Days after buying Schmalbach-Lubeca AG's plastic container and closures operations, Amcor Ltd. has created a global PET business unit and launched its headquarters at Schmalbach's former office in Michigan.
The move signals a shift in how Melbourne, Australia-based Amcor manages its PET container operation, which is now the world's largest. Previously Amcor had a series of regional units on several continents. Under the new approach, all regionally based division managers will report to William Long, former head of Schmalbach-Lubeca Plastic Containers USA Inc. and now President of Amcor PET Technologies.
``In the role of a global group, we'll be better able to identify and share best practices for customer relationships and service,'' Long said. ``The size of our customer base, and the fact that many key customers are located in the [United States], made sense for us to create this in Manchester.''
The size of the 125,000-square-foot former Schmalbach facility, compared to Amcor's North American PET's smaller base in Mississauga, Ontario, was a deciding factor to starting the business unit in Michigan, Long said.
Schmalbach's North American PET division recorded 2001 sales of about $700 million, Long said. Amcor's PET container operations, part of its Amcor Twinpak-North America Inc. unit, had sales of about $450 million annually, he said.
The company's operations in the Toronto area, including the Mississauga offices, will remain open, Long said. Only a few Amcor executives will shift to the Michigan facility, which employs about 150.
Amcor, based in Melbourne, Australia, now is evaluating its combined operations after completing the transaction to purchase the plastics business of Ratingen, Germany-based Schmalbach. The sale, for A$2.92 billion (US$1.57 billion), closed July 2.
Meantime, Amcor has purchased the minority share of a joint venture in Brazil that it had with plastics packaging company Injepet Embalagens Ltda. Amcor now will solely operate PET container plants in Jundiaí and Manaus, Brazil, that had been part of the venture, Long said.
The company has other PET container facilities in many other Latin American countries.
Amcor also is starting the transition process in its closures operations. Both Amcor and Schmalbach were partners in joint ventures to make closures before the purchase, said Jim Allen, president and chief executive officer of Amcor Closures.
Amcor has a partnership with Bericap Group Inc. of Dijon, France, to make injection molded closures in North America. Schmalbach was part of a venture with Silgan Holdings Inc. of Stamford, Conn., called White Cap LLC, that makes both metal and plastic closures.
Both ventures will continue and will operate from different locations, said Allen, who will manage a business with sales of more than $500 million annually.
``We grew large overnight in closures,'' Allen said. ``The businesses are quite complementary. Amcor was not in the metal closures business in North America nor in Europe before this, and our core products are different from that of White Cap.''
Amcor's product focus has been on water and soft drink bottles and industrial products using Bericap technology, while White Cap made closures for such areas as hot-fill isotonic juices and a variety of food jars.
``So far the integration of facilities has been textbook,'' Allen said. ``We know there will be some bumps along the way, but everyone has realized what must be done to bring this together.''