London-based Rexam, which also makes more than 40 billion drinks cans a year, said it was selling its Barnsley-based glass business to Dublin-based Ardagh Glass for £50m.Ardagh said it could not rule out job losses at Barnsley, which employs 700 staff and had operating profits in 2004 of £3m on sales of £101m.Sales director Alex Robertson said the firm, which trades under the Rockware brand in the UK, was planning savings and productivity and quality improvements by merging the Rockware and Rexam businesses.However, Mr Robertson said job prospects at Barnsley would be better under Ardagh than they would have been under Rexam.Our intention is to keep the operation at Barnsley running as a going concern, he said.Ardagh has plants in Knottingley and Doncaster in Yorkshire, Worksop in Nottinghamshire and Irvine in Ayrshire.It also has sites and businesses in Germany, Poland and Italy.
Rexam makes jars, bottles and other containers for the drinks, food and pharmaceuticals industries, with customers including major fizzy drinks makers, Bacardi and Scottish distilleries.
The disposal will leave it with just its continental European glass operations in Germany, Holland, Poland and Scandinavia, a spokesman for the group said.
Rexams chief executive Lars Emilson said the UK glass market was facing a difficult outlook and new capacity in the industry was making things worse.
After reviewing our options, we felt that, as the number three player in the UK glass industry, divestment in this case was the best course of action, he said.
Rexam said it would use the proceeds of the sale to pay off debts.