CURVER BV BUYS 4 NEW PRESSES

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As part of a restructuring program, Curver BV is investing in four new, two-component, multicavity injection presses for its housewares plant at Brunssum, the Netherlands.

The machines, with clamping forces of 150-400 tons, will mold a polypropylene and thermoplastic elastomer food storage box — one of more than 70 new products Curver is introducing, according to Jörg Jacob, vice president for product range management. The equipment will be installed by April.

Meanwhile, Curver of Heerlen, the Netherlands, said it soon will announce the fate of its big molding plant at Amiens, France, which was earmarked for closure this year. Curver is a unit of DSM NV of Sittard, Netherlands.

Curver officials are talking with several would-be buyers, chiefly French firms, and it should announce a final decision on the plant's future by the end of March, said John van den Buijs, another Curver vice president.

The firm decided to close the 30-press Amiens plant because it offered poorer prospects than other operations in the Netherlands, Spain, Hungary and the United Kingdom.

Van den Buijs said Curver is trying to save the 70 remaining plant jobs while ensuring that it does not hand over the unit to a direct competitor. Any sale agreement could involve a diversification in product lines at the French unit, he said.

Since 1995, the Dutch molder has invested about 30 million guilders per year ($15.8 million) on new and upgraded products.

Products to be introduced this year include a sewing box, additional toolboxes, and redesigned refuse bins and laundry baskets.

In its outdoor products division, Curver is unveiling a line of more sophisticated PP garden tables and chairs, Jacob said. The furniture will be made of not only plastic but also steel, wood or aluminum components.

In addition, it is introducing a range of blow molded outdoor play equipment, which will include playhouses, castles and shops.