Polyester Prices Soar

Changes Take Effect Immediately

Carole Sloan, September 19, 2005

New York — As polyester fiber producers raised prices on both staple and filament products in a range of 7 to 16 cents per pound, decorative fabrics producers are responding with a “polyester surcharge” on existing products.

For the American fabric community the increases came with an unusual twist — increases that were effective essentially immediately. The increases were announced early and mid-week of Sept. 5, effective the next day. Many American executives were either en route to or in Brussels for Decosit when the news broke.

Initial reaction from the American executives was that the suppliers could not absorb this latest increase in their overall cost structure. A number of executives noted that their firms typically made price adjustments only on an annual basis, but this increase would force immediate action.

For Valdese, there is an immediate 15 cents a yard “polyester surcharge,” effective immediately. The increases are across the board, and will be in effect until the polyester fiber prices are rolled back, said Mike Shelton, president.

“It’s the last thing this world needs,” said Larry Liebenow, president of Quaker. “I can’t believe the demand in all fibers in the U.S. can justify support for these increases. No one has margin left to absorb this.”

Liebenow, like several other fabric executives, planned to analyze the situation last week on their return home from Decosit.

Craftex is looking to make product-specific increases, which will be effective almost immediately said Jack Eger, vice president, who added that “We can’t ignore this one. It’s industry wide and everyone will have to participate.”

For John Sullivan, president of American Silk, “this is not just a little bit of an increase — like we’ve been absorbing small surcharges all year.” He added, “We’d be crazy not to raise prices even though we typically price our goods for the year in January. This time they gave no lead time. “

Noting that “silk suppliers also are pushing for price increases,” Roger Berkley, president of Weave remarked that “polyester producers are getting an increase of 15 to 18 cents per pound. We’re looking at a five cents a yard polyester surcharge, effective now.”

Among those still analyzing their responses to the increases are Rocco Simone, vice president, Sunbury, and Irwin Gasner, president of Wearbestg Sil-Tex, and Robert Lachow, director of sales at J.B. Martin, all of whom typically set prices at the beginning of each year.

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