In its 95th year, LC Packaging continues to demonstrate the innovation and drive that has cemented it as the industry leader we see today
Writer: Phoebe Calver
Project Manager: Vivek Valmiki
In the year that LC Packaging celebrates its 95th anniversary in the industry, there are many reasons to celebrate a meteoric rise to multinational status which now comprises more than 1,100 employees and a €170 million turnover in 2017.
LC Packaging is a family business through and through and that is one aspect that has been retained since it was first established in the Netherlands. Now in its fourth generation, the Company has grown extensively from its initial operations in the purchase, sale and modification of jute bags.
“Both our range of services and our footprint have expanded considerably since the early days of our Company, however, it is still centred around the packaging industry,” explains the Regional Director for Southern Africa, Richard Green. “We have grown from an importer of packaging, to a well-respected manufacturer and distributor with four of our own manufacturing facilities in 16 countries spread across Europe, Asia and Africa, with our head office still located in the Netherlands.”
The Company has remained true to its roots as a committed, reliable and loyal packaging entity, while also never being afraid to reinvent itself as a trail-blazer in the industry.
The Director continues: “Making a move from a distributor role to that of a producer was key in completing the loop between understanding the customers’ requirements, and the production partners’ limitations in finding ways to bring the two closer together.
“We have had a constant obsession with quality and the strict adherence to UN protocol in regard to the transportation of hazardous goods, as well as the resources to invest in state-of-the-art equipment that has ensured LC Packaging is the supplier of choice when it comes to bulk packaging of high-value commodities.”
With a production facility in South Africa, warehousing in Namibia and Northern Zambia, an office in the Ivory Coast and representation in North Africa, the Company has the perfect footprint to service the bulk packaging needs of the African continent.
“The ability to achieve this has stemmed from building long-term partnerships with both our customers and production partners alike,” adds Green. “We certainly prefer to develop and grow in a unified manner, sustainably and over a long period of time.
“Our customers are predominantly blue-chip and due to that fact, health & safety is at the top of their list of priorities.”
With that in mind, LC Packaging has made significant strides in fabrics used for the packaging process and is now widely regarded as a leader in the field.
“The advances we have made that utilise a variety of baffle solutions, mean that we are able to offer a variety of products with a near perfect profile to improve and maximise transportation efficiencies,” continues Green. “Our facilities are also able to offer food-safe and pharma-clean environments that are state-of-the-art within the industry, meeting FSSC, SA8000 and ISO22000 certified production facilities that few producers can match.”
Identifying new markets
LC Packaging’s African entity covers South, West, Central and North Africa, through to offices in Johannesburg a production facility in Pietermaritzburg and Warehousing in DRC, Zambia and Namibia.
“We understand that it is incredibly important to be in close proximity to our customers, which is why we don’t hesitate to invest in warehousing facilities or shy-away from opening in areas that other companies might avoid,” affirms Green. “We don’t view Geography as an obstacle, but instead an opportunity.
“When it comes to identifying new industries, our team is constantly analysing the bulk packaging requirements of the market and will subsequently present solutions when we believe that we have a package that will reduce the total cost of ownership. We are fortunate in our ability to draw on a wide range of production partners that are able to assist us in exploring various alternatives, while also pushing the boundaries.”
During its 95 years of experience, LC Packaging has been fully embraced as a partner by an abundance of companies operating throughout Africa. Initially the Company was viewed by many as a distributor of high-quality products, however, since investing in production capacity and warehousing in Africa has been embraced by the industry.
The Company also has a production facility located in Bangladesh that supplies Africa having recently embarked on an expansion project; it will increase the capacity extensively and this additional capacity will be targeted towards more complex markets.
“The aforementioned project started in November, 2017 and is on schedule for completion by January, 2019,” explains the Director. “Upon completion the development of these operations will have created more than 500 new jobs, 300 of which are specifically for women.
“Our operations in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, has also completed phase one of its expansion project, resulting in the doubling of the available capacity. This was achieved through a mixture of capital expenditure, as well as the creation of employment for a further 65 individuals within the facility.”
The next expansion phase of the facility is already underway, in which capacity looks set to double again. This stage of the project will be more capital intensive but will still result in the requirement of a further 40 employees.
Green continues: “The third expansion phase is still being kept relatively quiet although it has been fully planned and looks set to be implemented towards the end of 2019 or early 2020. We are incredibly excited by this phase as not only will it result in further employment, but will also positively impact our input costs while also ensuring that we are 100 percent in control of our supply chain.”
The employees at LC Packaging are a pivotal component to the success witnessed by the Company, with the technical staff playing a particularly prominent role.
“A large part of the manufacturing process within our Company involves sewing,” adds Green. “It is an art and this skill is immensely valued at LC Packaging. We spend a lot of time, effort and money on the training required to retain this skill for our future.
“Our business model is unique, and we believe that is a testament to the integrity of our organisation, as we are able to be a successful producer with production partners worldwide and the ability to distribute throughout Europe and Africa.”
The Company has access to a plethora of information that keeps it at the cutting edge of technology and ensures it remains true to its central philosophy of supplying high-quality and safe products to the market.
“We are constantly building upon our eight central strengths with an international approach and local support,” concludes Green. “We have a strong sustainability policy, our own production, dedicated production partners, an innovative approach to packaging, an in-house quality control department; and we have been a leading player since 1923, as well as a financially stable partner that builds long-term partnerships with our stakeholders.
“With particular reference to our African operations during the next few years, we hope to have unveiled the third phase of our expansion programme which will provide us with a truly exciting and world-class development.”