Closure specialist signs $60m deal despite coronavirus problems

The boss of Italian closure manufacturer Pelliconi recently signed a multi-million deal in the US with drinks giant Dr Pepper, even as he attempts to manage problems at his plants caused by the coronavirus.

Pelliconi managing director Marco Checchi struck the US$60 million, three-year, deal to supply plastic closures during a trip to the US at the end of February, which he managed to complete despite the increasing travel chaos caused by the pandemic.

Based near Bologna, the global leader in crown caps has two plants in Italy, one each in Italy and the US, and a plant in China. It has a total capacity of around 32bn metal and plastic closures a year and sales of €165m ($178m).

Towards the end of last year, Pelliconi more than doubled the capacity at its easy-open cap facility in China, Pelliconi (Suzhou) Closures Manufacturing Co, following a $12m investment at the plant located in Jiangsu Province, near Shanghai. This was constructed at the end of 2016 with three production lines capable of producing 1.2 billion ring-pull Maxi-P26 caps a year. The capacity has now been increased to 2.5bn ring-pull caps a year.

Speaking to an Italian publication at the beginning of March, Checchi explained that because of coronavirus, companies like his had to adopt new ways of working.

Checchi stressed it is important to constantly review the situation as the pandemic develops. Ensuring the maintenance of high levels of hygiene and sanitation at its plants, including the adoption of sensible staff distancing to prevent the spread of the virus, was crucial, he added.

Pelliconi’s plant in China had been idle for about ten working days after the Chinese New Year holidays at the end of January – longer than Checchi had originally anticipated. “Then, fortunately, our factory reopened,” he said. Initially, the facility was only operating two out of the normal three shifts, but it is now up to full production.

While consumption of carbonated beverages and therefore demand for crown caps has declined in China, the market is recovering, he said. “We are, however, quite confident: by the end of the month we should return to the pre-virus situation. In fact, our customers are already bottling.”

“Pelliconi Suzhou is our gateway to the east,” said Checchi when the Suzhou plant was opened. He also suggested at the time that another facility might be opened in India.

Checchi revealed a new design of lightweight metal closure for bottles from Pelliconi during The Canmaker Summit held in Venice in October 2018.