Glass plans signal a brighter future

Yorkshire-Based glass manufacturer SLI Glass could be saved from administration this week by an entrepreneur who says he will keep all 165 employees on and plans to recruit up to 600 more staff over the next five years.

Howard Denby, who runs Glaztek, is hopeful he can complete a deal with administrators to acquire fluorescent glass tube maker SLI Glass, based in Harworth, Doncaster.Huddersfield-born Mr Denby has been looking for a manufacturing plant for Glaztek to develop a series of glass-based products for the construction industry including marble-effect glass floor tiles.SLI Glass, which makes glass light bulbs and fluorescent tube casings, was put into administration in January with spiralling gas costs and the loss of a major client blamed.

Ian Brown and Neville Kahn of Deloitte were appointed administrators of SLI Glass and have been working to find a buyer for the operation. Mr Denby said: "As a company Glaztek was formulated specifically to manufacture special glass products for the construction industries. We have been looking for a suitable site for some considerable time. The SLI site at Doncaster fits all our requirements as does the benefit of a ready trained workforce. When the deal is completed, we will continue with the manufacturing of the glass tubing for the specialists markets and continue to trade in that sector.

"As time proceeds we will introduce our own specialist products which will work in tandem from the same site and for which we already have orders plus a great deal of interest in both public and private sectors." Mr Denby said: "As Glaztek's operations increase it is expected that there will be over 600 permanent direct jobs created plus another 500 associated service sector jobs over a five-year period in addition to the existing workforce of SLI Glass. We were looking at a site in Cardiff, but SLI is a much better opportunity because of its proximity to transport links."

Glaztek, which is being advised by McInnes Corporate Finance and law firm Keeble Hawson in Leeds, has a series of discussions with the administrators Deloitte and SLI Glass' holding company SLI UK Holdings since SLI Glass went into administration.

Mr Denby said: "It is an exciting time for us and we appear to have the full support of the SLI management team on this acquisition. The main thing is to try and stabilise SLI and calm the understandable fears and worries of the workforce."

Mr Denby said he was "well aware" that the main problem facing SLI was the huge increase in gas prices, which has affected all glass manufacturers in the UK and seen 1,000 jobs lost in the industry – including 200 in Yorkshire – in the last quarter of 2005.

However he claimed that the processes used in Glaztek's own glass production, combined with specialist manufacturing techniques will minimise that concern and balance the energy input.

Mr Denby formerly worked in project management, before deciding to launch his own enterprise with Glaztek. He explained: "I'm fed-up of watching other people putting things together and decided to do it for myself."

600450 Glass plans signal a brighter future
Date: 8 March 2006

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