Macfarlane plans major expansion in Ireland

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PACKAGING specialist Macfarlane is poised for significant expansion in Ireland as the Glasgow-based group extends its overseas business.

A new Irish base in County Wicklow will allow Macfarlane to boost production of its re-sealable food packaging.

Chief executive Peter Atkinson said employment in Ireland would probably double to 40 over the next 12 months. The Wicklow property has been leased to Procap, the Belgian group that bought Macfarlane’s Irish plastics business in 2009. Procap is using a break clause in its lease to vacate.

The plastics division was one of a number of operations sold by Macfarlane following a strategic review to stem sagging profits in the late 1990s. What had been an unweildy and over-diverse group of 15 operating companies is now streamlined into two divisions, manufacturing and distribution.

The company is now taking a cautious approach to overseas expansion. The Irish moves builds on an existing distribution agreement with Printpack of the US, as well as Macfarlane’s decision earlier this year to join the NovuPak network of European packaging distributors.

“What those partnerships may lead to we wouldn’t want to predict, but for the time being partnership is working well for us,” Atkinson said.

Macfarlane said profits in the second half continued showing “good growth”.