Outsource and excel

29 July 2016

Outsource and excel

Outsource and excel

Using contract packaging, brands can concentrate on what they do best – creating and selling a desirable product – while leaving the task of packaging their wares up to the experts that have the right equipment and know-how. Emma-Jane Batey explores how all parties can get the best results from this mutually beneficial relationship, speaking with contract packagers Jean-Michel Moll of Laboratoires Kosmeto and Expac’s Mark Langtree.

Packaging plays an increasingly important role in a product's success, but high-quality equipment doesn't come cheap – and the space and skills needed to get the best out of it can dwarf any company. This is where contract packaging partners step up to the mark: specialists in packaging products of all shapes and sizes, they offer solutions that suit the product and add value. Contract packaging companies are an integral part of a brand's business

A long-established and highly respected trade association, the British Contract Manufacturers and Packers Association (BCMPA) represents a wide range of brand-owners, retailers and manufacturers across the contract packaging sector. As well as contract packaging, members' activities include contract manufacturing, filling, fulfilment, logistics and supply chain management, with businesses across many industry sectors.

Emma Verkaik, director of new member development at BCMPA, explains, “One of the main reasons potential members initially get in touch with us is that they've assessed their business and want to know what else they can do to stand out from the crowd. Joining BCMPA gives members access to a whole host of experts in their fields, including marketing, brand development, design and manufacture. By helping to connect them with carefully matched outsourcing partners, we give them more visibility in a crowded market.”


A partner you trust

BCMPA has recently relaunched its website with improved search functionality, with the aim of making it easier for member contract packagers to be found by those brand-owners looking for a partner.

Verkaik continues, “We work with our members in a number of ways, all focused on engaging and promoting their activities with potential customers. We attend numerous events and exhibitions at which we connect with potential members and touch base with existing ones.” She cites BCMPA’s sponsorship of the Contract Packer of the Year Award, a coveted prize at the annual UK Packaging Awards and “a great opportunity for our members to network and meet new people”.

 “We know that the contract packaging business is not a desperately fast-paced one when it comes to winning projects,” Verkaik admits, “which is why we stay in close contact with our members to support their growth and long-term development, so that they are ready to roll when the orders come in.”

The Contract Packer of the Year Award was most recently won by Preston-based Expac, a BCMPA member. A contract manufacturer focused on the household, health, beauty and toiletries sectors, Expac’s flexibility sets it apart from the competition. With a low marketing and business-development budget, Expac has succeeded through what it calls 'referral by reputation', with every customer coming through referral and its website boasting “no cold calls, no trade shows and no pushy marketing, just an outstanding reputation for quality products, people and service”.

A family-owned business established by Brian Langtree in 1980, Expac is today operated by his son, Mark Langtree, who has maintained the British manufacturer through “good times and challenging times” alike.

“Our management team has over 300 years of combined experience and we love to share that with our customers,” says the junior Langtree. We're all about providing reliable, flexible solutions with a personal touch. Our customer base ranges from multimillionaire multinationals to brand-owners working from home. That's why it's great to work with a contract packaging partner like us: we can be whatever you need us to be. We specialise in working closely with our customers to help build their brands and grow their profits. We get a buzz out of providing solutions quickly and effectively.”

Expac achieves this speed and flexibility thanks to a well-equipped manufacturing facility that includes manual and automated packing lines, an in-house development unit, liquid-filling lines, a powder-mixing facility, and shrink-sleeve machines.


 Start-up for success

Contract packaging is a smart choice for brand-owners of all stature and status. BCMPA believes it gives brands “a much easier life”, and new men's personal care brand Wingman agrees. Headed by entrepreneur Stu Jolley, Wingman, a “British brand that combines lifestyle and performance to deliver awesome grooming products for men”, was established in 2009 when Jolley wanted to offer a men's grooming brand that wasn't simply a women’s brand with “for men” tacked on the packaging, he says. This led him to develop a high-quality range of no-nonsense products that “do exactly what men need them to do with no compromise on quality”.

Wingman's packaging is a reflection of the brand's ‘no-nonsense’ identity, with easy-to-use closures, grey and silver colouring and clear information. Manufactured by Suffolk-based plastic contract manufacturer M&H Plastics alongside the Wingman creative lab, the brief of 'be different' has certainly been achieved. The foil-wrapped tubes have helped to create a dynamic on -shelf identity that encourages men to engage with the brand.

Stu Jolley explains, “We are a motivational brand, challenging the norms and enabling men to adopt a regime that is specifically for them. I wanted to work with a reliable company that really knows what it’s about. M&H gave me that. In the tradition of the wingman, who ‘always has your back’, M&H provided that support and reliability.”


 Quality reigns

It is not just start-ups and newer companies that benefit from working with contract packaging partners, however. Famous French pharmacy brand Nuxe (available in the UK in Boots and Marks & Spencer), founded in 1990, has long chosen Laboratoires Kosmeto as its packaging provider. Nuxe founder Aliza Jabès is clear that she wanted to focus on the “natural luxury” of the brand and create a team of experienced professionals that could each be dedicated to their own area of expertise. Working with a carefully chosen contract packager made perfect sense.

Receiver of a number of awards for its innovative products, Nuxe chose Kosmeto for “its parallel focus on high-quality cosmetic, hair and beauty products, and its dedication to made-to-order packaging”. Kosmeto, known for being “discreet and dynamic”, is something of a ‘silent’ packaging partner, allowing brand-owners to focus on what they do best while having a reliable packaging provider at hand. Based in Harnes, France, it is a regular at international trade fairs for the beauty and cosmetics sector, where it highlights its ability to deliver “a broad range of full-service private-label manufacturing solutions”.

Jean-Michel Moll, Kosmeto's general manager, says of its business model, “Thanks to the enthusiasm and expertise of our staff, we have a fast turnaround time for new product ranges. Full service is essential because it guarantees that the customer gets a top-quality product, from the technical perspective of formulation and packaging, and from a regulatory perspective. We exercise strict control to ensure that our products comply with quality standards and customer specifications, and that they are delivered on time and in accordance with confidentiality requirements.”

Moll also noted that the demand for French-made cosmetics and beauty products is seeing a huge boost worldwide, particularly the US and the Middle East, with Kosmeto's experience in developing internationally suitable packaging one of the feathers in its cap. He adds, “Our packaging units are equipped with the latest packaging machinery. We have fully automated, high-performance machines that can handle short, medium and long runs, with the ability to customise each customer's request in our highly flexible printing workshop.”


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