Two heads better than one

19 May 2006

Against today’s tough trading backdrop, where maintaining that vital competitive edge is a key goal for retailers, brand owners and packaging suppliers alike, close collaboration with other supply chain partners to arrive at the best possible packaging solution would surely seem a given.

Of course sometimes, for instance when several packaging manufacturers are battling for the same supermarket business in a competitive pitch, and even sitting round the same table, there will be natural reluctance to share ideas, and thus cede the very competitive advantage which may tip the contract one company’s way.

However, listening to a representative from Sainsbury’s at an event organised by major glass packaging producer Rockware last month, where the day’s central theme was sharing ideas to enhance creativity, the vital role of good collaboration really hit home. Stuart Lendrum, the retailer’s manager, print and packaging, store brand and events, put it succinctly when he said: “There needs to be far more open dialogue between us, brand owners, and their packaging suppliers; too often communication is poor and we sometimes wonder whether packaging suppliers, who are naturally keen to bring innovation to the table, do so while working in a darkened room without thinking hard enough about whether their innovation will actually benefit the end customer. Good dialogue and collaboration is essential from the earliest point.”

The importance of collaboration is also strongly evident in our focus this month on the work of SCA Packaging in the retail-ready arena. Here the company’s head of marketing UK & Ireland Ben Blydenstein emphasises that only via improved communication and, again, better collaboration between retailer, FMCG company and converter can retail-ready packs be developed which will bring cost, efficiency and time savings and sales benefits to all parties. Clear messages then from two large enterprises - work with your customers and conversely your suppliers whenever possible – two heads are usually better than one.

Jonathan Baillie

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