Groupe Sidel is investing 35 million euros ($51.5 million) to build its first plant that will assemble the firm's full range of beverage bottling equipment, from blow molding to filler to palletizing, in Beijing.
Sidel started work on the new plant in May and is scheduled to open the 430,000-square-foot facility in mid-2008, spokeswoman Sylvie Ory said in an interview at K 2007 in Dusseldorf.
The Le Havre, France-based company has been manufacturing in China since 1995, when it opened a filler machinery plant in Beijing. The company also runs a toolmaking facility in Shanghai.
The plant is being built in the Beijing Economic Technological Development Area industrial zone, which already is home to a plant owned by Sidel's parent company, Pully, Switzerland-based Tetra Laval SA.
Sidel President Gerard Stricher said in a news release that the Beijing plant ``will enable us to significantly boost our competitiveness by eliminating customs duties and intercontinental shipping costs.''
``We will also be able to offer faster delivery times to our Chinese customers,'' Stricher added.
The fast-growing Chinese market posts annual beverage consumption growth of about 7 percent. Imports of blow molding machines soared 143 percent in 2006, according to the Beijing-based China Plastics Processing Industry Association.
The market for small water bottles, in particular, is growing rapidly, Ory said.
Sidel recently invested in another big expansion project in Asia. In June, the company moved an operation in Shah Alam, Malaysia, that assembles PET blow molding machines to a new, 118,400-square-foot site. The Malaysian operation makes 100 machines annually.
The new Beijing plant will feature a different product mix from the Malaysian plant and target different geographic regions. While the Malaysian plant exports compact machines worldwide, production in Beijing will serve primarily the Chinese market, according to Ory. Also, it will feature all of Sidel's products, she said.
Sidel's customers in China include major food and beverage companies, including Changhua, Taiwan-based Ting Hsin International Group.
Sidel also recently announced that China's largest PET bottle producer, Zhuhai Zhongfu Enterprises Co. Ltd., has purchased its 100th Sidel blow molding machine. Sidel said the machine is a high-speed SBO 24xs, the first of its kind in Asia.
Zhuhai Zhongfu, based in Zhuhai, produces 12 billion PET bottles annually. It supplies to beverage giants like Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc.
Sidel, which employs 5,300 worldwide, reported net sales of 1.22 billion euros ($1.8 billion) for fiscal 2006.
In addition to China and Malaysia, Sidel also manufactures in India, the United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Italy, France, Portugal and Chile.