Acquisition of UK moulder Souplex / Expertise in thermoset moulding / 13 plants in Europe
Independent UK moulder Souplex (Northgate, White Lund, GB-Morecambe LA3 3BD), formed in 1926 and with a GBP 20m turnover, has been bought by acquisitive US plastics processor Moll Industries, Inc (Knoxville, TN, USA), bringing its assets in Europe to seven plants in France, four in the UK and one each in Germany and Portugal. The deal, for which no purchase price has been disclosed, follows an announcement last month that Moll was centralising its activities in Europe as a pan-European operation headed by Jean-Jacques de Boissieu, previously manager of the company´s business in France.

Souplex has two injection moulding plants in Morecambe and a tooling design and manufacturing facility in Mansfield. The thermoset injection plant is one of the largest in the UK, housing 28 machines rated at up to 300 t and accounting for 25 % of the Souplex moulding business. It will add considerably to Moll´s presence in this sector of the market, particularly for under-the-hood automotive components. The thermoplastic moulding facility has 48 machines rated at up to 350 t.

Most of the Souplex business, to date, has been in the UK, but its acquisition by Moll is expected to open up new opportunities, both in mainland Europe and in global companies operating within the UK. Former Souplex director Malcolm Holmes, now managing director of Moll UK, Morecambe, said: “Joining forces with Moll gives us the ability to reach into markets which previously would have been very difficult for us to snap.”

In addition to the Souplex activities, which employ 300 staff, Moll also has a UK moulding plant in Gloucester, established last year after the purchase of a previous in-house moulding operation. This has machines rated from 350 t clamp up to 1,200 t. Holmes told the intention is to grow the Moll UK business, but capital investment will not go ahead until he has had time to ascertain the future needs of key customers. “Expansion will need significant amount of cash,” he commented.

The 13 Moll plants in Europe include five devoted to tooling design and manufacture. Three are in France, at Bonneval, Chalon and St. Vit, and, in addition to the Mansfield site of Souplex, there is a further activity in Portugal, at Marinha Grande. With the takeover of former Hanning Kunststoffe GmbH (D-33106 Paderborn) in 1997 Moll added a subsidiary in Germany, Moll Industries GmbH & Co KG. Total staffing in Europe is low in excess of 1,400.

Worldwide, Moll Industries is one of the largest diversified manufacturers of injection moulded components, with 4,300 employees at 30 plants in seven countries. In April it bought three US and Canadian facilities from Compression Engeneering Inc. Moll specialises in a complete service from initial product design through to final packaging and assembly. Its GEM (Global Enterprise Molding) programme is intended to ensure manufacturing consistency across all facilities.
30.06.1999 [17964]
Published on 30.06.1999

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