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Ahead of the game

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Ireland's Clondalkin Group was quick off the mark in recognizing the potential of having a foothold in Poland.

Clondalkin 1

A nine-station MPS 330 combination UV-flexo press, one of Harland Poland's three narrow-web presses in the new Lublin plant, turns out p-s labels and film shrink sleeves. Boxes Prestige Poland was established specifically to serve new customers such as Avon Cosmetics with locally made folding cartons.   Poland is a rapidly developing hotbed of packaging companies, competing for their share of an increasing volume of business within Eastern Europe. The Clondalkin Group, based in Ireland, is one of the converters taking advantage of this burgeoning market. A growing business, with two divisions—Flexible Packaging (foils, laminates, polymerbased films) and Specialist Packaging (folding cartons, labels, leaflets), Clondalkin first arrived in the region in 2003, setting up a Polish division of its UK carton operation—Boxes Prestige.

"We were one of the early entrants into the market and have taken advantage of the opportunity in Eastern Europe from the day our plant opened," says Chris Hill, sales and marketing director of the Specialist Packaging Div. "The decision to move here was obviously customer-driven, to supply the demands for increased local consumption. We were keen to deliver the service levels only achievable through being in close proximity to our customers for existing partners such as Avon, who transferred their own production from the UK to Poland.

A pre-emptive strike  "However, we also wanted to be ahead of the game and pre-empt other companies who were also considering outsourcing manufacturing to the region," Hill adds. "As such, we were able to offer a seamless transfer of our customers' various packaging needs from the UK to Poland."

Boxes Prestige Poland, located in Lublin, 150 miles southeast of Warsaw and with good transportation links, is locally managed and sources raw materials both internationally and locally from a variety of suppliers. Situated in a 64,500-sq-ft facility, the business produces value-added, printed folding cartons and operates a range of systems, including MAN Roland sheetfed-offset presses and foil-stamping and windowpatching equipment. The operation now employs more than 100 staff and has an impressive customer list of both Polish and other European packaging customers for consumer and other goods.    

Harlands Labels (celebrating its 175th anniversary this year) was acquired by Clondalkin SPD in 2005, swiftly following Boxes Prestige to Lublin to set up a mirror-imaged production facility to its UK operation.

"Our business is all about creating centers of excellence in production and supplying high-quality packaging materials," Hill continues, "and with Harlands Labels now situated adjacent to Boxes Prestige Poland, we now have a great offering to extend to our existing and new customers across the entire European region."

Mirroring high standards  Harlands Poland has been in operation since October of 2005, employs 18 people, and "to the delight of customers in the region, produces labels to the same exacting standards as the highly successful UK operation," Hill says.

Ian Wright, managing director of Harlands Poland, concurs: "Poland is becoming more and more important to us, and we're delighted to have taken this step. As a business, we had been evaluating Poland for some time, and the Clondalkin deal came along at the best possible time, as it provided us with a stepping stone to enter the market and begin production immediately.

"We've been able to ramp up production to supply Avon Cosmetics with labels from our Lublin plant, and we're now also supplying a range of local and international customers from our Polish base."

Both Clondalkin plants operate nine-unit Multi Print Systems MPS 330 combination UV-flexo presses (www.mps4u.com). The 13- in.-wide MPS machines feature interchangeable rotary-screen units and chill drums for producing film products such as sachets, sleeve labels and wraparounds. In addition, both operations include a range of other equipment, with the new Polish facility operating a Mark Andy 2200 and an Aquaflex LX250 in addition to the high-speed, long-run capabilities of the MPS presses.

Ian Wright continues: "The plan has always been to mirror our prolabel duction facilities so that we can offer the same flexibility out of both manufacturing sites while building in a level of natural contingency, and it works very well—both for us and our customers."

No end in sight  Clondalkin's move to Poland has been a great success and continues to offer growth potential to the business through the on-going shift to Eastern Europe.

"Poland has been great for us," Hill concludes. "We have set up world-class manufacturing operations that are managed and run by excellent teams of qualified local staff. The geographical position has allowed us to offer a wider range of production options for the increasing number of businesses moving to the region. We're pleased to assist the many [packaged-goods]customers that are considering the very same kind of move, as it's a great way to develop a mutually beneficial business relationship."

With annual sales of about US$1.02 billion, Clondalkin Group's revenue is generated roughly by 58 percent in Continental Europe, 18 percent in Ireland and the UK, and 24 percent in the US.

  • SPECIFICS:  BOXES PRESTIGE POLAND: Lublin, poland  
  • OPERATIONS: Sheetfed-offset and combination UV-flexo printing, foil stamping, window patching for folding cartons  
  • PLANT SiZe: 64,500 sq ft  
  • EMPLOYEES: 100  
  • HARLANDS POLAND: Lublin, poland  
  • OPERATIONS: combination UV-flexo printing, diecutting  for labels, film shrink sleeves
  • EMPLOYEES: 18