LONDON — Body Shop International plc will close its in-house plastic bottle and closure molding operation in Britain and outsource the packaging to custom blow molder Plysu plc.
Body Shop, a global manufacturer and retailer of skin and hair-care products, is selling its 20 blow and injection molding machines to Plysu, which won a contract to supply Body Shop with 100 million plastic bottles and caps a year, according to Plysu.
Plysu, based in Milton Keynes, England, will blow Body Shop's high density polyethylene bottles, which are as large as a half-liter. It also will develop a range of new PET bottles and associated closures for the firm.
Plysu is investing about £1.5 million ($2.46 million) to buy as many as four new Aoki blow molding machines to produce PET bottles for its new client.
Blow molding equipment from Body Shop's plant at Littlehampton, England, will be transferred to Plysu's expanding personal-care and toiletries container plant at AMK Plastics Ltd., at Llantrisant, South Wales.
Body Shop now molds virtually all its bottle and cap requirements at its Littlehampton headquarters unit, which employs 30, and runs Bekum and Rainville machines.
Body Shop products also are bottled in North America and Australia, and in the latter, the packaging is outsourced, according to a spokesman.
The spokesman said Body Shop is seeking ``practicability and flexibility'' for bottle production, and that outsourcing allows it to move into new materials, such as PET. Body Shop, which cultivates an environmentally friendly image with consumers, chose Plysu because of its environmental and technical record, he said.
Plysu has been involved in plastic waste recycling for four years and operates a joint venture recycling plant with Milton Keynes local authorities, said Stephen Nobbs, finance director.
Nobbs said Body Shop likes Plysu's proactive stance on recycling and environmental matters. The molder has introduced its own standard ranges of PET bottles for personal-care products and new PET containers with 25 percent post-consumer material.
Plysu expects to have Body Shop's machinery installed in Wales by April. It will produce screw-on and flip-top caps for Body Shop at its Kempston, England, closure plant.
Closures also will be molded at Menshen Packaging UK Ltd., Plysu's joint venture with personal-care packaging closure specialist Menshen GmbH of Finnentrop, Germany, Nobbs said.
Plysu has been expanding the AMK Plastics plant since acquiring the unit in November 1995, to increase its share of the personal-care market. This winter, the firm will invest nearly $4.1 million in improving AMK production with the installation of two new Hester and one Aoki blow molding machines, Nobbs said.
The firm also recently acquired a bottle molding operation in Spain with its purchase of Iplast SA of Jaen for about £4.25 million ($6.92 million). Plysu expects to invest £1 million ($1.63 million) in the custom blow molder, which makes HDPE and PET bottles, chiefly for the olive oil market.
Plysu, which already operates container molding plants in the United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands, is pursuing foreign expansion in liquid food packaging.