Citing industry overcapacity, ExxonMobil Chemical Co. shut down half of its oriented polypropylene film capacity in Stratford, Conn., on July 6, and plans to close the plant entirely by mid-2007.
One of the 293,000-square-foot plant's two lines stopped production July 6 and 90 employees were laid off, spokesman Donald Stewart said in a July 11 telephone interview. The films business, based in Macedon, N.Y., will shift production to other North American facilities.
The company had invested in the Stratford plant during the past two years in an effort to hike efficiency and help performance. But those efforts ultimately could not save the plant in an industry with more competition and weaker demand, he said.
``It comes down to economies of scale,'' Stewart said. ``The market for OPP films is very competitive right now, and there's no forgiveness for anyone not to run as efficient an operation as they can. We have more capacity in our system than we need, and we need to get in the most profitable position as possible.''
Houston-based ExxonMobil is considered a global leader in OPP film, which converters use to make packaging for snack foods, candies and consumer products. Competitors in the United States include Amtopp of Livingston, N.J.; Applied Extrusion Technologies Inc. of New Castle, Del.; and Toray Plastics (America) Inc. of North Kingstown, R.I.
About 73 employees still work in Stratford but will be phased out during the next two years, Stewart said. The company eventually plans to sell the building and the 18.7 acres of land surrounding it.
ExxonMobil has other North American OPP film plants in LaGrange, Ga.; Shawnee, Okla.; and Belleville, Ontario. ExxonMobil's Films Business had estimated North American sales of $330 million in 2003 and ranked 18th on Plastics News' listing of film and sheet manufacturers.