Webgrove Holdings Ltd. has rescued Showpla (UK) Ltd., a formerly Japanese-owned injection molder, and its 150-strong work force from receivership.
Webgrove, based in Stratford-on-Avon, England, is a partnership that already runs two English plastics molding firms and a toolmaking company. The firm plans to expand Showpla and seek more plastics acquisitions.
Showpla (UK) of Cheslyn Hay, England, runs a 71,000-square-foot custom molding plant with 19 presses, mainly Mitsubishi, with clamping forces of 80-1,600 tons. The company makes television housings and parts for the electronics, telecommunications and automotive sectors.
The firm was part of Showa Plastics of Habikino, Japan, which filed for protection from creditors Aug. 14. The parent company blamed cash-flow problems due to its rapid global expansion and Asia's economic crisis.
On Aug. 26, Showpla (UK) called in receivers Ernst & Young after two Japanese-owned customers pulled their molds from the British plant.
Showpla (UK) reported sales of £8 million ($13.4 million) for the fiscal year ended June 30, according to Ernst & Young's office in Birmingham, England. The molder expects sales to rise to about £10 million ($16.8 million) this year.
Webgrove was formed three years ago by Paul Webb, its chief executive officer, and Midlands industrialist David Grove. They started by buying automotive parts injection molder Link Plastics Ltd. of Telford, England. Since then, Webgrove had taken over custom injection molder Silkjet Ltd. and mold maker Digitool Ltd., both of Leicester, England.
Link has 52 injection presses, with clamping forces of 25-800 tons, including eight newer machines from Toshiba installed in the past two years, Webb said. About half the company's production is devoted to under-the-hood auto components, with the rest including parts for products including power tools.
Silkjet operates 20 injection presses, also with clamping forces of 25-800 tons. The firm makes point-of-purchase products. Digitool makes molds for the Webgrove molders and for third parties, Webb said.
``This acquisition is just what we were looking for,'' he said. ``It is an excellent business with a good management team, a reputation for quality and service to a blue-chip customer base, and a substantial order book.''
Webb will serve as Showpla's chairman.
``We plan to develop the business,'' he added. ``The acquisition fits well with our other plastics businesses in terms of increasing our capability and capacity and new-customer opportunities. This will enable us to grow the business and take on more employees.''
Not included in the deal is a new injection molding plant in the Czech Republic. Showpla (UK) was providing technical and marketing support for that plant, but Webb said the unit was a Showa Plastics project.