Flambeau Europlast Ltd. has beefed up injection molding work in England by acquiring a plastics division of financially distressed TransTec plc. The purchase, terms of which were not disclosed, gives Flambeau ownership of L&P Plastics Ltd., a Margate, England, injection molder that was part of struggling TransTec, now in receivership.
Flambeau — a custom injection and blow molder — will merge the operation into its recently purchased Europlast facility in Ramsgate, England, said Bill Flint, president of Baraboo, Wis.-based Flambeau Corp.
"We're continuing to refine our global strategy," Flint said in a May 10 telephone interview. "We needed more technical expertise and more capacity in injection molding. This gives us a good beachhead in Europe."
The Ramsgate plant was purchased in mid-December by Flambeau's parent company, Baraboo-based Nordic Group, from Blowspeed Ltd. The Ramsgate plant, until now, had 19 blow molding machines and only six injection presses.
Flambeau will fold many of L&P's 41 injection presses into that plant and shift L&P employees to Ramsgate during the next six to 12 months, Flint said. The presses have clamping forces of 100-750 tons.
With the acquisition, Flambeau expects sales in Europe to increase to $25 million this year, Flint said.
The Ramsgate plant, Flambeau's only facility in Europe, recorded 1999 sales of about $8.5 million, mostly from blow molded auto parts. The L&P facility serves customers in the automotive, plumbing, building products and appliance industries.
Flambeau hopes to broaden its product base in those injection molding markets and add telecommunications and electronics to its mix in Europe, Flint said.
The Ramsgate plant is managed jointly by custom molder Flambeau and Flambeau Products Corp., a maker of proprietary cases and storage products based in Middlefield, Ohio.
With L&P, he said, "We're taking someone really good in injection molding and merging it with our blow molding expertise."
But while L&P has operated with business as usual, the same cannot be said for its former parent, TransTec. The Birmingham, England-based parts supplier is attempting to sell off its plastics divisions after entering court-ordered receivership in December.
The company's troubles, well-chronicled in the British press, are traced to Parliament member and former government official Geoffrey Robinson, the company founder. TransTec owes its creditors 130 million ($210 million), said Michael Henman, spokesman for accounting firm Arthur Andersen's London office.
Arthur Andersen took over administration of TransTec in December and is attempting to find buyers for its many divisions, Henman said.
The divisions include four other plastics processing companies — Elliott Plastics Ltd., Plasmar Ltd., Rubber & Plastics Industries Ltd. and Rolinx Ltd.
"As receivers, we are looking to sell other bits of businesses as going concerns," Henman said. "We're not just closing down plants."
The courts have set no time line to jettison the TransTec pieces, but Henman said his company would like to complete negotiations as quickly as possible.
Meanwhile, Flambeau's acquisition will boost its employees in Ramgate to 250-300, Flint said.
The company is pursuing other opportunities, including a planned alliance with a French injection molder, Flint said. The company also is working on a possible joint venture with a minority-owned company to support Flambeau's automotive customers worldwide, he said.
Flambeau was 25th on Plastics News' 1999 ranking of blow molders, with $95 million in relevant sales, and 71st on the 2000 ranking of injection molders, with $80 million. Nordic Group recorded about $350 million in sales last year.