THE ABANDONED FACTORY IN BELGIUM
‘Verlipack’ was an abandoned glass producing factory in Jumet. It produced glass bottles in large quantities for brands like Heineken Beer and Muscadet Wine.
‘Group Verlipack’ was the biggest producent of bottle glass in Belgium. It had a marketshare of 20% in Belgium and 2% in the European Union. The company had 735 employees working in the three factories in Ghlin, Jumet and Mol. The bottle glass industry suffered a crisis in the 1960s. However the company survived this period well. A new crisis emerged in the 1970s. In 1978, prices collapsed by around fifty percent. Verlipack went bankrupt in 1985.
Verlipack was taken over in 1987 by the Beaulieu Group, owned by the West-Flemish carpet manufacturer Roger De Clerck. Later that year the Belgium government became 49% owner of Verlipack. At the same time De Clerck is suspected of large-scale fraud by means of fictitious money transactions; he would have sent an estimated 1.5 billion francs abroad. In 1995 and 1996 Verlipack incurred substantial losses due to bad management and in particular to the low quality of its production. As a result the government sold their part of the company to the German Heye Glas in 1996. The new management was, despite investments, not able to obtain better product quality.
On January 18, 1999, another bankruptcy sealed the fate of Verlipack Jumet, it was terrible news for the 187 employees of the company. The Jumet site was abandoned, the other sites were sold and re-used by other companies. The buildings were demolished in 2006, but it took about 10 years before new development plans were ready for the site. I took these photos of ‘Verlipack Jumet’ in 2005.