‘After much debate and creative effort, we decided to rename the company Cibapac,’ comments MD, Ivan Ortlepp. ‘This heralds a new beginning while retaining the essence of our business, namely our red branding and specialisation in quality food packaging. The name “Ciba” is derived from “cibus”, meaning “food” in Latin or Italian.’
Cibapac, based on a large factory campus in Cape Town’s Montague Gardens, primarily services the meat and fresh produce sectors. It is the largest manufacturer of PVC stretch/cling film in South Africa, and has a major share of the expanded polystyrene (EPS) tray market for fresh produce, meat and fast foods. The company is also the leading local manufacturer of multi-layered, seamless casings for polonies and, of late, has made significant inroads into MAP (modified atmosphere packaging) and flexible APET base and lidding for the fresh meat sector.
CAPTION: Partners in the launch of Cibapac: Lloyd White (financial director, Cibapac), Paul Leafwright (MD, Leaf Private Equity), Harish Metha (chairman, Clearwater Capital and Cibapac), Adam Bekker (director, Leaf Private Equity), Greg Heron (MD, Clearwater Capital) and Ivan Ortlepp (MD, Cibapac).
Ivan Ortlepp describes the creation of Cibapac as extremely positive: ‘This is a great opportunity for the South African business as it frees us up to trade beyond our past parameters, to move ahead in bringing innovation to South Africa and establish partnerships with other international players,’ he says.
He notes this flexibility has never been more important than under current market conditions: ‘As consumer demand fluctuates in the recession it means that packaging vendors have to be ever more creative and innovative in finding solutions that not only reduce costs for customers but which also offer points of differentiation out in the retail marketplace.’
Ivan, who will remain MD, has guided Cibapac through some challenging times since joining the company early in 2007, including a highly-competitive market and the economic downturn.
‘With a core team of dedicated staff, we have met these challenges and the company has enjoyed two years of positive growth,’ he comments. ‘We’ve had particular success in bringing new products to the fore and in growing our market share – and we intend to continue along this path, not only with imports, but also by maximising our own outstanding production facilities that are manned by long-serving and skilled technical personnel.’
Successful product launches in the recent past have included the first local manufacture of clear APET trays for modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) in the meat industry, which is a key trend in the sector for shelf appeal and extended shelf life, and the launch of APET rollstock that has won major market share among meat and produce packers. Future plans include offering printed shrink pouches and tray lidding with customer-specific designs.
EPS back in favour
Ivan points out that EPS (expanded polystryene), a long-standing product line, is also moving back into favour in Europe after years of opposition from environmentalists, thanks to its low cost, low mass and research proving that it has the lowest carbon footprint of any packaging polymer. He says several large European and American retailers have given EPS the nod to come back into their folds.
Cibapac has a good relationship with its former UK parent with whom it has concluded a technical support agreement to ensure a smooth handover of the South African operations. Ivan notes that during the negotiation and transition phase it has been business as usual for Cibapac’s 320 staff at Montague Gardens and at the company’s seven distribution centres around the country.
‘The transition of ownership is seldom painless. This transaction, however, has run extremely smoothly and there has been minimal interruption to our day-to-day activities. I am grateful to our management and staff for their support and dedication throughout the negotiation period. We are also fortunate to have partners who have operated with transparency and integrity to speed up the change-over phase,’ he concludes.
Commenting on the deal, Adam Bekker of Leaf Private Equity says as partners they seek to back management and are excited about Cibapac’s growth prospects: ‘The transaction means retaining and creating employment and involves a substantial injection of equity into the business. It’s great that Cibapac is now 100% South African owned and the business is poised to flourish.’
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