Packaging major Plastipak Packaging Inc. of Plymouth, Mich., is continuing its push into Europe with the purchase of LuxPET AG SA.
The injection molder of preforms provides Plastipak with a footprint in Western Europe.
The Sept. 30 announcement gives Plastipak one injection molding facility in Bascharage, Luxembourg, with 56 employees. Plastipak plans to expand the site immediately, although officials did not provide details.
``We're very happy with this deal,'' said Marc Jacobs, LuxPET's general manager, in an Oct. 4 telephone interview from his office in Luxembourg. ``Current management is definitely staying in place.''
``LuxPET is a well-respected and well-managed company,'' said Frank Pollock, Plastipak's president of international operations, in an Oct. 5 telephone interview from his office in Slovakia. ``Our intention is to help support their budgeted growth while integrating some of our own growing needs for Europe. It's not our intention to disrupt a good thing.''
Two years ago, Plastipak had no plants in Europe; now it is set to have four. That region is hot for PET containers, in large part due to changing recycling laws affecting the beverage industry, particularly in Germany, said Ottmar Brandau, an industry consultant based in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
PET got a nice windfall from a law passed in Germany last year that essentially killed the aluminum can market within a few months, Brandau said in an Oct. 5 telephone interview.
``Even canned beer was shunned by the consumers,'' he said.
Plastipak also has a technical and design center in Bratislava, Slovakia, and a PET blow molding and preform injection molding plant in Prague, Czech Republic. Officials continue to work on a project to have a PET recycling facility in Kechnec, Slovakia, Pollock said. According to its 2004 annual report, that facility also will produce preforms.
LuxPET is one of the largest preform manufacturers in Europe. Plastipak expects LuxPET to post 2006 sales of $100 million, Pollock said. The firm began operations in 1998.
Plastipak has been on an aggressive growth trajectory in North and South America and Europe. According to its 2004 annual report, the firm's growth is being driven by the advantages of plastic over glass and metal and customer preferences for plastic and technological advances. Its major customers include Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble; Ken's Foods; Kraft Foods; Marzetti; and Tropicana.
Its Plastipak Brazil unit injection molds preforms and blow molds rigid plastic packaging in Paulinia and Manaus, and the company opened a $45 million plant in Pineville, La., in 2004.
As for further growth this year in Europe, Pollock said, ``Let's wait and see.''
Plastipak ranked third in Plastics News' 2004 survey of North American blow molders, with $900 million in total sales; $880 million of that was generated in North America.