STABILIMENTO DI RIETI
chemical fiber factory / Rieti / 1925 - 2006 / 2011 / SNIA VISCOSA Varedo
During the 1920s several new factories were established in Italy for the production of viscose rayon, a chemical fibre made out of regenerated cellulose – also known as "artificial silk". Although most of these factories were located in northern Italy, a few ones were set up even in the centre-south. The Rieti viscose plant was one of them. The construction (1925-28), directed by engineer and designer Arturo Hoerner, was promoted by Società Generale Italiana della Viscosa through a subsidiary called Supertessile. Just one year from the opening, the factory already employed 2375 people amongst laborers, office personnel and directors. In 1934, in advance compared to the other Italian factories, the Rieti plant begun the production of viscose staple. Starting from 1937, a constant supply of sulfuric acid was ensured by a nearby production facility established by Montecatini. In 1939 Supertessile was merged into the parent company Società Generale Italiana della Viscosa, giving birth to CISA Viscosa – which controlled factories in Rome, Padua and Naples besides Rieti. Within this operation, a significant share of CISA Viscosa was acquired by SNIA Viscosa, at the time the largest viscose producer in Italy and a major worldwide.
In wartime, between November 1943 and July 1946, the Rieti factory remained inactive. The acquisition of CISA Viscosa by SNIA was completed in 1947: as result, the inherited factories of Rieti and Naples were refurbished and improved. After two decades of constant growth, the Rieti plant reached the 1970s as a major viscose-only manufacturing site within SNIA's factories, having an overall capacity of 22400 t/y – 4400 t of viscose yarn and 18000 t of viscose staple. However, during the same decade a deep crisis affected the chemical fibers sector, and especially the production of viscose and other cellulose-derived fibers. In the second half of the 1970s SNIA suspended the production at several factories. Differently, for the Rieti plant a full renovation was prospected. The factory was kept at minimal regime starting from 1978, with just 300 people regularly employed. But the worsening of the crisis led the company to cease the production completely in 1979, causing severe protests amongst labour unions and citizens.
After years of negotiations, the factory was reopened in 1986 by Nuova Rayon Italia, a subsidiary of SNIA created with the support of GEPI state restructuring fund. In the meantime, the plant was downsized but almost completely refurbished to improve both process and quality of final products. Amongst other things, this was made possible by the implementation on a vast scale of the SNIA-patent FCT3000 technology. This was based on an automatic continuous spinning machine able to encompass all the manufacturing steps previously done separately. After renovation, the Rieti plant was a highly specialized site with a capacity of 6000 t/y of textile viscose yarn. In early 2000s, however, the chemical fibers sector began to be considered by SNIA as a non-strategic business. A sequence of heavy losses led the company to disengage from such an activity. In this scenario, Nuova Rayon Italia and thus the Rieti plant were sold in 2003 to GZ financial holding. The latter intended to create an Italian cellulose-derived fibers manufacturing company by integrating the last three existing factories: Bemberg (cuprammonium) at Gozzano, SNIA/Nuova Rayon (viscose) at Rieti and SNIA/Novaceta (acetate) at Magenta. Bemberg Cell, as the company was named, went bankruptcy in 2006 after having accumulated debts for more than 100 millions of Euros. The Rieti plant was the first to be closed, on September 7th of the same year.
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