SINGAPORE — Groupe Sidel has tightened its Asian activities, but still anticipates growth in the region, particularly in India.
In early March, Sidel relocated a Singapore commercial sales operation to subsidiary Sidel Industry Malaysia Sdn. Bhd. The commercial office had been in Singapore since mid-1992.
The Asian economic downturn that began in mid-1997 hurt Sidel sales in Singapore, in part because customers could not obtain financing.
``In 1999, we are seeing a real increase compared to 1998,'' said Henri Attias, sales director for the region.
The Sham Alam, Malaysia, facility assembles and displays machines; handles quality assurance, after-sales service and laboratory services, and spare-parts stocking; and offers training.
Groupe Sidel of Octeville, France, opened the 21,600-square-foot Malaysia operation in 1996 as the firm's first Asian subsidiary for the production of blow molding machines to make PET packaging products.
Sidel selected Brazil for its only other manufacturing site outside France: a sales and service center in Sao Paulo.
During 1998, Sidel Malaysia delivered 39 machines and had sales of US$15 million out of companywide sales of US$890 million. The subsidiary delivered 15 machines in 1997 and six in 1996, its first year in operation. The units are used on five continents.
Customers include operations of Coca-Cola Co. in Japan, PepsiCo Inc. in India, Chuan Sin Sdn. Bhd. in Malaysia and Zhong Fu Industries in China.
Carbonated drink producer Chuan Sin began operating a four-mold Sidel Malaysia blow molding machine at its Taiping, Malaysia, plant in August. The plant already had a six-mold machine, plus Husky preform and cap-making equipment.
Sidel's strategy calls for the Malaysia site to produce annually as many as 80 blow molding machines identical to those made in France. Once the factory reaches that level, it will need to expand.
The subsidiary sources about 70 percent of machined parts for smaller machines in the region, mainly from suppliers in Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan. Sidel Malaysia employs 80.
India is a major potential growth market for Sidel, Attias said.
``Sidel plans to open new facilities in this country. Sidel Malaysia has supplied to the Indian market more than 12 machines, while the same number has been supplied from Sidel France,'' he said.
No expansion timetable was available.
Sidel employs 20 in India, with a main office in Mumbai and an industrial center in Bangalore.