Narrow Web Profile: Reynders Etiketten

By Jack Kenny | November 28, 2005

The latest technology and the highest quality are propelling this Belgian converter to global expansion.

Marc, Jacques and Paul are the sons of the late Emile Reynders, who founded the family's printing company in 1956. From a small business in northern Belgium making labels on paper, the brothers have moved forward aggressively, striding into challenging markets and new geographical territories. Although the annual turnover is about €50 million a year, and although Reynders Etiketten possesses some of the most advanced technology in the industry, the principals are modest. "We're not big," says Marc Reynders, managing director. "We just have printing machines."

At the headquarters site in Boechout, Belgium, alone, Reynders has three plants, one each for production of conventional labels, pharmaceutical labels and security labels. A digital label building is soon to open. Reynders has plants also in France, Luxembourg and Poland. The most recent expansion is a joint venture with a label converter in New Delhi, India. The company employs about 250 people.

The brothers are not restrained by markets. They make labels in these industries: cosmetics and body care, household, pharmaceutical, logistics and office, variable information, chemical, petroleum, agrochemical, food and beverage, fashion, industrial marking, promotional, engineering, and security. If the technology exists, it can most likely be found in a Reynders plant: flexography, offset, letterpress, screen printing, digital printing, sleeve processing, foil printing, and a host of other inline processes.

Marc Reynders says that about 25 years ago the company had to make a choice between commercial offset printing and labels. That decision has proven to be profitable. "Growth for us comes from inside the company," Marc says. "We are a very lean group, driven by our products, rather than by financial issues. If we have a profit, we invest in machinery."

The brothers divide the management duties: Marc runs operations and general organization, Jacques focuses on sales, and Paul is the finance expert.

The latest technology

Marc Reynders
To meet the constant and growing demands of its wide customer base, Reynders Etiketten pursues technologies that will keep it in the forefront of the industry. For many years the company has been a customer of Gallus, the Swiss press manufacturer, printing labels from its earliest days on letterpress machines.

About 20 years ago, Reynders opted to try an Arsoma, a flexographic press. That was the beginning of the growth of flexo within the company, and today it has the latest Gallus flexographic equipment. Two of its presses are the fully servo-driven RCS 330 machines. Reynders also owns two Nilpeter offset presses. Also in use are rotary screen and hot and cold foil units from Gallus.

In total, Reynders Etiketten operates 48 presses. The company takes in between 40 and 50 new jobs a day, Marc says; these are mostly small jobs. Print runs are split evenly between film and paper products.

The operation in Poland was begun four years ago. "We saw that the marketplace presented opportunities there, so we started from zero," Marc recalls. "We moved into an old building, and at first we had no business. Now we have three machines there (one is for blank labels), and we are printing flexo in five, six and seven colors."

The joint venture in India is new, and it's too early to measure returns. But Marc Reynders says that he and his brothers are well aware of the potential in that geographic location, and want to be part of the coming Asian expansion.

Europe's markets

At work on a Nilpeter offset press
Manufacturing labels in Europe has its peculiar challenges, Marc Reynders points out. The European Union might exist in global economics, but on a smaller scale the local factor remains strong.

"Europe is not a marketplace," he says. "It is a collection of smaller marketplaces. Europe is aiming at becoming a single or a larger marketplace, but it's still not so easy for us to do business everywhere, to travel around Europe and sell labels. Most people are buying local." More often than not, he says by way of example, a potential label customer in Germany will prefer to do business with a German printer. It is for that reason that Reynders operates in several countries.

"It's changing," he adds. "It's moving toward one market, but 60 percent of customers are still local. We have to look closely at our own industry: In a few years we will see the shake-out of smaller companies. Then perhaps the market will expand."

Looking forward

Offset and letterpress in the Reynders production plant
Over the next several years, Reynders will evolve. Right now the brothers are hands on — very hands on: Marc, for example, buys every roll of material and every piece of equipment. "We don't have managers," he says. "It can be very stressful. At the smallest meeting I make presentations." Adding a layer of management is on the company's agenda, he adds.

"We have to improve our organization, always," he says. "We will have a completely new computer program for managing our orders by the end of next year. It will be amazing — one of the world's best programs — and it will give us a good boost. In production, we are in the process of changing our old presses to new.

"And we are not very well known. We must undertake more marketing to grow the company, not just in Belgium but in France, Poland, India."

Marc Reynders speaks highly of the company's employees. "There is a lot of strength in our company, a lot of potential. Our core is strong. This is what we tell our people: 'We promise you that you will have a job, and you promise that together we build a company'."

Reynders Etiketten

Nijverheidsstraat 3
B 2530 Boechout, Belgium

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