LA HAVRE, FRANCE — French PET blow molding machine maker Groupe Sidel enjoyed a 26 percent sales gain in 1998, as very strong growth in North America and Europe more than offset plunging orders in Asia and a flat South America.
Sidel reported 1998 sales of 5.2 billion French francs ($890 million). The company sells PET blow molders in 70 countries.
North American sales last year jumped 76 percent, to FFr1.5 billion ($263 million). Sidel credited strong sales to the growing U.S. water bottle market, where the number of PET bottles increased 45 percent.
In carbonated drinks, Sidel said, PET's market share has risen from 15 percent in 1993 to 25 percent by the end of 1998.
In Europe, Sidel's largest market, the strongest markets in 1998 were France, Italy, the United Kingdom and Turkey. Sales to Europe increased 48 percent, to FFr2.3 billion ($398 million).
Sales to the Middle East/Africa region grew 30 percent.
Machine sales declined 55 percent in the Asia-Pacific region, Sidel's smallest geographic market. The once-fast-growing South American market cooled in 1998.
Going into 1999, Sidel's order book stood at FFr2.83 billion ($480 million), a 12.7 percent increase from a year earlier. Orders were off in Europe by 10 percent, but much stronger, by 63 percent, in North America.