Guangzhou, China — Intent on serving China, the world's No. 1 market for plastics additives, Swiss-based specialty chemicals company Clariant International Ltd. will bring online two new production facilities at its Zhenjiang, China, plant next year, the company announced at Chinaplas.
"It's of enormous consequence that we build and invest here," Stephan Lynen, head of the additives business unit, said of the multimillion-dollar investments. "I am confident to announce more [Chinese production] in the future, also for additives, but for now it's the two production facilities."
The facilities will produce plastics additives and micronized wax coatings for coatings and inks.
The new Zhenjiang facilities will shorten supply chains and enable the additives unit to customize and innovate for fast-growing Chinese industries, Lynen said.
"Being closer to our customers enables us to better cooperate and tailor our solutions to their needs as well as gain valuable market insights," said Clariant executive committee member Christian Kohlpaintner in a news release.
In a news conference at Clariant's bustling Chinaplas booth, Lynen zeroed in on two booming markets in China: plastics for lightweighting cars and agricultural films for greenhouses, mulching and UV protection. Other hot markets are electronics and packaging.
"It's a big step because it's more high-end chemistry," Lynen said. "We invest here in China because here is where the market is, here is where the growth is, here is where innovation is."
At last year's Chinaplas, the company announced an aggressive plan to target the Asia-Pacific region, including posting Kohlpaintner, a member of the company's four-member executive committee, to Shanghai. The company is on track to open its futuristic Asia-Pacific headquarters and R&D center in Shanghai region next year.
Clariant's global sales in the first quarter of this year rose 9 percent in local currency to 1.602 billion Swiss francs ($1.633 billion), led by 11 percent growth in the Asia-Pacific region, including an 18 percent spurt in China sales. Sales of the plastics & coatings division were up 6 percent to 673 million Swiss francs ($686 million).
As of Dec. 31, Clariant had a global workforce of 17,442. Sales for 2016 were 5.847 billion Swiss francs ($5.963 billion), up 2 percent in local currency. The company's headquarters is in Muttenz, near Basel.
The additives unit's offerings include halogen-free flame retardants, stabilizers, UV protectors, antioxidants and antistatics.