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Kurabo to expand Chinese automotive foam operation

By Patrick Raleigh UT On-line news editor

Osaka, Japan-Kurabo Industries Ltd is investing Yen750 million ($7 million) to increase the annual capacity of its automotive foam operation in Guangzhou, China, to 3000 tonnes by 2005. The plant, which is operated by subsidiary Guangzhou Kurabo Chemicals Co., supplies moulded urethane products for car seats and headrests.

Osaka-based Kurabo said it will build a 6500-m2 facility at the southern China site, which has a current capacity of 1200 tonnes. Employment at the unit will rise to 200, almost double its current level, while the firm forecast turnover to reach Yen4000 million by 2006, from Yen1000 million at present.

The new unit will principally serve Japanese automotive firms, who are increasingly moving into the Guangzhou region, explained a company statement. Kurabo lists Honda Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. among the main customers for its foam products.

Kurabo’s chemical products division established the Guangzhou foam facility in early 2002 as an 80:20 joint venture with minority partner Nagase & Co., also of Osaka.Originally a textiles firm, Kurabo has more recently diversified into polymers, including foams, as well as engineering, electronics and biotechnologies. Nagase’s plastics division supplies thermoplastic and thermosetting resins, synthetic rubbers, additives, plastics products, plastics-related equipment and dies.”

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