TORONTO — Euro United Corp. plans aggressive expansion in plastic furniture just five years after it began production.
The Oakville, Ontario, private firm agreed to buy Rubbermaid Inc.'s European furniture business, which has sales of about US$50 million a year. Separately, it also is considering setting up a new plant in California.
Euro United plans to acquire Curver Outdoor Products from Rubbermaid for undisclosed terms, Rubbermaid announced July 28. Rubbermaid acquired the business when it bought Curver Group from DSM NV early this year.
Curver Outdoor is based in Goirle, Netherlands, and operates a distribution facility in Alleur, Belgium. It has no manufacturing plant and outsources all its injection molded chairs, tables and related products.
Rubbermaid decided to sell the furniture business for the same reasons it exited outdoor furniture in 1994. It views the business's seasonality as a drawback, according to Rubbermaid spokeswoman Lorrie Paul Crum. Rubbermaid sold its outdoor furniture business based in Stanley, N.C., to Sunbeam Corp. U.S. Industries Inc. then acquired it in early 1997 and then sold it to U.S. Leisure of Alexandria, Ind., last summer.
Rubbermaid expects to finalize the sale by Aug. 7. Curver Outdoor employs 92.
Crum said Rubbermaid will focus on fast-growing markets in Europe, including juvenile products. She said Europe's markets for infant car seats ``are just starting to take off.'' Unlike in North America, relatively few Europeans own infant car seats but governments are advising consumers to use them.
Euro United President Sam Rehani was unavailable to comment on the deal with Rubbermaid.
Euro United also is talking with local officials in Sacramento, Calif., to negotiate space at McClellan Air Force Base, which is slated to shut down in July 2001. The company is several weeks away from a final decision, according to John Kowal, Euro United's vice president of corporate projects.
Kowal said in a telephone interview that Euro United's sales exceed US$100 million a year. It has two plants in Oakville, one for injection molded furniture and the other for blow molding of furniture accessories. Last year it opened a furniture plant in Buffalo, N.Y., and it recently acquired a molding operation in Drew, Miss. Most of the firm's production is proprietary, Kowal said.
Sacramento County officials said Euro United might employ more than 2,000 at the McClellan base. One official complained that the county agreed to stop negotiating with other companies while it talks with Euro United, and that Euro United has been reluctant to discuss how it would finance a new plant at the military base.