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UK roll label converters expect consolidations to rise
By Barry Hunt
More UK roll label converters are expected to consolidate their resources, says an online survey of sector members by the British Printing Industry Federation (BPIF). Apparently, 70 percent of the 40 respondents expect consolidations to increase in the next two years. Some 45 percent of them believe insolvencies will drive the process, while 47 percent cite mergers and acquisitions as the main force.
“Over 55 percent of companies in this £500 million ($949 million) market are actively pursuing or currently considering a merger, acquisition or disposal strategy,” says Marcus Clifford, managing director of McInnes Corporate, which conducted the survey. “Most are looking for businesses to complement or supplement their own within the labels and packaging sector in the UK although a small proportion is looking overseas to the continent.” He noted that 57 percent of companies were reviewing their plans and devoting more management time to strategic issues. More than half of respondents were optimistic or very optimistic about their own businesses, but 20 percent were pessimistic. Only 12 percent were optimistic about the label sector as a whole.
The BPIF supplemented the McInnes Corporate survey with sector-specific data from its Printing for Profit survey report. This confirmed that while overall the label sector performed below the national average for the printing industry, some extremely wide variations in performance exist. Over the past 10 years, larger companies have been growing faster than smaller companies (4.2 percent compared with 0.1 percent), whereas on average smaller companies are more profitable (9 percent versus 5 percent).
“Clearly there is an opportunity for companies to use consolidation effectively to boost company performance and shareholder returns in this sector, however it must be underpinned by a clear and robust strategic plan whether it be for growth, differentiation or a new business model,” Clifford adds. His company intends to develop this survey across other graphic sectors, including packaging, screen and digital, finishing and binding, backed by annual updates on structural and strategic changes.
Russian buying habits boost premium labeling
Russian consumers may like low prices, but premium retailing is on the rise, says IGD, an international food and grocery research organization. Besides helping to boost the country’s emerging label industry, converters in eastern and central Europe should also benefit from this polarization of the Russian retail market. The company ranks Russia as the third most important emerging market in the world, just behind China and India, and this is attracting the attention of many global retailers.
The French-based Carrefour organization is tipped to lead the way in entering Russia. “There are various methods by which it could enter the market, including franchising, acquisition of an existing player, or independent entry,” says Cecile Riverain, senior international business analyst, IGD. She notes that while investing in Russia would present a growth opportunity for Tesco — the UK’s largest retailer — it is heavily committed to developing other high potential markets like the USA and China.
Skanem turns waste liner into hand towels
A pioneering waste disposal project to turn discarded release liners into paper hand towels in India has begun. It follows cooperation between Skanem, a large European group of self-adhesive label converters, and Maratech, part of the Channeled Resources Group based in Marathon City, WI, USA.
Like many other converters, the group was concerned about finding a useful method of disposing of silicone coated backing paper. “Calvin Frost, a committed ecologist and founder and chief executive of Channeled Resources, was keen to join us in this scheme by acting as the facilitator for the recycling,” says David Harrisson, multinational sales director of Skanem, which is headquartered in Stavanger, Norway. “The waste paper is collected, put in containers and shipped to India, where it is pulped and turned into the sort of paper towels you find in dispensers in hotels or aircraft toilets. It is an ideal solution to a major problem.”
“For some reason European recyclers have been loath to handle self-adhesive label liners because of the silicone,” adds Frost. “They have the same machinery and processes as we have in the USA, where we have no problems in pulping this waste. The silicone is stripped off the paper and disposed of with the normal liquid waste — it is not toxic — and then the paper pulp is recycled in the normal way. The mathematics of the costs for doing this add up and produce a small profit, which makes the operation worthwhile.”
Harrisson concludes: “We believe that this cooperation is unique in our industry, but it shows that with commitment, suppliers, customers and recyclers can work together and create a solution that is beneficial to the planet. Until now this waste has been thought of by some as a problem. We have shown that it can be a benefit.”
Major expansion for Belgian drug industry labeler
One of Belgium’s largest label converters, Reynders Label Printing, is investing more than €9.7 million ($12.9 million) to expand its pharmaceutical division and increase sales throughout Europe. Reynders Pharmaceutical Labels was relocated in new business premises in late November. So far the expansion includes a further 32 new employees, while new plant and equipment includes 14 label presses and a post-production inspection department. Major accounts include Pfizer, Janssen Pharmaceutica, Schering-Plough, Alcon-Couvreur, GlaxoSmithKline, and Baxter.
Reynders Label Printing celebrated its 50th anniversary last year. During the past 15 years it has seen a five-fold increase in the number of employees to reach a workforce of 285 people at its site in Boechout, near Antwerp. The group includes a division to produce self-adhesive labels for the cosmetics, personal care and luxury goods sectors, while another produces labels for security and special applications. There are also Reynders subsidiaries in Poland and France specializing in labels for industrial applications.
Italian press maker gains a Finnish sale
Tarratuote OY from Tampere — one of the oldest and largest label producers in Finland — is the first company in northern Europe to install the latest version of Omet’s Varyflex UV flexo press.
The seven-unit machine has a 13" printing width and includes a cold foil facility. It features a redesigned, shorter web path and a lower press frame to make it easier to operate and maintain the interchangeable units. Omet claims that waste is reduced and performance levels are higher on the modular press.
Pago Group joins with sleeve label equipment supplier
Turpins Packaging Systems (TPS) and the Swiss-based Pago Group have formed a partnership to exploit the fast-growing film sleeve market. Turpins will provide cobranded sleeve systems — sold under the Sleevit name —for Pago to distribute exclusively in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and Liechtenstein. It says the arrangement will allow it to strengthen its position as a supplier not only of shrink sleeve labels, but also sleeving systems as an integrated supplier.
Located in southeast England, TPS is part of Turpins Packaging Group, which manufactures label application machines, shrink label tunnels and product handling technology. The product range includes various tamper evident and primary decoration features.
Stork Prints acquires AKL Flexo Technik
Expectations of a bright future for flexo sleeve technology have prompted Stork Prints Group to acquire AKL Flexo Technik, a leading producer and innovator of in-the-round flexo sleeves. Stork manufactures flexo engraving devices and ancillaries and gains AKL’s technical expertise and a complementary product portfolio. The overall aim is to develop open-platform sleeve packages. AKL can plug into Stork’s R&D and financial resources, plus its global distribution network, to assist expansion and improve customer service.
Stork Prints appointed Edward Scheppink, its former commercial manager for sleeve products, as the new managing director responsible for all sales and marketing activities. Ronald van de Meer, a cofounder of AKL in 1990, is the new technical manager at the company’s plant in Warburg, Germany. It has 50 employees and supplies a range of flexo products to global repro and printing houses. These include the OptiFlex thin sleeve, which is compatible with any photopolymer material. Customers can therefore freely select the material with the best qualities or hardness to suit particular print runs.
Scheppink singled out the growth of flexible packaging — more of which is produced on narrow and mid-web flexo presses — as providing a boost for in-the-round flexo sleeve imaging. It had increased the need for seamless/endless printing formes produced with either laser ablation mask techniques or using the direct laser engraving method. “AKL Flexo Technik’s expertise in this area will be instrumental in helping us find ways to reduce further the cost of ownership of flexography. A crucial step in achieving this is the development of fully compatible seamlesss printing formes, which offer a fast and easy transfer from prepress to printing stage, and ease of setup.”
Expansion-minded press manufacturers
Two major European narrow web manufacturers have set out their respective stalls as part of their longer term future. First, GIDUE announced a share buyback plan from the Swiss-owned Banque du Gottard, which represents a 32 percent stake in the company. It concluded a five-year R&D plan and other elements marking the company’s progress. Federico d’Annunzio, in charge of business developments, says innovation and continuous improvements would assist further investments based on objectives identified in the first five-year plan. UV rotary offset is likely to figure largely, following the launch of the Xpannd combination offset/flexo press in May last year.
Over the mountains in St. Gallen, Switzerland, Gallus says it has turned a 30 percent stake in BHS into a full takeover. Gallus intends to expand BHS’s line of mid - and wide web presses with inline diecutting designed for producing small folding cartons. It will apply its existing expertise based on the modular linking of several printing and processing steps on the same platform. Gallus will incorporate the folding carton business in a separate business unit based in Weiden, Germany.