Who will be your film supplier in 5 years’ time?
In September, Camvac (ex-Amcor) went into liquidation, whilst Skymark Packaging was taken over by Toppan, of Japan. These developments add to the near 40 UK independent film companies ‘disappeared’ since 2009.
So, how does a UK independent flexible packaging business continue to thrive in 2023? Please watch the video.
The acquisition of Alcan by Amcor in 2009 kick started the consolidation of the UK’s packaging film supply market. Since that time, some 40 independent UK film suppliers have either been acquired or gone bust! This is an unbelievable transformation for any industry. (For the sake of brevity, the 40 companies ‘lost’ are listed at the end).
Toppan, of Japan, entered the UK flexibles market, with their acquisition of Interflex in 2021. Their acquisition of Skymark in September was directly after the announcement of Constania’s purchase of FFP in August. Thus, two more UK flexible convertors were taken over, whilst Camvac went bust. All this in just 2 months!
(Perversely, Constania themselves were also sold to a USA Venture Capital company in August).
So, who are the major companies left in the UK packaging film supply market?
These 7 international organisations now dominate packaging film supplies in the UK.
The recent take overs of FFP, Interflex, Ultimate and Skymark leave few, major independent film suppliers. National Flexible being one, Roberts Mart, Discovery, Parkside, Clifton, and KM Plastics being the bulk of the remainder.
Does this industry consolidation really matter?
The answer is, it all depends how large your spend is on packaging films and the ongoing support you want from your film supplier. Obviously, a suppliers financial stability and consistent quality are paramount considerations. However, the larger the film supplier, the more large key customers they will have. Therefore, it’s not unreasonable to suggest to ensure you get the best service, technical support, and personal attention, ideally you need to be one of those large key customers.
Invariably, by their very nature, independent suppliers tend to be more flexible (excuse pun). For example, at National Flexible, we guarantee every film delivery, on time and in full, on the agreed delivery date. Should we ever fail to meet this standard, we refund the customer 20% of the value of the order. All our deliveries are made from stock within 2/3-days, with a free 24-hour emergency delivery service for those customers who have signed up to our free stock service.
None of the independents listed are ‘small companies’ and they each offer their own unique supply advantages.
Investment in print machines, laminators, and slitters is constantly required to keep up with ever developing flexible print technology, thus, there is a high financial barrier to entry. Therefore, any newcomers into the UK flexible’s market are unlikely. In addition, large technical support teams are needed as film technology continues to develop and packaging formats change to accommodate the need for more sustainable, recyclable films. As a consequence, increasing investment in these technical areas, plus large film stockholdings, are essential.
Currently, it is known that at least one of the 5 other listed independents is for sale, so the consolidation noted will continue. Imported films have always had a fair share of the UK market and this could grow if the multi-national companies listed attempt to abuse their pricing power.
Meanwhile, the whole flexible packaging industry is being challenged by the anti-plastic pressure groups and their media allies. However, while ever plastic film technology continues to develop and the recycling infrastructure improves, the flexible packaging industry has a bright future. Which is probably why these multi-billion, international companies, have invested in the UK.
We shall see!
As ever, your thoughts on any of the above items are welcomed. And why not join me on LinkedIn for more regular updates?
Companies who are no longer with us!! – Do you recognise any of these names?
Action Packaging, Alcan, Arrow, Arteb, ASP, Brayford Plastics, Bridge, Brittons, Camvac, Cannings, Contemporary, Crest, Cropac, Danisco, EBR, EPL, Excelsior, Falcon, FFP, Flexible Vision, Flexiprint, Grahams, Interflex, IG Industries, Lawson Marden, Learoyd, Malpack, Merlin, Mondi, Orion Flexo, PP Global, Paragon, Primopost, QC, Roloflex, Romney, Scandiflex, Tullis Neal, Ultimate, Venus, Wheatley, Wrapid.