£5m machinery investment to boost Huhtamaki output by 25 per cent

Huhtamaki Lurgan general manager Philip Woolsey (centre) with Manufacuting NI chief executive Stephen Kelly (left) and Petr Domin, executive vice-president of Huhtamaki Moulded Fibre, who has been with the company since 1990 and once acted as general manager in Lurgan
Gary McDonald Business Editor

EGG cartons and cup carrier-maker Huhtamaki Lurgan expects to boost its output by up to 25 per cent after shelling out £5 million installing new purpose built machinery.

The move will also enable the moulded fibre packaging specialist to considerably boost its energy efficiency, saving almost 200 tonnes of co2 emissions annually, which is equivalent to 80 family-sized cars travelling 12,000 miles a year.

Installation of the fully automated and entirely bespoke machine commenced in November, creating 12 new full time jobs, and the staff count at the Lurgan plant - which has been manufacturing products such as cup carriers, egg cartons and egg trays for 80 years - is now more than 200.

Indeed Huhtamaki (Lurgan) is see as a world leader in the manufacture and supply of premium, consumer goods packaging to a portfolio of global brands such as McDonald’s, Skea Eggs and Noble Foods.

Philip Woolsey, general manager at Huhtamaki Lurgan, said: “This new machinery not only secures jobs, but attracting such significant investment from the wider Huhtamaki Group is also a huge vote of confidence in our staff and their ability to produce a world class product in Lurgan.

“It will enable Huhtamaki Lurgan to achieve future growth in the UK market and to further improve our offering to our customers. It is also one of the largest investments the Group has made on machinery within its moulded fibre segment which has a total of 11 plants across four continents.

“This is particularly significant given that we contend with higher energy costs here in the UK than any of our global counterparts. Over the last five years we have improved our energy efficiency by more than 12 per cent and this new machinery will help us to further enhance this."

Installation of the machinery at the Dollingstown plant, which processes more than 25,000 tonnes of recycled paper every year, also provided employment to over 100 contractors in the local area.

Stephen Kelly, chief executive of Manufacturing NI, described Huhtamaki as "a great company with great products and great people".

He added: "At a time when local manufacturing has struggled with costs, it has shown that with the right strategy and investment it can make savings and still compete successfully on a local and global level."

The Lurgan operation is part of the wider Huhtamaki Group, based in Espoo in Finland and which comprises 70 manufacturing units spread over six continents, with over 16,000 members of staff who specialise in a diverse range of expertise including engineering, production, transport management, marketing and customer service.

Last month Huhtamaki paid £80 million to acquire west Belfast’s largest indigenous firm Delta Print & Packaging, founded in 1981 by entrepreneur Terry Cross and which employs almost 300 people.

Delta makes cartons for a string of major global brands including McDonald’s, Kellogg’s KFC, Tesco and Sainsbury’s, and the deal to acquire the firm also includes Delta’s recently opened Polish manufacturing operation.

Huhtamaki also operates a paper recycling unit in Lisburn.

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