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OMNOVA plans to grow 10%
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United States chemicals maker OMNOVA Solutions Inc said yesterday it expected China sales to grow at least 10 percent per year, but warned the US slowdown was having a negative impact on its local operations.

The company, which makes decorative products and performance chemicals, aimed to grow its China business by 10 to 11 percent a year, doubling the local market average in its sector, said John S. Wei, vice president of OMNOVA Solutions China.

Wei declined to give China's breakdown of OMNOVA's global sales of around US$840 million. The New York Stock Exchange-listed company employs 635 people in China, nearly a quarter of its total workforce.

OMNOVA, which supplies emulsion polymers, specialty chemicals, decorative and functional surfaces for a variety of sectors from marine and transportation upholstery to shoe and textile manufacturing, said the slowdown of the US economy was biting as part of its China business was export related.

"But our investment in China is long term. Five years out is when China will certainly be dominant in the world economy," Wei said at a scholarship grant event at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, attended by OMNOVA Chairman and CEO Kevin McMullen.

To improve the situation, OMNOVA would invest in upgrading its two plants for decorative products in China, putting more advanced technology into products and providing more performance-driven products for the marketplace, Wei said. "We want to change the product mix from commodity to more high value added," he said.

(Shanghai Daily September 25, 2008)

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