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LR’s reclaiming its crown

Over the last three years, speculation about the health of LR Plastics has been rife in the marketplace. Scaremongers, it seems, have been having a field day. However, it’s now time to put the rumours to bed.

Besides providing an unequivocal assurance that it’s a matter of ‘business as usual’, group CEO Byron le Roux reveals that he and his team have made a fresh round of operational improvements, and have bravely changed the corporate identity to LR|flexible packaging.

‘Several adjustments have taken place, including launching our new corporate identity, which we believe truly reflects our core operation,’ Byron explains.

He and his father, Dudley le Roux, who founded LR Plastics in 1976, have been assisted in this latest restructuring project by Louis Klopper, who joined LR’s executive two years ago. Using his impressive background in the corporate sector, his first objective was to review the business structure, address potential trouble spots and identify growth opportunities.

‘From the outset, it was critical to see the big picture,’ says Louis. ‘With an outsider’s view I was able to identify key areas requiring attention in LR’s day-to-day operations, helping the owners to formulate an appropriate strategy.’

Using his financial expertise, Louis has been instrumental in establishing a control system across all departments that’s now contributing to improved efficiencies and profitability.

‘We have new ways of doing things and, while some employees resisted the change, most have embraced the opportunity to move forward with a fresh approach. Above all, maintaining our core values of integrity, transparency, passion, professionalism, quality and service remain top priority,’ relates Byron le Roux.

Adding value

LR’s ‘blue skies’ five-year strategy is based on providing products that deliver value, quality and consistency across all market sectors and in all regions, including exports.

‘As a supplier of flexible packaging to global consumer goods manufacturers, we have to provide predictable quality and service at all times,’ remarks Byron. ‘One of the many ways in which we’re achieving this, and setting ourselves apart from our competitors, is by creating partnerships that deliver value and cost savings.’

Providing superior tailor-made films and packaging to meet specific needs requires substantial R&D work; and here Byron is backed by business development managers and a highly-experienced R&D team, who conduct in-depth assessments in conjunction with brand owners.

‘We can’t be all things to all people, so we’re teaming up with valued clients who share our business philosophy and long-term goals,’ Byron continues. ‘Essentially, achieving preferred supplier status is not about being the cheapest but is about providing value and the right total package approach.’

Measurable processes

All QC programmes measure, monitor and record any variables in LR’s processes and transform data into useful information that can be acted upon promptly.

‘We manage a complex process with many factors that can influence quality, but with real-time measurement and adjustments, we’re achieving predictable quality standards,’ Byron insists. ‘Other cost-reduction projects include waste management, raw material management, productivity and work in progress optimisation, efficiency and utilisation of equipment, and ink cost management.’

Quality, health and safety procedures are supported by an electronic system that protects the health and safety of personnel, customers and the community; identifies possible risks and reduces potential hazards; and minimises any detrimental impact on the environment.

BBBEE compliance with a SANAS rating of level 4 has also been achieved.

Food grade certification

Some 22 years ago, LR was South Africa’s first flexible packaging company to gain  ISO 9001 accreditation. In recognition of this achievement, Byron and the team recently received a 20-year loyalty award from the SABS.

LR is also proudly British Retail Consortium (BRC) and ISO 22000 compliant, both internationally recognised food-grade health and safety packaging standards.

‘The benefit of these systems is prevention of the potential risk of contamination throughout the converting process,’ remarks Byron. ‘This eliminates a real concern for our clients in respect of the Consumer Protection Act and the possibility of expensive product recalls,’ he continues. ‘We decided to apply for both as our packaging is displayed in retail outlets throughout Europe. While most UK retailers recognise BRC certification, certain European chains prefer ISO 22000.’

Perhaps one of the most important considerations for the long-term sustainability of any manufacturing enterprise is protecting and conserving the environment. On this score, LR complies with global workplace accountability standards, upholding the vision of three internationally-recognised rating authorities – SEDEX (Supplier Ethical Data Exchange), STR (Specialised Technology Resources) and Intertek – who assess the status, measurement and improvement of ethical and responsible business practices in the global supply chain.

‘All our packaging is designed to reduce impact on natural resources and, besides our standard processes, we’re approved to convert d2w, an additive that accelerates the decomposition of plastic films,’ says Byron. ‘Our annual carbon footprint savings represent 1 343 tons, an improvement of 9% year-on-year. What’s more, a partnership with a local service provider allows us to recover and dispose of waste in an environmentally-friendly manner,’ he adds.

‘By building and improving on our tried-and-tested quality procedures, processes and products with strategic improvements, we continue to create a positive awareness in the market place. This has been our biggest restructuring project to date, and I’m delighted that our team is on board. Everything’s falling into place!’

Ministerial approval

During a recent visit to LR|flexible packaging, Minister of Economic Development, Ebrahim Patel, confirmed government’s commitment to economic growth, job creation and export promotion, and praised LR’s business initiatives.

‘Tailor-making products to suit specific needs and ensuring maximum value and efficiencies in the production environment is the epitome of a globally-respected company,’ he declared.

In his view, LR’s commitment to quality and service is underlined by its global food safety accreditation in support of customers’ export drives, and lays a firm foundation for export development and growth in association with leading food and beverage producers who have established markets throughout Africa and the EU.

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