Yarn maker Celanese Acetate is phasing out acetate filament production at all of its plants by mid-2005 in a restructuring move that will lead to the loss of around 1,000 jobs worldwide.

The company, a unit of German chemical company Celanese AG, is to phase out production at two North American facilities, leading to cuts of about 10 per cent of its total workforce.

Celanese will exit the acetate filament business altogether, closing operations in Ocotlan, Mexico, and Narrows, Virginia that make this synthetic fibre used in clothing and home furnishing fabrics.

It will consolidate its other acetate operations - flake and tow manufacturing - at three plants in Virginia, Mexico, and Lanaken, Belgium. Acetate flake is the raw material in filament and tow, which is used to make filters for cigarettes and other products. 

Celanese said it will close its Rock Hill, SC, acetate flake operation in 2005. Its tow production unit in Edmonton, Alberta, will close in mid-2005, followed by flake production in late 2006 or early 2007.

Increased competition from non-acetate fibres, particularly polyester, is behind the decision Celanese said. Acetate fabrics such as rayon are derived from cotton or wood pulp cellulose, while other synthetics such as nylon and polyester are oil-based.

"We are implementing this strategic plan to become more efficient, reduce overcapacities in certain manufacturing areas, and focus on products and markets that provide long-term value," president Doug Madden said in a statement.

German industrial chemicals giant Celanese is a unit of US investment fund Blackstone.