British packaging blow molder Plysu plc is expanding its gardening products range with its acquisition of Ward Products plc, an old, established English gardenware injection and rotational molder.
Ward Products, based in Darlaston, England, dates back to the last century, originally producing clay garden pots. It now makes a popular brand of molded plastic plant pots, planters, propagators and watering cans, some of which are exported as far as Japan, according to Plysu.
Plysu expects to pay almost £1 million ($1.62 million) in cash, depending on Ward's stock valuation.
Ward has about 20 injection presses, mostly Windsor machines not less than 15 years old, with 200-1,000 tons of clamping force. Ward also operates three rotational molding machines. Most of its products are made from polypropylene or high density polyethylene.
Ward broke even in 1996, reporting sales of £4.6 million ($7.46 million).
Plysu chose to buy the company for its strong brand identity and to broaden the Plysu product range beyond largely blow molded items, said Plysu finance director Stephen Nobbs. His firm plans to market some of its products under the Ward label to independent retailers, he said.
Ward's operation will require some new investment: The new owner expects to run only two of Ward's existing injection presses and will spend as much as £1 million ($1.62 million) on two new machines, retooling and molds later this year, Nobbs said in a telephone interview.
Plysu, based in Woburn Sands, England, began its history producing high-frequency-welded PVC raincoats in 1945. The firm already injects and blow molds a range of gardenware such as water butts, storage boxes, composters and watering cans at its Kempston, England, housewares division plant.
It has nine blow moldng machines, mostly Krupp Kautex units, and 38 injection molding presses including KlÃ¶ckner, Sandretto and Demag machines.
Garden products represent around half of its divisional sales or around £4 million ($6.48 million).
As much as 20 percent of the 17.6 million pounds per year of raw material Plysu uses comes from a joint venture plastics recycling plant it runs with Milton Keynes Borough Council in Buckingham, England.
Nobbs said the company expects to increase its proportion of post-consumer raw material to 40-50 percent, as the total raw material requirement rises to roughly 22 million pounds per year. He noted that Plysu has benefited from an environmental bonus in marketing its products as a result of this use.