Lego's Denmark HQ to lay off workers
BILLUND, DENMARK - Lego Co. announced Feb. 3 that it will cut 161 jobs within 70 days at its Billund headquarters plant, blaming slower Christmas sales in some markets.
The large, highly automated injection molding plant employs 1,500 and has been the company's chief manufacturer of its plastic building-brick products.
The company reported that its warehouse stocks are high, and there are strong indications that retail stocks of its products are high, too. That situation is much different than a year ago, when demand in January 2002 rose, the firm recalled.
``With consumer optimism flagging, especially in the United States, we have no option but to trim production to current warehouse stock levels,'' said Chief Operating Officer Poul Plougmann.
Lego closed two plants in Europe in 2001. The Billund work force is worried the new layoffs are a sign that more cutbacks are on the way.
``Inevitably, it will create a sense of unease. Only two years ago we had to cope with a similar round of redundancies,'' said Berit Flindt Pedersen, union representative for Billund hourly workers.
Lego production facilities in Switzerland and the Czech Republic, along with its packing operations in South Korea, remain untouched in the latest cutback program, according to the company.
Autoliv Inc. opening facility in Poland
STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN - Autoliv Inc. has expanded its seat-belt capacity in Europe by almost 5 percent with the launch of a new production plant in Jelcz-Laskowice, Poland.
The 54,000-square-foot facility is starting with nearly 200 employees, but the Stockholm-based firm eventually plans to double the work force.
Customers include DaimlerChrysler AG, BMW, Opel, Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen AG.
``The new plant meets our need for additional production capacity as well as [our] aim of reducing costs by moving labor-intensive production to low-labor-cost countries,'' said Lars Westerberg, Autoliv's president and chief executive officer.
In the past three years, Autoliv has shifted 5,000 jobs to sites in more economical countries. Now it has close to a third of its total work force in such locations.
Even so, Autoliv is growing and investing in high-value-added safety systems in high-cost countries, Westerberg said.
Autoliv has nearly 80 production facilities and employs 30,000 in 30 countries.
Rexam raises funds for impending growth
LONDON - Global consumer packaging group Rexam plc, which announced it is acquiring its second glass container manufacturer in three months, now plans to expand its geographical reach in the plastics closures and cosmetic packaging areas.
London-based Rexam has raised more than £85 million ($136 million) from a stock market issue of nearly 22 million new shares. The funds will finance its pending purchase of Luner Glashuttenwerke GmbH, as well as several small plastics packaging acquisitions this year.
Rexam, which now claims fourth place in the world consumer packaging league, continues to look for takeover opportunities in plastics packaging. In cosmetics, it wants to fill geographical gaps, while it needs to strengthen its closures spread in Europe, according to spokesman Per Erlandsson.
``We need to widen our global presence. ... In closures, we are very heavy in the United States, but we are still a bit little in Europe,'' he said.
Rexam, which has an international presence in plastics, can and glass packaging, faced a dilemma last year when it had to decide whether to grow in glass containers or drop out altogether, Erlandsson said. It chose to build on its glass packaging presence.
Although Rexam also is in the resaleable PET bottle business, he saw no clash in being in both plastics and glass packaging.
Young G&S Plastics gaining equipment
SOMERSET, N.J. - Not even a year after starting, custom injection molder G&S Plastics Inc. is preparing to add one or two presses with about 1,000 tons of clamping force.
The equipment will be in addition to the nine injection molding machines at the 50,000-square-foot plant that employs 36 in Somerset. Without going into specifics, co-owner Glenn Gray said the additions are being prompted by strong sales during the past year. He said the machines probably will be added during the spring or summer.
``It depends on how it is economically,'' Gray said, who co-owns the operation with Sabra Smith. ``I'm paying for these with my own money.''
Gray said G&S, which has services in design, engineering, toolmaking and finishing, hopes to more than double its work force within the next three years.
G&S, which got its start in June, supplies household, point-of-purchase and industrial markets. The company also has secondary production lines for finishing, assembly and packaging, as well as a machine shop for tooling modifications.