A new, less energy-intensive furnace, mold-machining and decoration capacities, automated packing lines, the debut of bottle production for the spirits segment… Stoelzle’s €20m investment in its Masnières site is shaping the glassmaker’s offer to answer to the market’s changing dynamics.
Change is afoot at glassmaker Stoelzle Masnières. The French subsidiary of Austria’s Stoelzle Glass Group has made numerous investments, totaling €20m, at its site in northern France over the last 12 months, the first of which is the inauguration of a 110-ton furnace in January of this year. Offering a capacity of 140 million bottles per year, an increase of 30%, the furnace consumes 12% less energy than its predecessor. It also has an augmented PCR content of 11.6% year-round without altering the color of the glass — a response to market demand, according to the supplier.
The furnace’s five lines now include a hybrid line suited to both cosmetics and spirits, allowing the glassmaker to launch its very first premium spirits production offer in France, with the first finished product set to launch this month. During Luxe Packaging Insight’s visit to the Masnières site late May, production was underway on the site’s first carafes. While Stoelzle already manufactures spirits bottles and carafes at its glassworks in Poland and in the UK, the company is now able to cater to the local French spirits market. “Our main target is French premium brands, but we’ll also work with clients in other nearby markets. We believe that our expertise in perfumery will bring real added value to our proposition,” notes Stoelzle Masnières CEO Etienne Gruyez. Today, some 60% of Stoelzle Glass Group’s sales are in perfume, cosmetics and spirits. “At Manières, our goal is to have sufficient production to dedicate an entire line to premium spirits,” adds Hervé de Rivoire, Stoelzle’s Spirits Key Account Manager in France.
Additionally, on the hot end, fire-finishing capacity has been added to the production lines, meaning that bottles or carafes can be fire-finished in targeted areas.
Along with the new furnace, Stoelzle is investing in its mold shop in a bid to provide its customers with increased “agility and confidentiality”. “We already manufacture all of our blank molds on-site, but the idea is to boost our production of finishing molds as well,” says Gruyez. The company has also unveiled a new robot specialized in machining molds, which joins two existing automatic machines, and can run 24 hours a day.
On the cold end, whose floor plan has been entirely reorganized, new machinery includes two robotic automated packing lines and an automated quality control machine.
At the site devoted to decoration in Masnières, Stoelzle has acquired a semi-automatic machine, an investment of €1m, offering techniques including three-color screen-printing (in a single pass), pad-printing and digital printing. For the moment the tool is dedicated to fragrance and cosmetics bottles, while formats for spirits are in the testing stages.
In terms of trends, Gruyez underlined growing demand for miniature formats. As a result, Stoelzle has modified one of its production lines at Masnières to adapt to sample-sized flacons. “The health crisis has resulted in a return to mini fragrance bottles for testing purposes. Brands are asking for significant quantities of these smaller bottles that they then send directly to the consumer,” notes Gruyez.
While the beauty market as a whole is showing early signs of a rebound, it’s still early days. “We’re getting small orders and some restocking, but visibility is still scarce. Currently, four of Masnière’s five lines are in production, but we’re remain prudent and are keeping a close watch on the market’s pulse before firing up our fifth line,” concludes Gruyez.