Food and medical packaging producer Dolphin Packaging plc is undertaking a major expansion and investment program this year at its molding plants in Britain and Ireland.
The group plans to continue with its capital investment program and intends to make further acquisitions ``should suitable opportunities arise,'' said Chairman Harry Evans.
Dolphin of Poole, England, is expanding its newly acquired thermoformed polystyrene packaging molder, Food Containers Ltd. in Leeds, England. The operation, taken over in April 1997, outgrew its site and recently moved into a new, 30,000-square-foot, food-grade plant.
Meanwhile, the firm has expanded processing capacity at its main, 120,000-square-foot Poole plant, with the addition of two extruders, four thermoforming lines and two injection presses. Expansion is necessary to keep pace with the plant's annual sales volume growth of 10 percent, said Richard Michel, finance director.
Manufacturing space at the facility has grown with Dolphin's transfer of storage and distribution to a rented site at nearby Hurn Airport. Those functions will be shifted to a new, 100,000-square-foot property close to the plant when the new facility is vacated in 2003, the firm said.
The Poole plant was hit by a downturn in demand for produce and salad containers due to poor summer weather conditions. However, it has accelerated production of new printed and decorated packages and has entered the market for modified atmosphere packaging, Michel said.
Its Liverpool subsidiary, Dolphin Fairway Ltd., acquired in 1996, originally concentrated on producing expanded polystyrene foam food-service disposables such as burger boxes, plates and trays.
But new investment in 1997 expanded its range of extrusion and thermoforming equipment, including the addition of Battenfeld Gloenco extruders. The expansion enables the plant to meet more exacting standards for MAP products for meat and poultry. A new, laminated tray line is being launched this year to meet retail contracts being negotiated, the company said.
There also has been some investment at the firm's Irish offshoot, Dolphin Packaging Ltd. of Greenore, which manufactures thermoformed produce trays. A new, high-speed thermoforming line is being installed to take advantage of market niches for its new packaging specifications.
For the six months ended June 30, Dolphin reported pretax profit of £3.75 million ($6.34 million), up 17 percent over the 1997 period, on sales of £24.1 million ($40.7 million).