Label suppliers in good health | Supplier analysis – labels Factory Suppliers Manufacturers Quotes

Label suppliers in good health | Supplier analysis – labels

Label suppliers in good health | Supplier analysis – labels

Label suppliers in good health | Supplier analysis – labels

The label sector is going through a period of growth if PN’s snapshot of suppliers is anything to go by. Jez Abbott spoke to six companies and looked at the current trading conditions, plus the latest technology

Label printers are boasting record growth and turnover jumps of 10% despite evermore demanding clients.

Macfarlane Labels’ sales director Clive Jackson is not alone in singling out reduced lead times as a big challenge: “Retailers, brand owners, everyone wants responses and products straight away.”

Clients are more demanding not just on time but quality, says Royston Labels’ marketing manager Stephanie Rogers: “People are getting savvy about the different effects that can be combined on labels, such as silky backgrounds and metallic foil. But they have to beware of false dawns. There was lot of fuss about augmented reality labels a year ago, which have novelty value but won’t yet become standard.”

False dawn or not, you need the skills to push boundaries and Label Apeel managing director Stuart Kellock sees problems. “Recruitment and trying to find skilled people is the big challenge, especially within flexo. A lot of printers are strong on sheet-fed litho but on-reel flexo isn’t as straightforward.”

Another challenge is market fragmentation. Mercian labels managing director Adrian Steele reckons there are 400 dedicated UK labelling companies, making it hard to understand how the market may turn. Denny Bros’ sales and marketing director Stephen Jarrold would like to see more confidence, which in turn could nurture “brave entrepreneurialism”.

 

Label Apeel

The Leicester company provides self-adhesive UV flexographic and digital labels for beers, wines and spirits, food and personal care sectors. The 45-staff business makes £4m turnover and also offers reel- and sheet-fed labels, non self-adhesive tags and unsupported film for sachets and bags. Managing director Stuart Kellock spoke to Packaging News.

How has business been for your company in the past year?
It’s been a mixed bag but we’ve seen growth of 5% to 10%. March and April dropped off a bit before bouncing back in May, June and July and we are comfortable; quietly confident.

What challenges are you facing?
Recruitment and trying to find skilled people is the big challenge, especially within flexo. A lot of printers are strong on sheet-fed litho but on-reel flexo isn’t as straightforward.

What do you see as the biggest market opportunity for labels over the course of the year?
Opportunities will come knocking for those prepared to look for innovation in capital expenditure, marketing and sales, and those applying technology to solve customer issues. Those with a commoditisation mindset and sitting on old machinery will struggle in the months to come.

What do you see as the key developments in packaging technology at present?
Digital seems to be peaking in terms of development and progress; what will be interesting is seeing how conventional printers respond. I saw lots of innovation at the last Labelexpo from the likes of MPS, Gallus and Mark Andy, which will make conventional printing a more attractive process.

How has your client base changed over the years?
It continuously changes, as clients always look for different services, quality and added value, which is great. Our customers are not massive or huge spending but are coming in at a reasonable rate: average new customer spend is £12,000 and we get 10 to 12 new customers a month.

What is the most unusual project you’ve worked on?
A client asked us to design a wine bottle pourer, but it never took off. It was the drip that got away.

If you could change one thing about the business environment in which you work, what would it be?
Not much: taxes, bureaucracy, employment law and hygiene standards will always be there for a reason – think horsemeat scandal – to protect people.

 

Mercian Labels

Headquartered in Cannock, Staffordshire, 25-staff Mercian Labels works with a sister company AC Labels in Derby to roll out fast turnaround digital labelling for 9,000 UK companies, tamper-evident stock and high-volume variable barcode labels for medical and pharmaceutical clients. Adrian Steele, managing director, shared his views.

How has business been for your company in the past year?
This year turnover will be around £3.5m and this is our sixth consecutive record year. Competitive pressures have made us sharp on pricing – good for us and our customers. We have enjoyed sensible double-digit growth and I’m happy.

What challenges are you facing?
The usual challenges of a growing business: AC Labels has doubled in size this year and finding space is tough. Lead times continue to fall and we have a three-working-days-lead-time mantra at the business.

What do you see as the biggest market opportunity for labels in 2014?
Innovation; we have invested a lot of money and time this year on technology. I’m not yet ready to reveal but we see sustainable recovery in the economy, which will throw open market opportunities.

What do you see as the key developments in packaging technology at present?
Labels is one of the prime areas of packaging and the move from analogue to digital will happen in other forms of packaging such as cartons and flexible packaging, which is ripe for the technology.

How has your client base changed over the years?
We are still getting micro-businesses coming to us for shorter runs and quicker lead-time capability but not so many; instead we are getting more medium and large accounts.

What is the most unusual project you’ve worked on?
A competitor’s tamper-evident labels were found to have a flaw: prisoners discovered if they ate lots of orange peel then dribbled their urine on the seals, they could unseal and reseal packages without it showing. We had to solve that glitch.

If you could change one thing about the business environment in which you work, what would it be?
Fragmentation of the UK print industry compared to other capital-intensive industries makes it tough to understand the market – there are around 400 dedicated UK labelling companies – and it’s hard to understand what your competitors are doing.

 

Royston Labels

The 58-staff company in Hertfordshire rolls out 300 million labels a year, mostly highly decorative for high-end brands in cosmetics and personal care but also for wines and spirits and pharmaceuticals. The company, celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. Marketing manager Stephanie Rogers explains more.

How has business been for your company in the past year?
Very good: this is a record year and we are growing very, very rapidly, by 300% in the last 15 years and by 52% in the last five.

What challenges are you facing?
The biggest by far is keeping pace with growth; we will be expanding into new premises and moving all of our operations at the end of the year to give us the additional capacity we need.

What do you see as the biggest market opportunity for labels in 2014?
The need for differentiation and brands to stand out on the shelf throws up big opportunities for label manufacturers to produce more decorative labels and invest in technology.

What do you see as the key developments in packaging formats at present?
People are getting savvy about the different effects that can be combined on labels, such as silky backgrounds and metallic foil, but they have to beware of false dawns. There was lot of fuss about augmented reality labels a year ago, which have novelty value but won’t yet become standard.

How has your client base changed over the years?
We have had a fairly consistent client base; generally the market is seeing fewer smaller companies and more large clients but some of our customers have been with us for 30 years, which is good to see.

What is the most unusual project you’ve worked on?
Too many to mention; we’ve done labels on metallic backgrounds with solid black and crisp lines,  and we’ve used tactile lamination to give a raised, embossed fell.

If you could change one thing about the business environment in which you work, what would it be?
I would like to get rid of the stigma that labels aren’t glamorous – because we are in the packaging industry people don’t get excited.

Denny Bros

Based in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, Denny Bros claims to be the originator of multi-page labels, such as Fix-a-Form, used on a variety of products across sectors including FMCG. Its purpose-built pharmaceutically accredited base handles in-house or off-site hire projects in the healthcare sector. Sales and marketing director Stephen Jarrold spoke to Packaging News.

How has business been for your companyin the past year?
We are noticing a clear shift in the way business is being done: order numbers are up but volumes are drastically reduced. The word from our clients is that financial caution has changed the way stock is being managed.

What challenges are you facing?
Forecasting is much shorter term and labels are ordered to a strict understanding of what product can actually be sold ‘now’. That said, Denny Bros are able to produce in quantities of a few hundred for specialist clinical trial products or multi-millions on FMCGs.


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