Pechiney Plastic Packaging Inc. plans to shut down a flexible packaging plant that has been in operation in Cleveland since the 1970s.
About 220 people will lose their jobs by this time next year once the health, personal-care and specialty packaging plant completes the processes of relocating equipment and establishing alternative customer contacts in other facilities, said Pechiney Plastic spokesman Mark Lindley.
``Our first priority is our employees but also to ensure a smooth transition for our customers,'' Lindley said. ``The business will go to other facilities in our system.
``We want to make sure employees are properly trained at the other facilities and make sure our customers are comfortable with the new facilities.''
Pechiney Plastic is a division of Paris-based Pechiney Group, a major producer of aluminum products and plastic packaging. Lindley said the closing was the result of high costs at the Cleveland plant, not a slowdown in packaging markets. In fact, Pechiney Group's recently released financial results for the first six months of 2001 show that profit from the company's packaging unit was up 35 percent over the same period a year ago.
``Market conditions are strong for our product lines - especially for health care,'' Lindley said in a July 25 telephone interview from Pechiney Plastic's U.S. headquarters in Chicago. ``We have four facilities in health-care and specialty items - 28 in all - and we have a chance to increase efficiency and expand capacity.
``The Cleveland facility was made up of good people but had high costs.''
The three other health and specialty packaging facilities are in California and North Carolina. Pechiney also operates two other food-related packaging facilities in Ohio - Akron and Bellevue.
Officials from the 269,000-square-foot Cleveland facility declined to comment on the plant closing.
Pechiney Plastic ranked eighth in Plastics News' most recent survey of North American film and sheet manufacturers, with estimated sales of $767.9 million. Lindley said sales figures for the Cleveland facility were not available.