Sonoco to invest $20m in a triplex laminator and rotogravure printing press

By Jenny Eagle

- Last updated on GMT

The 11-color rotogravure press from Bobst Coproration.
The 11-color rotogravure press from Bobst Coproration.

Related tags Kuala lumpur Printing Investment

From purchasing a $20m triplex laminator and rotogravure press to building a composite can facility in Malaysia and opening an Innovative Packaging Solutions (IPS) R&D centre, Sonoco shared details about its upcoming projects with shareholders at its 2015 AGM recently.

The company plans to buy a triplex laminator and rotogravure press from Bobst Corporation, starting operations in the second quarter of 2016. The laminator will be installed at its Ohio plant and the 11-color rotogravure press will be placed in Texas.

Composite cans in emerging markets

The company also plans to expand its composite cans business in emerging markets. It will  invest $20m to build and start up a composite can facility near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with production starting in the second quarter of 2015 and full production in early 2016. 

We are actively pursuing several opportunities to “grow the can” into new markets and platforms​,” said Jack Sanders, president/CEO, Sonoco.

Last year, we opened a composite can plant in Kutno, Poland, and we added a second line to this plant at the end of last year to enhance our growth throughout Europe. However, we are most optimistic about growth opportunities in southeast Asia​.

After starting up a second can plant in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, last year, we were then awarded  significant new can business and have invested $20m to build a facility near Kuala Lumpur, which will triple our capacity when fully operational in 2016​.

And, in China, we added a second can line to our existing Tai-Cang facility, near Shanghai, and it is now sold out. To meet increasing demand, we will add a second can plant in Southern China starting later this year with completion expected in 2016​.”

IPS R&D studio in South Carolina

He told shareholders, Sonoco will also invest $11.9m to build an IPS R&D studio which will open in the third quarter of 2015 at its Hartsville, South Carolina campus.

It will include a Consumer Interaction Studio for consumers to interact with products and packaging in retail, kitchen, living and bathroom environments. The facility will also have collaboration spaces, where experts will interact with the latest technologies to turn ideas into packaging concepts for commercialization.

The focus will be on rapid prototyping, including 3D printing capabilities, an FDA-registered food fill facility and a multi-platform pilot plant with manufacturing production capabilities for producing test-run packaging for customers.

We remain firmly committed to our grow and optimize strategy for 2015 and forward​,” said Sanders.

This includes achieving higher than market average growth; improving operating margins; successfully integrating weidenhammer; maximizing free cash flow; targeting capital deployment to grow our business and return cash to shareholders; and optimizing our portfolio through simplification and improved efficiency​.”

He added, North America remains as Sonoco’s largest and most important market, representing about two-thirds of its sales. 

But clearly, the real opportunity for incremental growth is in emerging markets, where a growing middle class is seeing increasing disposable income, which we believe bodes well for packaged goods - and for us​,” he said.

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