Rigid Containers completes €8 million investment and announces plans to increase workforce by 30%

Rigid Containers has completed an €8 million investment and projected a 30% increase in staff numbers in the next two years at its Irish production facility. In early July, the company held an official opening of two major extensions, inlcuding new converting equipment at its site in the Galvone Business Park, Limerick.

The company has significantly invested in the Limerick facility and the local community, agreeing a four year pay deal with staff, investing millions of euro in facilities and technology and providing sponsorship and support to voluntary groups in Limerick city and county, while pursuing a deliberate procurement strategy that focuses on sourcing local suppliers for non-commodity expenditure.

Mark Munnelly, Rigid Containers' Site Director, said, "Rigid Containers has quickly established itself as a centre of excellence for quality service through flexibility and operational excellence. Since acquiring the business in 2015 from its previous owners, we have grown our production volume by 30%, with plans for further expansion. While investment in both manufacturing technology and facilities are central to the progress made to date, our sustainable competitive advantage lays with our talented and committed 95 team members, many with over 20 year experience in the industry."

He continued, "Staff representatives, in the form of SIPTU and the TEEU, have been key stakeholders in the business since 2015 and have shown strong leadership and pragmatism working with us to deliver a four year pay deal that allowed us to address key business challenges, while securing four years of continuous pay improvement for staff following ten years of no pay increases. We are now formulating plans to introduce a third shift that will increase our employee numbers by a further 25 to 30 jobs over the next two years."

Left to right: Mark Munnelly, Jean-Paul Macharis and Marc Van Damme.

Long term plans
“With an investment programme to date of over €8 million and a further investment phase planned, we are confident that our fixed growth target represents a modest share of the overall market and can be achieved in a manner that drives value into the market place," explained Munnelly. “Our parent company, VPK, are long term investors and understand the immediate challenges that are faced by business looking to scale up in a competitive market place. Their current and future investment strategy for the business underpins that long term commitment."

Local community
“We are also committed to the local community and welcome the opportunities we have been given to get involved with voluntary groups and organisations," said Munnelly. "We are currently sponsoring underage GAA teams in Limerick and Limerick City FC women’s team, so our competitiveness goes far beyond the business park and our investment in the county’s future goes beyond our 100% sustainable packaging and pursuit of local suppliers where possible.”
Sean McGlynn of Limerick Regeneration said, "The expansion at Rigid Containers is a real success story for the area. Limerick Regeneration in South Hill is always keen to support the development of employment centres and as such, work closely with the Galvone Business Association in an effort to support the ongoing development and expansion of all businesses through a series of infrastructural upgrades to the estate."

Expanded site
The southern extension is 880 sqm and accommodates a new Minda materials handling system. The western extension consists of a 708 sqm ground floor and a 400 sqm of mezzanine floor. The ground floor accommodates a new Vega Altair gluer and ancillary equipment, while the mezzanine allows for more offices, meeting rooms and a staff canteen.

The new Minda materials handling system installed as part of the overall investment consisted of three double-bay transfer shuttles, 23 lanes of belt conveyor, additional storage space for WIP, corrugator take-off area and a new belt conveyor to feed the Texo rotary die-cutter and the new Vega Altair gluer.

Officially opening the newly extended site, Jean-Paul Macharis, Managing Director of VPK Packaging Group, said, "As a family run business, our investment strategy has always been to derive value from long term investment programmes. The Limerick business unit is a perfect example of this approach as we see local management combining capital investment with a realignment of the cost base and operational excellence to underpin our commercial strategy."

Macharis concluded the importance of Rigid Limerick belonging to a vertically integrated supply chain. "This level of integration has insulated the company and its customers from the recent turbulence in the paper supply market. As VPK continues to invest in our production capacity for recycled paper across Europe, we can ensure that all our corrugated businesses are further insulated from the cyclical nature of the paper markets."