Byline: Scott Malone

NEW YORK — Riding the continuing wave of rising raw-materials prices, yarn spinner Glen Raven Marketing Corp. said Monday it plans to increase its spun acrylic yarn prices by 7 to 10 percent, effective with January shipments.
The company said the increase comes as a result of announced October and January price increases by acrylic fiber makers. As reported, Solutia Inc. said last week it would hike its prices 3 to 12 percent, effective with 2000 shipments.
Dave Lyttle, vice president of sales at Glen Raven, said the company hasn’t increased its yarn charges since the mid-Nineties. He acknowledged that getting the increase through would not be easy.
“It’s going to be a real struggle, unfortunately,” he said. “It’s a problem of squeezing the middle, but you’ve got raw materials going up and you continue to have price pressure from the buying side. Something has got to give. We just thought it was time to let the market know that the cost pressures are getting to be more than we could absorb.”
Prices on most synthetic fibers — including polyester, nylon, acrylic and acetate — have been on the rise this year. And fiber makers say that the continuing increase in their costs likely means that hikes will continue.
In a press briefing here last week, the head of nylon maker BASF Corp. said that economics will likely push fiber prices higher, bucking the overall trend of the chemicals industry.
“Fibers is an area where in the first half of the year, prices were declining. But we’re seeing that trend reverse and it’s picking up very fast. Faster than we expected,” said Peter Oakley, chairman and chief executive officer of the Mount Olive, N.J.-based company.
After the significant fall in prices that resulted from the Asian currency crisis, he continued, “It is our hope that the industry manages to get prices up to a level where we start to move to reinvestment economics.”
This comes at a time when, for the chemical industry, “the overall climate for prices is decreases,” according to Oakley. “This is an industry that is continually taking costs out, that is constantly finding economies of scale.”
As evidence of those economies, Oakley said that over the past decade, BASF has cut its total head count from 21,000 to 15,000, at the same time doubling its sales per employee to $500,000.
He also said that growth in the company’s nylon textile fiber business “is not at the levels it once was” for North America. In recent years, that business has grown at 2 to 3 percent per year, he noted, adding that nylon resins has been a much faster-growing venture.

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