Clariant International Ltd. is relocating a concentrates plant in Naucalpan, Mexico, and closing a pigments plant in Coventry, R.I.
The Naucalpan operation - including 180 production and corporate jobs and four twin-screw extrusion lines - will be moved to a nearby Clariant site in Santa Clara, Clariant Masterbatches Mexico business head Miguel Ramirez said in a phone interview.
The Santa Clara site already produces pigments and additives. A fifth twin-screw line will be added to the concentrates operation by the end of 2008, Ramirez added.
``This is more of a site consolidation, since Santa Clara is better equipped to handle future growth,'' he said.
Clariant Masterbatches' business in Mexico and Central America is on track for sales growth of 25-28 percent this year and could match that amount in 2008, according to Ramirez. Much of that growth has come from markets for packaging and consumer goods.
In Rhode Island, the pigment plant - which produces materials for plastics and several other markets - will be closed by the end of 2008, Clariant spokeswoman Connie Knight said. The closing will eliminate 120 jobs at the site, which Clariant acquired from American Hoechst in 1997.
Between 70 and 80 jobs will remain in Coventry, mainly in sales, marketing and administrative positions, Knight said. The Coventry site has a manufacturing history dating back more than 200 years, she added.
The closing is a result of Clariant's efforts to optimize its network of plants, Knight said. Production will be moved from Coventry to sites in Germany and Mexico.
On Nov. 7, Muttenz, Switzerland-based Clariant announced that its nine-month sales for 2007 were up almost 6 percent to more than 6.4 billion Swiss francs (US$5.6 billion). However, the firm's operating profit was flat vs. the same period last year at about 270 million Swiss francs (US$238 million).
In the first nine months of the year, Clariant's masterbatches and pigments and additives units each enjoyed sales gains, but experienced substantial drops in operating income, largely because of higher raw-material costs and slow markets for automotive and construction.