Interview with Mr. Hidefumi Takai

Face2Face
Mr. Hidefumi Takai
Mr. Hidefumi Takai
Director Executive Officer
ASAHI KASEI FIBERS
ASAHI KASEI FIBERS

Mr.Hidefumi Takai is a general manager of Fibers & Textiles division and executive officer at Asahi Kasei Fibers Corporation. He started his career at Asahi Kasei in 1972 and experienced in various positions and divisions such as HR & Labor Relations, Accounting & Finance and the sales of acrylic fibers and Asahi bemberg. In 2004, he took over the position of general manager of Fibers & Textiles division.

How did Asahi Kasei Corporation having consolidated sales worth US$10 billion begin its origins and diversify to its present state?

Asahi Kasei was established in 1922 and started Japan’s first commercial ammonia production. Utilizing the ammonia, Asahi Kasei started production of Asahi Bemberg™ by cuprammonium process in 1931. The first decades were a time of growth through expansion in the production of chemical fibers like Asahi Bemberg™ and industrial chemicals. Providing innovative solutions based on chemistry and materials science to a diverse range of markets, our company has been recognized as a Japanese leading chemical company. In October 2003, all core operations were transferred to seven wholly owned constituent corporations as autonomous operating business units. Asahi Kasei Corporation, as the parent company, functions as a holding company for the group operations. Asahi Kasei Fibers is the core operating company for all fibers and textiles operations of the Asahi Kasei group.

Fiber is integral Asahi’s marketing strategy. Please provide relevant information about them and explain how important they are for your company?

Fiber business is the first business of Asahi Kasei group and has highly contributed to the expansion through the production and sales of Asahi Bemberg™ etc. Asahi Kasei Fibers has developed and commercialized polyester filament, Leona™ nylon 66 filament, Roica™ elastic polyurethane filament, Eltas™ spunbond nonwoven and Lamous ™ artificial suede and established a position as a comprehensive producer of cellulose and synthetic fibers. In the mean time, the developed technologies based on fiber business have been utilized for various fields, for example hemodialyzers and blood filtration in medical field.

How favorably is Asahi Bemberg placed in the highly competitive global market?

Asahi Kasei Fibers is the operating company that is specialized in highly competitive and unique products as the result of the selectivity and focus on the core businesses by adapting them to market conditions. We have 3 core businesses, namely as Asahi Bemberg™ cupramonium cellulose fiber, Roica™ elastic polyurethane filament and distinguished nonwovens. We are going to look beyond its current scope with plans to expand overseas business. About Roica™, there are production plants and sales offices in Japan, Europe, US and Asia. Asahi Bemberg™, which has been highly recognized as the most luxury lining in the world since1931, plans to increase the market share in the global market. Asahi Bemberg™ is cellulose fiber born from cotton, which is environmentally friendly. There are such outstanding features as high moisture absorption and release, smoothness, color development and less statistics. They have been used in a wide range of applications from lining, outerwear, innerwear to sports wear. In India, we have been exporting the fabrics for sari and duppata since 1930’s. As Indian economy has been grown, our sales have expanded. We place special emphasis on Indian market as one of the most important markets in the world.

What are the prospects for future that Asahi Kasei Fibers aims for?

"Followings are three major directions for Asahi kasei Fibers. •Expansion of the existing business in the global field. •The development and introduction of new materials like Polyketone fibers in the industrial fields. •Building the optimum conditions of production and distribution channels to expand the global business. "

How has the company absorbed or diluted the effects of massive fluctuations taking place in the international crude prices?

The sharp rise in crude oil price has affected energy cost and raw material cost. In the aspect of energy cost, we have been diversifying supply sources and utilizing alternative energy. In the aspect of material cost, we try to absorb it by improving the productivity and manufacturing value-added products.

Environmental and social issues are core to your corporate philosophy. How are these issues tackled by your company so as to discharge its corporate obligations?

Asahi Kasei group has long recognized the importance of issues related to corporate social responsibility (CSR), and has adopted a range of measures guided by the Corporate Ethics Committee, the Responsible Care Committee, and other corporate organs. A CSR Council was formed with the president serving as the chair, to guide the effort to heighten our performance in this area for the sustainable expansion of corporate value. The CSR Council builds on and enhances the Asahi Kasei tradition of management with an emphasis on environmental and social aspects of operation.

Can you spell out certain innovations that the company has come out within recent times?

In chemical field, Asahi Kasei is expanding business through such activities as introduction of original process in making polycarbonate and the agreements to grant the process technology license for AN in the world. In fiber field we are trying to develop a new market by introducing Solotex™ polytrimethylene terephthalate fiber with unique performances in nylon and polyester and Fusion™ three-dimensional knitted fabrics expected for the applications for automotive upholstery and bedding, and Polyketone fibers with high strength and tenacity. Asahi Bemberg™, as the most luxury lining material, has always aimed at innovation to meet the customers demand.

Globally, Nonwovens industry seems to be coming up of age. What specific role do you envisage for Asahi in this, and what future trend do you look out in the field?

"In nonwoven fields, we have produced various kinds of nonwovens such as ELTAS™ spunbond used for diapers, home and industrial materials, Lamous™ -an artificial suede used for furniture and automotive upholsteries, Bemliese™ -the world’s only cupro cellulosic nonwoven used for wiping cloth in semiconductor factories, and Microweb™ -nonwoven which is made of super fine fiber, for medical filters. Our advantage in this field is that we have many variations of nonwovens manufactured in the unique processes by using PP, PET, NY and cellulosics as raw materials. Our products have been highly appreciated in the market by its diversified available items and high quality based on the sophisticated technology. "
Published on: 10/07/2006

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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