McKechnie plc, which already runs major automotive, medical and defense molding operations in the United States, plans to spend as much as $160 million on acquisitions.
McKechnie of Walsall, England, wants to add new businesses to two of its high-tech divisions — specialty products, which include aerospace fasteners; and engineered plastics, according to Andrew Walker, chief executive officer.
Regions favored for acquisitions include North America and Asia.
McKechnie reported that sales for the fiscal year ended July 31 increased 11.3 percent to £650.6 million ($1 billion). Pre-tax profit rose 10.5 percent to £55.6 million ($89.5 million), before an exceptional $6.44 million charge.
The charge resulted from a canceled plastics part contract in the United States early in the year. The contract involved ``very large components'' to be supplied to a new, unidentified customer in the transportation sector by the Easley, S.C., plant of subsidiary McKechnie Plastic Components, according to a company spokesman.
McKechnie dropped the deal for technical reasons, he said.
In 1995, McKechnie Plastic Components installed a 3,500-ton HPM injection press and a 25,000-square-foot Class A paint shop in Easley, which then had 76 presses with clamping forces of 35-3,500 tons.
The $3.5 million expansion project was to enable the plant to fulfill new, large contracts for automotive and transportation clients, MPC said at the time.
McKechnie's plastics division saw sales increase 16.3 percent last year, and profit rose 26.1 percent before the exceptional charge.
McKechnie reported that Australian plastics thermoformer Plexicor Ltd. of Victoria, acquired in May 1996, and wheel trim manufacturer Thompson Inc. of Detroit, both part of McKechnie Vehicle Components USA Inc., performed well.
In the United Kingdom, McKechnie reported that its materials-handling business, Paxton Ltd. of Walsall, won large contracts from three top supermarket chains for its Maxi-Nest polyurethane-based container system.