WILMINGTON, Del. -- E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. said Monday that it plans to stop manufacturing Orlon acrylic fiber, a move that will affect employees at facilities in Virginia and South Carolina.
Citing increased foreign competition and lessening consumer demand, the company said that it plans to phase out the fiber as soon as possible but that it will work with customers to find alternate sources of Orlon.
Du Pont introduced Orlon, which has been manufactured at two facilities in Waynesboro, Va., and Camden, S.C., in 1950.
'It's been an important business,' said Paul Gillease, director of textiles for Du Pont. 'We don't feel good about what's happening.'
A company spokeswoman said the two facilities' 755 employees were notified of the move Monday morning.
J.J. Pryor said, however, that the company does not know how many people may lose their jobs in the decision to discontinue Orlon. Pryor said Du Pont plans to try and find as many employees as possible jobs elsewhere in the company.
The Virginia plant also makes Lycra, while the South Carolina plant manufactures Dacron and nylon.
Gillease said the company's decision was based on a number of factors,including increased foreign competition and consumer preference for polyester and cotton.
'The fiber had been under attack, primarily from foreign competition,' Gillease said. 'We feel strongly that focusing resources on Lycra spandex fiber, nylon and Dacron polyester fiber, all of which present significant growth opportunities, will be more beneficial to the long-term interests of Du Pont.'
Orlon comprised approximately 10 percent, or $200 million annually, of Du Pont's textile fiber business. Gillease said that Du Pont will turn over its customers to two other U.S. manufacturers of the acrylic fiber, Monsanto Co. and American Cyamanid Co.