Groupe Sidel will cut about 15 percent of its global workforce as it continues a restructuring plan begun in 2002 to focus more on its core businesses of equipment for blow molding and filling PET bottles.
Sidel, part of Tetra Laval SA, in recent years has lost market share for reheat PET blow molding lines to competitors like Krones AG, SIG Corpoplast GmbH and Sipa SpA.
Sidel's emphasis at K 2004 in Dusseldorf is on integrated blowing/filling/capping lines, which it sells under the Combi banner.
Spokeswoman Sylvie Rak said this year Sidel will sell about 180 rotary reheat lines for blowing PET bottles from pre-molded preforms. Sources said that figure is down from about 300 in 2001. Rak said the fall is due to the flat market and increased competition.
By contrast, Krones of Neutraubling, Germany, whose origins are in bottle-filling lines, but which moved into reheat blow molding lines in 1997, is set to sell about 115 lines this year, up from 98 in 2003.
Sidel had sales in 2003 of 711 million euros ($894.6 million), down from 783 million euros ($985.2 million) in 2002. North America is its biggest market, accounting for 239 million euros ($300.7 million), with Western Europe close behind at 206 million euros ($259.2 million).
Rak said the firm will cut its current workforce of 3,800 by close to 570 - more than 180 of them in France - to cut costs by more than 20 percent. It is negotiating the cuts with trade unions. The restructuring involves closing two plants, one in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and one in Bradenton, Fla.
Sidel began making blow molding machines in Brazil 12 years ago, but said it now can make them as cost-effectively in Europe. The Sao Paulo site will close next year. Sidel makes cap feeding machines in Bradenton. Now that business will be concentrated in Strasbourg, France.
Production of aseptic filling machines in Octeville-sur-Mer, France, will be moved to a Parma, Italy, plant that opened last year and is the headquarters of Sidel's Filling Systems division. The firm already makes machines there for filling still and carbonated drinks.
Tetra Laval bought Sidel in 2001, after a drawn-out investigation by the European Commission that finally cleared last year.