Read later

Jindal Films Europe prepares for the future

Jindal Films Europe CEO Oliver Bruns outlines the material supplier’s entrepreneurial spirit and how it is helping position the company for future growth.

Founded in 2013 following the acquisition of ExxonMobil’s global BOPP films business by Jindal Poly Films Ltd, itself part of the diversified BC Jindal Group, Jindal Films Europe is a business serving Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific. Its main markets are labels and flexible packaging, for which it manufactures a range of materials, from multi-layer clear, white opaque and metallized films to water-based coated films.

Oliver Bruns took up the position of CEO in May last year to help grow the business beyond its position as a supplier of BOPP films, positioning the company as a fast-growing specialty films business. In part, this is in response to the state of the industry, especially for BOPP, where he identifies capacity as ‘all over the place’ with supply and demand ‘out of balance’.

‘The market is oversupplied with commodity films from all over the world flooding the market and prices are a disaster. You quickly run into trouble trying to make money off commodity films and the only way to make money is to do something different. Otherwise how do you finance the future?

‘Innovations often take years to implement, and while the cost is not at the very high end, they are expensive. If you’ve not got a strong base to finance building up an innovation pipeline, where do you go? We have a foundation on which we can build and invest. We invest more than most in R&D, and have a strong track record for innovation and new products. We want to be leading the market in terms of R&D, as well as size.’

Entrepreneurial spirit

The desire to lead the market is driven by Bruns’ mindset to tackle issues and projects head on. He advocates a less structured approach to R&D and new product development, preferring to try and fail than not try at all. ‘If I know there’s a product on the shelf and a market opportunity, I can’t sleep. Honestly, I’m not that interested in the last digit of the business case. Ask “how realistic is the opportunity?” and if you believe in it, go for it. I’d rather give something a try, see where the limitations are and resolve them, learning on the way, than wait for our competitors to come to market first.

‘The outcome is sometimes different to what you start with but you never get anywhere if you constantly block yourself.’

This creates an environment where people are able to propose ideas and are open to discussions, which, says Bruns, ‘builds a network of innovation within the company that helps a lot’, while having a flat organizational structure means taking ideas from the drawing board to concept, and beyond, is simplified. Jindal Films Europe is not restricted by extensive analysis of market conditions before moving on an idea.

‘The flexible packaging and label market is very dynamic, and we need to be dynamic to match it. We don’t think in hierarchies and I don’t believe in a rigid structure. Sometimes you have to react.’

Product development

So far, this strategy has served Jindal Films Europe well, with more than 60 development projects in advanced stages, with new products already brought to market including Digilyte, a new brand designed specifically for HP Indigo digital presses and end users. Digilyte films offer protection, packaging line performance and printability on HP Indigo digital presses.

Bruns identifies digital as key area of interest for Jindal Films Europe and its development cycle, although it will not be confining its R&D to one digital process. ‘Everyone is jumping on digital, including us. Digital will continue to strengthen its position in labels and packaging. Some technologies will be better suited to certain applications than others, but all will have a place somewhere; we want to be ready for them all – EP, inkjet, even nanography.’ 

Another new product is SealTough, a unique coextruded packaging film targeted to replace sealant layers in a lamination or single layers in mono-web applications. This product is claimed to provide ‘unmatched’ puncture resistance, in addition to enhanced clarity, improved modulus and seal strength that can exceed 5,000g/2.54cm. This allows the potential to downgauge by 30 percent, 40 percent or more compared to traditional sealant films.

Products such as Digilyte, SealTough and Platinum Thermal, a white, surface-printable polyolefin film that can replace both coated direct thermal substrates and thermal transfer ribbons, mean Jindal Films Europe is supplying a wider variety of segments and applications, and seeking to take market share from a growing pool of competitors, such as those supplying thermal transfer ribbons and cast/blown polypropylene films, and not just its BOPP peers. In fact, Bruns is at pains to point out that the company no longer presents itself as purely a BOPP company.

‘Lots of our new products are non-polypropylene-based as we look to create solutions, and establish a broad portfolio and full product offering to compete in many different areas and take market share above the industry growth rate.’

Partnerships

Key to entering new segments and bringing innovations to market is collaboration between stakeholders across the supply chain. This ensures products are fit for purpose, such as being receptive to the applicable print process; meeting the requirements of the application, such as food safety; and being able to run on packaging lines.

Jindal Films Europe has joined the HP Indigo Pack Ready program, a set of post-print technologies for HP Indigo digital presses that enable digital converters to print, laminate and pack on demand for immediate time-to-market. Pack Ready, much like the larger HP Indigo partner network or Xeikon’s Aura Partner Network, includes companies throughout the supply chain who collaborate to deliver new tools to label and packaging printers.

‘No longer can you develop a product and take it to market independently of the rest of the supply chain,’ says Bruns. ‘Rather, you need to go market with a total package and a solution that works in its entirety. As a converter, you don’t want to have to speak to the material supplier, ink manufacturer and hardware vendor to understand the capabilities and implications of the product you’re being sold. Rather, it needs to work outright, and provide an optimized option that will improve a converter’s operations and efficiencies.’

Agile

Bruns’ ideas and management style are designed to make Jindal Films Europe as agile as possible, coupling an entrepreneurial spirit with the backbone and resources of a global company. 

‘We want to be able to move fast and try to have lean processes to allow us to capitalize on our market position, and grow our reach and share. With the trend from rigid to flexible packaging, and from glass to plastic packaging, we occupy a sweet spot.

‘It is a capital intensive business though, so having the resources and backing of shareholders to be entrepreneurial is a key ingredient of our very positive growth story so far, and we want this to continue. We are not ignoring the commodity market either, rather developing a broad and balanced portfolio to serve the flexible packaging and label market effectively.’

David Pittman

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Pittman is former deputy editor of Labels & Labeling.

See author’s profile »