Portugal’s Colep Packaging has moved into the aluminium aerosol can sector with the purchase of a 40 per cent stake in Spain’s ALM.

Porto-based Colep, which makes tinplate and plastic containers, said the move was targeted at expanding its range of containers and enabling more customisation of its products, and was part of a strategy to accelerate growth through acquisitions.

The value of the deal was not disclosed, but local media reported that Colep chief executive Paulo Sousa said that he saw this as a “first step” towards the complete acquisition of ALM.

“This acquisition represents an important moment in our growth strategy, aligned with the ambition to enlarge the packaging solutions of our company,” said Sousa.

Aluminium aerosol can sales held up during the pandemic as declining demand for personal care products was balanced by increasing purchases of hygiene products. Since the loosening of Covid’s grip on the global economy earlier this year, the sales profiles have begun to revert back, according to global aluminium aerosol industry group Aerobal.

The purchase will give Colep an opportunity to exploit the market in Europe for personal care products, which is dominated by aluminium cans, in contrast to North America and other parts of the world, which prefer tinplate cans.

Colep Packaging has annual sales of €119 million (US$121.8m) and makes aerosol, industrial and food cans. It employs around 700 staff in Portugal, Spain and Poland.

Last year Colep’s parent company, Portugal’s RAR Group, split the business into two divisions: Colep Packaging for tinplate aerosol and general line cans, and Colep Consumer Products, which makes packaging for personal care, cosmetics and healthcare.

While both companies are still owned by the RAR Group, it’s hoped that by separating operations each business will be able to compete more efficiently in their respective markets.

Barcelona-based ALM was established more than 30 years ago and sells aluminium packaging to domestic and international markets.

In an interview with Portuguese news outlet Dinheiro Vivo, Sousa said the company would spend next year studying market trends, specifically with an eye on new packaging.

Aerobal said earlier this year that brands had begun looking to simplify their choice of can shapes and designs. That comes also at a time when makers of products such as shampoos, soaps and motor oil are newly opting to use aluminium packaging.