Collaboration with German footwear group ara in Portugal / European production on the rebound / Gap to China closing
The polyurethanes division of US chemicals major Huntsman (The Woodlands, Texas; is teaming up with German fashion footwear manufacturer ara Shoes (Langenfeld; in a pre-production development project. With signs pointing to a return of footwear manufacturing across Europe, ara called on Huntsman to assist in the development of a series of polyurethane-based prototypes ahead of the German company’s plans to open a new production line based in Portugal.

According to Huntsman, its technical resources and ability to create a replica production environment were important for the shoe manufacturer’s goals of identifying and resolving any potential production issues straight away. The samples were created at Huntsman’s footwear development centre in Belgium. The polyurethanes division has its international headquarters and global research and technology facilities situation in Everberg, near Brussels.

“Though China remains the biggest shoe manufacturing country in the world – producing around 13 bn pairs annually – labour costs have increased dramatically in recent years. Chinese wage bills are now around four times higher than they were eight years ago. While costs have been creeping up in China, European suppliers to the footwear industry have adopted a more automated approach to manufacturing – narrowing the cost differential between the regions,” stated Alfons Tremml, a commercial manager for footwear at Huntsman Polyurethanes.

Huntsman Polyurethanes is one of the global leaders in MDI-based polyurethanes and serves more than 3,000 customers in 90 countries. MDI is manufactured at its Dutch site in Rozenburg near Rotterdam. Aniline and nitrobenzene – key ingredients in MDI production – are made at UK facilities in Wilton. The division also has production facilities in the US and China along with 19 downstream facilities worldwide.
12.06.2014 [228456-0]
Published on 12.06.2014

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