Ongoing downturns in the global polyester market have led DuPont to eliminate 1,400 jobs from its polyester films, resins and fibers businesses.
Of the cuts, 800 will come from within DuPont and 600 will be contractor positions. The total represents about 14 percent of DuPont's polyester work force.
``This is a difficult time for everyone involved, but it reflects the incredibly intense competition facing all segments of the polyester industry today,'' George MacCormack, DuPont polyester group vice president, said in a June 7 telephone interview.
The fibers unit will account for about 800 of the cuts, with films and resins absorbing 300 cuts each. About 80 percent of the cuts will come from North America. The company expects to save $90 million annually beginning in the fourth quarter of this year.
The polyester unit generated $2.8 billion in sales for Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont in 1998. Fibers contributed about 40 percent of this total and films and resins about 30 percent each.
DuPont's films unit ranked as North America's largest film and sheet manufacturer with $1.6 billion in annual sales, according to Plastics News' 1998 survey.
In PET resin, DuPont ranks fifth in North America with a market share of more than 7 percent. DuPont also produces polybutylene terephthalate and copolyester thermoplastic elastomer.
The films unit has been working to streamline production and reduce the number of lines it operates, according to Francine Cheeseman Shaw, films vice president and general manager. Shaw said the unit began streamlining after its 1997 acquisition of ICI plc's films business. Older, less productive film lines in Circleville, Ohio, and Dumfries, Scotland, already have been shut down.
Shaw also said capacity would not be affected by the job cuts.
The 300 films job cuts will be split among sites in Circleville; Dumfries; Arden, N.C.; Florence, S.C.; Richmond, Va.; Hopewell, Va.; Contern, Luxembourg; and Wilton, England.
PET resin profitability has been hampered by industry overcapacity and the increased presence of less-expensive material imported from Asia, said Craig Binetti, resins and intermediates vice president and general manager.
Binetti said PET prices on average are down 25 percent from where they were at the start of 1997. The resins unit already has eliminated some batch production at Cedar Creek, N.C.
Increased competition among North American PET makers has prevented the industry from attaining price increases in 1999, even during the spring season when inventories build in anticipation of high summer sales for carbonated beverages. Most major producers currently are seeking increases ranging from 5-6 cents effective June 1.
The 300 resin job cuts will be split among sites in Cedar Creek; Old Hickory, Tenn.; Kuan Yin, Taiwan; and Wilton.