Matrix Polymers Ltd., a leading European materials supplier to the rotational molding sector, plans major new expansions thanks to an injection of private equity cash.
Northampton, England-based Matrix expects to benefit from the recent purchase of a 50 percent stake in its parent, Revolve Group, by Nevis Overseas, an investment vehicle set up by a group of British and foreign individual private equity investors.
Matrix, which last year launched a plant in Poland, intends to raise its compounding and grinding capacity significantly and extend its sales geographically. It also is considering opportunities for acquisitions abroad.
Matrix, which reported record sales of around £30 million ($54 million) in 2005, is a major supplier of polyethylene granules to European rotomolders. It also provides specialized materials such as cross-linkable, foaming and metallocene PE and conductive and flame-retardant grades.
A sister firm, Merseyside Polymer Processing Ltd. of Knowsley, England, compounds, grinds and blends material for Matrix in a plant with three single-screw compounding lines and an annual capacity of almost 30 million pounds. The compounder specializes in working to strict color specifications.
The Polish plant, Matrix Polymer Polska of Kolo, has one compounding line and employs 15. It opened in October, offering a range of powders, blends and compounds with an annual compounding capacity of 5.5 million pounds and grinding capacity of 11 million pounds.
The group set up in Eastern Europe where rotomolding growth - flat in Western Europe because of the process's labor-intensive nature - has blossomed. Rotomolders have taken advantage of Eastern Europe's lower energy costs, skilled workers and competitive raw materials, according to Matrix sales director Geoff Brown. The Polish plant also has offered Matrix valuable freight savings, he added.
``One of the things that makes us unique is that we are 100 percent focused on rotomolding,'' Brown said. He pointed to new growth opportunities for the process, particularly in the production of large water tanks, increasingly in demand in parts of the world suffering from severe water shortages.
His company expects to increase its annual sales substantially during the next three years, possibly through acquisitions.
In 1999, Matrix set up a U.S. distribution business, Just Roto Inc. in Rolling Meadows, Ill., to develop PE grades for North American rotomolders. The company established a 65,000-square-foot compounding and blending plant in St. Paul, Minn., later that year.
But Matrix later closed those operations when it decided it had overstretched itself. Since then the firm has concentrated on growing its business in Europe, according to Brown.