Invista to weigh options for nylon business and Seaford plant

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Featured photo of Invista Seaford plant. Delaware Department of Transportation photo.
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Invista is exploring options for its nylon business, including its Seaford plant.

This includes the company’s fiber portfolio, including airbag and industrial fibers, the Codura businesses, and five manufacturing locations: Martinsville, VA; Kingston, Ontario, Canada; Gloucester, UK; Qingpu, China; and Seaford.

The sprawling Seaford plant now employs a tiny fraction of the 4,500 people who worked there at its peak in the 1970s. The landmark invention of nylon at DuPont’s Wilmington-area labs led to the plant’s construction.

DuPont sold the nylon business a couple of decades ago to Invista as part of a move toward producing fibers that were not derived from petrochemicals. DuPont was also facing growing overseas competition.

Declining employment at the site led to a long-term struggle for the western Sussex County economy as good-paying blue-collar jobs disappeared. Only in recent years have signs of a turnaround appeared.

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“Consistent with our Principle Based Management business philosophy, Invista continuously assesses the external value of assets to make sure they are owned by the company best positioned to grow the business,” said Francis Murphy, CEO. “Nylon fibers is a great business, and we believe there are other companies with different focus and capabilities that could create even greater value with those assets. If, however, through this process, we find that other companies don’t value it more highly, we’ll continue to operate the business.” 

“The nylon fiber assets are a major part of the current Invista footprint, and it would be premature to speculate on the final structure of a potential deal. Details of the business and exploration process are confidential. Invista has hired Barclays as advisor”, a release stated.

Invista, a part of Koch Industries, bought the business from DuPont and went through litigation with the Delaware company over environmental issues. The companies later settled.

The Seaford plant has long been rumored to be for sale. Several years ago, it was reported that the site employed 100. Koch was contacted regarding employment figures.

Invista earlier sold off Lycra, another fiber business acquired from DuPont. Lycra is based near Wilmington.

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