Kerr Group Inc. is jettisoning its consumer products units to concentrate on its plastics business. The Los Angeles-based company announced last week that it will sell its metal and glass home canning businesses to Alltrista Corp. of Muncie, Ind., for $14.5 million.
Roger W. Norian, Kerr's chairman, president and chief executive officer, will step down, and the company will move its corporate headquarters to Lancaster, Pa., where its remaining specialty plastics operations are based.
D. Gordon Strickland, Kerr's senior vice president, chief financial officer, and general manager of the consumer products business, will be promoted to president, chief executive officer and a director of the publicly held firm. Norian will remain as a director and significant stockholder.
The move leaves Kerr, once a powerful maker of metal and glass container crowns and home canning supplies, with only its plastics products business. That business makes tamper-evident, child-resistant and traditional closures; plastics bottles and containers; double-wall jars; and injection molded parts.
``Kerr has been hurt in the past by larger competitors in metal, glass and in the prescription drug areas,'' said Tim Burns, president of Cranial Capital Inc., a Cleveland packaging industry research and advisory firm. ``Alltrista is the perfect match for the consumer products portion, and Kerr, once this restructuring occurs, will be in a strong position with its remaining products.''
Burns said the company had struggled since it divested its glass and metal crown businesses in the early 1990s to find ways to add value to its stock and products.
``It has had spotty performance since then, and still carries some of the health and pension burdens of the old glass and metal employees,'' Burns said.
Kerr's plastics products business had sales of $109.2 million in 1995, and the consumer products business netted $139 million in sales for the same period.
Kerr's plastics products business ranked 34th in Plastics News' 1995 survey of North American injection molders, with $96 million in annual sales
The business also placed 54th in the last blow molders ranking, with an estimated $24.3 million in sales.