Indeed, Propak East Africa, which attracted 90 exhibitors from 19 countries and 2 235 visitors, was charged with positivity. The message was clear to all – to grow business in the region you need to deliver market-related products, reliable systems and qualified local support.
‘This year has been a sell-out show, attracting visitors and exhibitors from across the globe,’ affirms Alexander Angus, Montgomery regional director – East Africa. ‘This proves that last year’s results were tangible and that our format is a success. Judging by the complimentary feedback received, there’s a bright future for the show.’
Taking cognisance of local trends
Armor Africa, a subsidiary of the global Armor group, specialises in the production of high-quality inked films used in thermal transfer technology for barcodes, logos, use-by dates and batch numbers on labels or directly on flexible packaging. Having opened a manufacturing plant in South Africa, MD, Andrew Fosbrook, and general manager, Roland Pinz, are hoping to expand their reseller network into East Africa.
‘Already a well-known brand in Africa, Armor combines quality with competitive pricing,’ comments Andrew. ‘What we’ve realised from talking to visitors is that we mustn’t assume that the market is similar to South Africa’s; understanding local practices is a must. By doing so, and promoting our manufacturing strengths, I’m confident we’re in a favourable position to guarantee the supply of market-related products in quick turnaround times.’
All in a day’s work
Acepak’s strategy of providing compact and ergonomic machines with simple and reliable mechanics and cutting-edge control technology is proving a winning formula in the East African packaging industry. And, with the cooperation of its Kenya-based partner, KEP Services, the group has already installed dozens of machines across the region. ‘From our entry-level systems to our crème de la crème turnkey projects, much of our success rests on good, old-fashioned customer service and solid relationships,’ reports Acepak director, Justin Tomsett. ‘We’ve partnered with KEP Services for several years and the local team’s industry knowledge has proved invaluable. Our customers want to know that we’re committed and our strategy has succeeded.’
Besides numerous promising leads resulting frin the show, KEP Services also sold Acepak’s demonstration machine. ‘Good show, great result,’ are Justin’s parting words.
Extending a regional footprint
Owned and managed by Kevin Allan and sons, Brett and Marc, Barkev offers an array of printing and packaging consumables and equipment to the African community.
This was the team’s first visit to Propak East Africa, and, judging by the steady flow of visitors at the stand, most successful.
‘We’re already doing good business in Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi, so Propak provided us with an ideal opportunity to touch base with our local partners and make fresh connections to assist us in widening our reach in East Africa,’ remarks Kevin. ‘We also welcomed the chance to engage in one-on-one discussions with local industry players about their particular challenges and expectations.’
Established 28 years ago in Durban, Barkev has established a solid reputation for providing no-nonsense advice on all aspects of tooling and consumables. Most recently, a mini-factory in Spartan, Johannesburg, and another business property in Cape Town have been acquired, expanding operations in these regions and improving order turnaround and service delivery.
Pumped-up for success
‘This is our first trip to Kenya and I’m delighted with the quality of visitors we’ve received,’ comments Busch Vacuum Pump MD, Sean Pieterse.
‘Besides raising brand awareness we’ve gained some excellent leads and met some top-notch potential partners. In the long term, we’d like to extend our distributor network in the region, especially in the printing and packaging sector. Building the right relationships in Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda will form part of that overall strategy.’
Busch is one of the world’s largest suppliers of vacuum pumps, liquid ring vacuum pumps and over pressure blowers, designed and constructed in Switzerland and Germany, and offers world-class support through centres of excellence in the UK and the Netherlands.
Partners for growth
According to GEA statistics, every fourth litre of milk worldwide is extracted or further processed using GEA equipment. In East Africa, GEA has a strong presence in the milk and juice processing sectors, providing world-class service and support.
Based in Nairobi, business development manager, Erick Juma, stresses the importance of getting involved at grass-root level to cement firm business relationships.
‘Besides multinational milk and soft drink brands, East Africa supports a network of smaller independent business owners who are serious about creating quality products,’ Erick says.
‘Providing them with processing technologies to suit their needs and creating a collaborative partnership is what counts, and we’re finding lots of success with our Easyline range.’
According to Erick, those businesses that start from a small base can grow into large, national entities and GEA can offer a solution for every size operation. ‘What’s more, our local office has the full support of our South African and European counterparts, some of whom have joined us at Propak. They possess an unrivalled depth of experience in our processes and market trends.’
Erick sums up: ‘We used our presence at Propak East Africa to reignite existing relationships with local manufacturers and gain more information on exciting young enterprises looking for the right processing partner. And I’m pleased to report that we’ve had some excellent results!’
Smart systems from Gebo Cermex
For more than 50 years, Gebo Cermex has been helping to improve the performance of processing and packaging lines in some of the world’s most demanding industries, installing more than 37 000 systems, including pasteurisers, crate and bottle washers. case packing, shrink-wrapping, conveying and palletising lines.
Says Africa account manager, Giorgio Rossi, ‘Our goal is to add value to customers’ businesses in four dimensions – from equipment design and manufacture to line engineering, services and asset performance. Our strength lies in the depth of our market and engineering expertise.’
With a proliferation of metal packaging in Africa, GEA’s systems and services are well-entrenched among leading food and beverage manufacturers.
‘However,’ Georgio comments, ‘there are still many opportunities for growth and I’m pleased to say we’ve connected with some dynamic independent business owners who are looking to upgrade or automate unproductive or inefficient packaging lines.’
KBA creates a stir
Already active in Africa’s growing flexible packaging market, Koenig & Bauer (KBA), in conjunction with regional sales partner, Gazelle, took advantage of the three-day show to arrange in-depth talks with packaging printers in the fast-developing East Africa market.
Numerous packaging printers visited the stand, including heavyweights such as Nampak East Africa, keen to learn more about KBA’s flexographic and sheetfed offset presses, notably the B2 Rapida 75 and the medium-format Rapida 105.
A ten-colour Rapida 105, configured for five-over-five printing, has already gone into operation at Print Point in Nairobi, and other users are considering investing in this versatile press.
Strategic local alliance
Nilpeter East Africa used Propak to announce the news of its joining forces in the region with Alphasonics and Sandon Global, ESS Technologies, Meech and Grafotronics.
‘There’s substantial investment in East Africa, with local converters opting for globally-recognised technologies,’ asserts Nilpeter East Africa MD, Henrik Wollesen. ‘The market wants a one-stop, trustworthy supplier and, with the synergies that exist between ourselves and our international partners, we’re already making excellent progress.’
Meeting visitors at the Nilpeter stand were representatives from Alphasonics and Sandon Global. Like Nilpeter, both companies have a significant footprint in the African market.
‘With our combined expertise we offer our African customers the convenience of a local service, combined with the resources and technologies of world-class business partners,’ affirms Robert Blythin, sales manager for Sandon Global Africa.
Promoting premium packs
Attending Propak East Africa for a second time, Keith Dilkes, Polyoak Packaging’s export sales manager, is delighted with current business and new enquiries emerging from the region.
‘East Africa has become less price driven,’ he notes. ‘High-end, niche dairy, food and detergent brands are starting to make an impression in-store, with a multitude of small- to
medium-sized businesses competing against the multinationals. They’re looking for top-quality packaging that will get noticed on-shelf and they’re turning to us for answers. The emphasis is on innovation, convenience and consumer safety and we can help in every aspect of building a winning brand – from concept to finished pack.’
According to Keith, supply and delivery is never an issue as Polyoak has the flexibility to provide standard lines in cost-effective minimum order volumes or to airfreight 40-ton containers of tailor-made stock if required.
Groundwork pays off
Making a first, fact-finding appearance at Propak was Tadbik, hose MD, Clinton Parsons, was joined on the stand by sales manager, Shivern Reddy.
Despite being fairly active in Kenya, the Tadbik team continues to build new contacts and investigate potential opportunities.
‘Discussions with visitors has uncovered a need for first-grade IML packaging, especially in the dairy and consumer goods markets,’ Clinton notes. ‘ We’ve also picked up enquiries for pouches and retort packaging; the latter not currently supplied by any local converter. I’m confident about East Africa and as long as we align with the right partners, we’ll continue to do well.’
[Ed’s note: Propak East Africa returns to Nairobi from March 7 to 9, 2017.]