 metric tons of capacity. Its total current spandex capacity is 25,700 metric tons worldwide. The company is also considering opening additional polyester filament plants, to expand its capacity from its current 207,720 metric tons per year capacity.

“The conversation is about the possibility of setting up production elsewhere in Asia, probably China,” he said. All the company’s nylon and polyester capacity is currently in South Korea.

The company has also considered opening a manufacturing facility in the U.S., but that would be dependent on developing a large enough sales base. The upside to that venture, would be that the company could sell its yarns into fabrics intended to qualify for the benefits extended by the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act. It currently does not have CBTPA-compliant yarns.

“We are a global player,” Ford said. “We are looking to grow throughout all regions of the world.”

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