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Glassbel plans expansion at Klaipėda FEZ
The architectural and interior glass manufacturer UAB Glassbel Baltic has expanded its plot of land in the Klaipėda FEZ, and over the next few years, the company will expand its current glass sorting and other manufacturing infrastructure. In the second stage, there will be investment in new capacities and products. The direction for this latter investment will be dictated by new trends in the building and office markets, which are still under analysis.
According to Glassbel head of commerce Valdas Virbalas, the company is currently still operating in the context of pandemic challenges, where the market is limited by commodity, energy and transport service prices, as well as late design works from its clients. Nevertheless, Glassbel is looking further into the future and perceives opportunities for growth there.
“While seeing how FEZ is expanding we have made decision to ensure that we have land available for future expansion, without moving to new location, but concentrating and working in one location, which gives certain technological and quality advances. The expansion will be staged. Therefore, in the coming years in first stage of expansion we will have to build extension of our exiting premises without adding anything special from the technological side simply to have space for glass sorting, which will allow to improve planning and increase efficiency. In the 2nd phase of expansion we are still in the discussion on what production capabilities will be required for the future architectural market. Currently, markets are trying to find out what the office or living space should look like and feel like. The market realized that people have to get back to offices especially when vaccines are available, however working conditions will have to be adjusted and various aspects should be taken into account: ventilation, spacing, catering, lifting, etc. There are loads of analysis and considerations going on at the moment,” states Virbalas.
The company does not indicate its planned investment right now. In 2020, Glassbel’s turnover reached 15 million euros which is around a 20 per cent decrease compared to 2019, mostly due to the pandemic.
During the first half of this year, the façade glass manufacturer has already recorded a moderate recovery in its results, but at the same time, it perceives trends that clients looking to compensate for rising commodity prices are seeking simpler and respectively more affordable products and solutions despite this not always proving justified in the context of a specific project.
Virbalas notes that a trend of sustainability is evident in the real estate market, which is something that Glassbel takes note of.
“Sustainability topic is very much valid and its importance is growing. Some investors are considering building only energy-efficient and sustainable buildings. Efficiency is calculated not only on the aspect of product performance, but also on all production cycle starting raw materials production and going to final product and logistics. Therefore, we must follow these trends and produce efficiently with minimum consumed energy. Another trend which is growing in USA is bird protection-related. Most of us can recall a very sad moment when bird is hitting the car or the window. The market wants to minimise these cases, and so there is loads of research going on in order to find solution that glass would be seen for birds and they would not crash into it. We are working on these solutions too and already have some products which can protect birds, however, we still looking for new ways too,” comments the head of commerce at Glassbel.
Glassbel mostly exports to the Irish, UK, Baltic and Scandinavian markets. This year, it plans to strengthen its positions in Western Europe and the USA, and currently employs over 150 staff members.