Located in Lacq in the department of Pyrenees-Atlantiques is Toray Carbon Fibers Europe (CFE ) S.A. As one of the largest Japanese investors in France, CFE is the only production unit of Toray’s Carbon Fiber business in Europe and a France-Japan success story.
Overseeing the expansion of the company for most of its three decades is the Japanese subsidiary’s Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer Jean-Marc Guilhempey.
“Over the years, we have expanded our investments in France six times and in 2014 we began production of polyacrylonitrile in our carbon fiber raw material (precursor) plant,” said Guilhempey. “With integrated production capabilities, this is the largest precursor facility in the world and that enables us to be more competitive and also supply various Toray Group production bases.”
CFE’s other facility produces and sells Torayca® carbon fiber-branded products, composites and prepregs used in various applications, including sport and leisure, industry and aerospace.
“In addition to our production capabilities, we have a research and development technical center,” said Guilhempey. “This allows us to support our customers by offering tailor-made, innovative solutions while guiding them through the manufacturing process.”
The company’s 5,200-ton capacity facility is meeting the demands of its customers in Europe, a region that has the highest demand for carbon fiber in the world, accounting for 44 percent of the global market.
The automotive and industrial sectors represent most of CFE’s sales in volume, while the aeronautic sector is being developed and sports and leisure remains stable.
“While we are experiencing an upward trend in the aeronautics industry anchored by our close relations with leading aircraft manufacturers, our strategy has been to strengthen our activities with our core customer base and to develop the energy, rail, civil engineering and space sectors,” said Guilhempey.
With France as the driver for growth, Guilhempey is committed to developing its markets and promoting Toray Carbon Fibers Europe as an integrated global carbon fiber leader. “We’ve strengthened our marketing efforts recently and our aim is to establish a more structured approach toward innovation and technical support for our customers in Europe,” he said.