Owens-Illinois (O-I) is to invest more than €50 million in the modernisation of its Reims plant in Marne, France.

With all-new high-tech equipment, a new overall layout, and additional technical innovations, the plant will increase flexibility, capabilities and energy-efficiency.

The project includes a complete renewal of one of the plant's two furnaces as well as new industrial equipment on the attached production lines.

The upgrade is expected to be completed by mid-2019.

"This is a strategic investment to strengthen our position in the Champagne business," said Francois Pierrot, Country Group Executive, Southwest Europe, for O-I.

"We will be able to serve our customers in the premium segment even better with improved flexibility at the plant and within O-I's overall manufacturing network in France."

O-I will also hire approximately 30 new employees in Reims to further strengthen the capability of the plant.

Following extensive training, they will join the more than 200 employees already working in the plant in areas such as production, supply and procurement, and maintenance.

"This €50 million project is a major long-term commitment to the Reims area. It represents one of the biggest investments in the region during the last few years, further bolstering O-I's reputation as a strong player in the region and making the plant an even more attractive employer," said Dallah Mekki, O-I's plant manager in Reims.

The O-I factory in Reims is located in the heart of the Champagne vineyards, minimising delivery routes and time to the wineries.

It also serves premium wine customers located in the other regions of France such as Burgundy, Alsace and the Loire Valley.

The Reims plant has a highly diverse customer base serving more than 1000 customers in France.

When the upgrade is complete, the Reims plant will be able to produce bottles in three colours and in the full range from 0.2l to Magnum-size.