Glassware Maker Raises A $52m Toast To China

US' Libbey Inc, a leading provider of high-end glass tableware worldwide, launched its new factory in Langfang yesterday, making it an integral part of the firm's global supply chain.

The plant, with an investment of $52 million, will be equipped with latest technology. It will produce high-quality glasses for wine, beer, milk, juices, soft drinks and other beverages, as well as ashtrays, candleholders and other glassware.

All products will be sold in hotels, restaurants, bars and retail stores throughout China and major export markets around the world.

Kenneth Wilkes, vice-president and general manager of Libbey's international operations, said the goal for the new factory is to be recognized as one of the best glass tableware facilities in the world.

Net sales by Libbey, which supplies to retail, industrial and business-to-business customers in over 100 countries, totaled $689.5 million last year.

Its investment here follows its recent expansion in Europe through the acquisitions of Royal Leerdam of the Netherlands in 2002, Crisal of Portugal in 2005, and Crisa of Mexico last year.

With the Langfang plant, Libbey brings state-of-the-art glassware-making equipment and processes to China. By making Langfang a regional hub for integration into its global supply chain, the company also demonstrates its growing interest in the country.

"This has been seen as a major step forward in transforming Libbey into a global glass tableware supplier," said John Meier, Libbey's chairman and CEO.

He said Libbey's proprietary manufacturing technology is a core competency and will be key to its progress in countries where it has glassware manufacturing operations.

Libbey is a leader in providing unique wine, beer and cocktail glasses to most world-famous eating and drinking establishments, with the maximum market share in North America.

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