Viability is key to the Uflex investment strategy
Packaging South Asia’s Harish Penumarthi recently spoke with Anantshree Chaturvedi, vice chairman and chief executive officer, Flex Films International at the company’s Noida headquarters. Flex Films has state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities in India, UAE, Mexico, Poland, Egypt and USA. A global packaging solutions provider, Flex Films (a part of the Uflex Group) participated in interpack in May 2017, with a positive response to the innovative film products shown there.
Speaking about the company’s expansion plans, Anantshree Chaturvedi said, “We have a film manufacturing plant in Poland with a machine capacity of 2500 tons a month. We may take a decision on our expansion plans for the Poland unit in the next 6 to 8 months. Our company is looking to expand in a way that is product specific and so we will consider expansion only if we wish to pursue new or unique specialized products. I am not interested in expanding in commodity films.” According to Chaturvedi, the European market is healthier and more stable and competitive than the US market. He says the reason for this is that Europe has a thick base of converters and end users in comparison. “Recently, the European market has picked up three macro trends. Firstly, the demand for greater barrier properties has gone up significantly. Secondly, sustainability is catching up. Thirdly, there is a surge in merger and acquisition activity, which has resulted in the rise of mid-level players who have consolidated and gained considerable market share. As a result, mid-level competition in the European market has risen,” said Chaturvedi. There have been significant developments within Uflex after the Pack Expo event in Chicago in late 2016. New products have been launched by Uflex from its global plants. Amongst these, a new AlOx product and holographic products were launched out of Mexico and high barrier products out of the US manufacturing unit.
The main challenge for Uflex in the US, according to Chaturvedi, is that the top suppliers have a disproportionate market share which makes it difficult for challengers to expand and widen their customer base. For Indian film manufacturers and converters to succeed in the US market, an aspect that has to be kept in mind is achieving high quality standards. The US market is a quality-centric market demanding innovative and safer products and to manufacture a product that is viable in that market, deep introspection is required. Another important aspect for survival in the US market is to provide continuous and hassle-free technical service and backup.
Explaining his approach as far as new products launches, Chaturvedi said, “Although we continue to make small investments in our Egypt, Dubai and Mexico operations to improve the quality of products, we do plan to limit the number of products launched every year, considering the potential buyers and owners within the product line and keeping in mind if there is a competitive advantage over other available products in the market. On an average, the company launches about 20 to 30 new products each year. However, now we are also looking to focus more on the aseptic packaging segment.” The Uflex group is a pioneer in not only films but in the entire flexible packaging solutions supply chain. In addition to supplying innovative films, it prints and converts flexible packaging material with brand protection and anti-counterfeiting for leading brand owners globally as well as supplying a range of printing, converting and filling and sealing equipment. Apart from the recent innovations that Uflex has shown in the liquid packaging segment, Chaturvedi spoke of another major engineering development taking place at the company’s engineering plant in Noida. “There is significant development on the Cl flexo press project that Uflex launched earlier this year. The world-class press will be ready for beta testing by mid-October and we plan to install it in our own packaging business premises in Noida by mid-November.”
Copyright 2017 -- Harish Penumarthi and Packaging South Asia – edited by Naresh Khanna