WELLMAN EXTENDING POLYESTER CURTAILMENT
Byline: S. Gray Maycumber
SHREWSBURY, N.J. — Citing weak apparel and textile fiber demand, Wellman Inc. said Tuesday the curtailment of a polyester staple fiber production line at its Darlington, S.C., plant would be extended into the first quarter of 1996.
The affected output represents about 15 percent of the 500 million pound annual polyester fiber production capacity at the plant — about 75 million pounds — and about 7 percent of Wellman’s total worldwide fiber production. Wellman makes about 1 billion pounds of polyester a year.
A Wellman spokeswoman said the output was first curtailed in mid-November for routine maintenance, but business conditions necessitated the extension.
Demand in Wellman’s other major polyester fiber end markets — fiberfill, furniture and carpet — remains stable, the company said.
The extended Wellman cutback reflects a fairly general industry condition, sources say. They noted that polyester shipments from U.S. producers have felt the impact of not only a weak U.S. market but also a very bad export market, particularly in Asia.
A DuPont spokesman said Tuesday that it has been cutting output of staple. “DuPont has been curtailing production of polyester staple since midyear to reflect the softening of the market,” the spokesman said. He would not detail specific data on the size of the curtailments.
Several gray goods mill executives, who didn’t want to be identified, said there was an oversupply of polyester staple and “price deals are being made.” The mill executives see the announcement by Wellman and other curtailment of textile polyester as moves to eliminate inventories of textile polyester staple and prevent the necessity of price reduction. One executive said, “It’s their attempt to stave off further price cuts in fiber.”