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Pakistan Paper Products expands

Pakistan Paper Products’ factory in Karachi

Pakistan Paper Products, founded in 1951, began printing pressure-sensitive labels in 1997 under the brand name Pro Labels. Today it is the largest printer of pressure-sensitive labels in Pakistan, consuming over 5.5 million sqm of paper and filmic labelstock annually, and serving only the local market.

While the company’s first investment was a 10in 5-color Mark Andy 830 press, today it runs four 8-color presses – two Nilpeter FB3300, a Mark Andy Performance Series P3, and a Mark Andy Evolution – as well as a 10-color Gallus ECS 340 and one 6-color KDO press. 

The latest addition was the 8-color Mark Andy Evolution press, which was remotely installed during the Covid-19 pandemic with the help of local engineers. Support was provided via video conference by a Mark Andy technician in the UK. Abid Sayeed, chief executive at Pakistan Paper Products, says: ‘We always add a machine when we have run out of capacity or need to modernize for new and innovative labels. For instance, we invested in a Gallus ECS 340 10-color press with two screen units in 2017 to fulfil a major requirement of Unilever haircare products. The Mark Andy Evolution was added to enhance our general capacity as we were constantly running at maximum capacity and beyond. This machine is now full and we are again running at maximum capacity.’

Pakistan Paper Products is focused on high added-value labels in homecare, haircare and skin care segments and fulfils all requirements of FMCG customers in Pakistan. Auto lubricants is yet another high-volume business for the company as it supplies to all the leading oil marketing companies in Pakistan.

While the company focuses on high-value labels, Sayeed reveals that the overall label printing industry in Pakistan is still at a nascent stage. ‘We are right now playing catch up in terms of volumes and availability of print technologies compared to the rest of the world. We expect the local label industry in Pakistan to grow at a rapid pace in the future as we see high growth in self-adhesive labels in the country. In-mold labels and shrink sleeves are growing too, but we are focused only on self-adhesive labels and are struggling to fulfil the growing volume despite adding machines to enhance capacity,’ he says. 

‘In terms of sustainability, however, we have not yet reached the stage where those are vital and important goals at this time. Even so, there are clear environment laws in the country according to which we have to treat the waste in a proper manner before disposing it,’ Sayeed adds.

Pandemic impact 
Turning to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Sayeed says: ‘At this point we do not see any major negative long-term implications in the label industry and continue to see positive growth in our business. Demand for home care and personal care products is dramatically on the rise and we see this continuing for the foreseeable future.

‘During the pandemic, we had finance, human resources and sales staff come to the head office on rotation basis to keep the head count low. In our factory, workers were trained to use masks and gloves where possible. Better hygiene was impressed upon by everyone and sanitizers were made available so that workers could continuously sanitize their hands.’

Like most of the world, Pakistan’s economy contracted for the first time in 68 years due to the pandemic. However, Sayeed says: ‘The overall print and packaging industry has done quite well during this period as demand for home care, personal care, skin care products and pharmaceuticals have gone up dramatically and this has more than offset the reduction in demand for sectors such as auto lubricants which is a big part of our business.’ 

Although, like in most countries, managing the supply chain has been a big challenge in Pakistan too, Sayeed concludes: ‘While we have faced some shortages, overall it was nothing major as we shifted our buying to Asia when the pandemic was at its peak in Europe.’