LONDON — Second-quarter profit at Courtaulds plc was held back by the cost of shutting down a plastic tube plant in Muscatine, Iowa, and starting production at a replacement plant in Woodstock, Ill. The Thatcher Tubes plant in Muscatine closed Nov. 22. The plant, which opened in the 1940s and made plastic tubes for toothpaste and cosmetics, was slated for closing after the unionized work force rejected Courtaulds' plan last year for ``flexible operation,'' according to a company spokeswoman in London.
The new work force in Woodstock proved enthusiastic but inexperienced in
packaging production, she said.
Output and quality at the Woodstock facility did not meet Courtaulds' standards, so the company had to maintain production at the Muscatine plant for 18 months.
The Muscatine plant employed 70 when it closed, down from about 300 when the shutdown was announced a year ago.
The spokeswoman confirmed in a telephone interview that the Woodstock plant, which employs 200, began full operation last month.
She said Courtaulds had underestimated the time required to set it up.
In its quarterly financial report, Courtaulds said: ``This process is now complete and the double running costs will not be present in the second half.''
Courtaulds is focusing its packaging business on multinational clients as they expand into the developing world.
Courtaulds either has started or plans to build packaging operations in Indonesia, China and India.
The company is investing $11.7 million to build a 150 million tube-per-year plant in Goa, India.
Plastics-based businesses, including packaging and high-performance film, have provided a valuable boost to Courtaulds' six-month results.
Sales for the company's polymer products division, which includes tube, closures and solar industrial film output in the United States, increased by more than 3 percent to 123 million ($205 million), compared with the six months ended Sept. 30, 1995.
Profit for the division was up 20 percent in an area described by Chief Executive Officer Gordon Campbell as a ``growth driver for Courtaulds.''
This was despite the strategic disposal of the group's United Kingdom luxury vinyl flooring business to unit managers and oriented polypropylene film units in France and Britain to a Hoechst AG joint venture last December.
Courtaulds stated that sales and profit for performance films moved ahead strongly with results in the Far East particularly encouraging.
A new film facility at Runcorn, England, which was designed to boost capacity, is now fully operational.