Swiss chemical logistics firm launches $45m facility here

Bertschi's facility on Jurong Island, which sits on a 329,500 sq ft site, is the firm's first in South-east Asia. Launched yesterday, it will serve speciality chemical companies, offering services that include handling and storage of dangerous goods,
Bertschi's facility on Jurong Island, which sits on a 329,500 sq ft site, is the firm's first in South-east Asia. Launched yesterday, it will serve speciality chemical companies, offering services that include handling and storage of dangerous goods, drumming and repackaging services.PHOTO: BERTSCHI

Swiss chemical logistics firm Bertschi has opened a $45 million facility on Jurong Island, as it moves to expand its footprint in Asia's growing speciality chemicals market.

Launched yesterday, the facility, which sits on a 329,500 sq ft site, is Bertschi's first in South-east Asia.

It will serve speciality chemical companies, offering services that include handling and storage of dangerous goods, isotank storage (containers used for the transportation of bulk liquids), blending, drumming and repackaging services.

"The shifting focus to speciality chemicals is not just confined to Europe, as our latest investment illustrates," said Mr Hans-Jorg Bertschi, president and chief executive of the Bertschi Group, at the opening.

"New plants on Jurong Island are able to maximise their processes with optimum efficiency. They will require less capital expenditure as they can now outsource their processes to Bertschi," he noted, adding that Belgian chemical firm Solvay Novecare has signed on as its first customer.

To meet the growing needs of its customers, the company also plansto invest more than$20 million in a second dangerous goods warehouse, to be completed in the second half of next year. The opening of the two highly automated facilities is expected to add about60 to 65 jobs in total here.

Mr Bertschi also said Singapore, as South-east Asia's largest chemical hub and the main gateway to Asia, is the "ideal location" for Bertschi to set up its Asian headquarters.

To meet the growing needs of its customers, the company also plans to invest more than $20 million in a second dangerous goods warehouse, to be completed in the second half of next year.

The opening of the two highly automated facilities is expected to add about 60 to 65 jobs in total here.

Despite the slowdown in global demand, Mr Bertschi told a briefing yesterday that he remains optimistic about the prospects for growth in Asia.

"The overall climate in Asia depends on the mood at the moment but, in China, our business activity continues to grow... it's just slower," he said.

"But the growth is going to continue," he added, pointing to how the automotive and electronics industries, for instance, are increasingly turning to high-end and energy-saving solutions.

Mr Damian Chan, executive director of energy and chemicals at the Economic Development Board, who was also at the launch, said: "While better known for its refineries and petrochemical complexes, Jurong Island has in recent years welcomed more manufacturing activities in speciality chemicals.

"Such manufacturing activities require specialised logistic capabilities, and the addition of Bertschi is an example of how we continually ensure Jurong Island remains competitive," he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 30, 2016, with the headline 'Swiss chemical logistics firm launches $45m facility here'. Print Edition | Subscribe