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A mountain view and beyond for Boxmore Packaging

On the verge of celebrating its 21st anniversary, Boxmore Packaging has firmly established itself as the leading provider of rigid plastic packaging on the African continent and Indian Ocean Islands. Boasting big business capability with a family business touch, the manufacturer has become a formidable and trusted partner to the best brands.

Boxmore has grown significantly over recent years to nine manufacturing sites, and now exports to 26 African countries. While its vision is to always adapt and reinvent to an ever-changing industry dynamic, Boxmore values its mountain view from its plant in the Cape, where it services globally competitive brands such as Ina Paarman’s Kitchen, Global Grinders, La Vie du Luc, Appletiser, KWV, Distell and Johnson & Johnson.

This site started out in Belville in 2001 as a bottle blowing plant and around 2005, the first pre-form machine was installed. Production increased dramatically with the installation of two 72 cavity multi-layer machines in 2007, which produced varieties of barrier pre-forms for export (Papua New Guinea, Egypt and Nigeria).

This led to the development of some world firsts, including fully recyclable PGA barrier pre-forms. Boxmore achieved a global first when it added a recyclable barrier layer of PGA (polyglycolic acid) to PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) bottles to extend the shelf life of sensitive carbonated drinks without negatively impacting the recycling stream; barrier either retains CO2 (e.g. in carbonated softdrinks) or controls the ingress of oxygen (e.g. in beer or wine).

Locally this technology was first used by Appletiser with the introduction of the iconic 350ml PET bottles in 2011. Before long, this plant enhanced Boxmore’s capacity to convert more PET in its first year of operation than the entire market had consumed. And as the business grew and the site became too small, it relocated in 2012 to a Greenfields site in Somerset West (SSW).

By 2014 Boxmore acquired Hilfort Plastics and added single stage PET blowing and injection moulded closures to its offering, which increased the scale of the business and improved production efficiencies. Although the plant exports pre-forms to African countries (e.g. Namibia, Botswana) and Indian Ocean Islands, much of the business is Cape focused. Currently, the plant employs 130 staff and manufactures almost 400 million (386,000,000) units p.a. using various technologies including multi-layer preforms and bottles.

David Drew, Chief Commercial Officer at Boxmore shared, “It’s critical for us to have a presence in the Western Cape to remain competitive and service Cape-based customers adequately. And although critical mass can be an issue for smaller operations, Boxmore has offset this by creating a sustainable site through consolidation of the Hilfort operation into Boxmore. This site is also ideal for export business, which we’ve maximised by servicing the West Coast of Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands.”

Furthermore, not only is the SSW plant home to most of Boxmore’s technical talent, but the plant’s experience in multi-layer best positions the team to develop solutions for new applications in PET, e.g. beer, wine, spirits and pharmaceuticals. While the Cape provides a fertile environment for growth, the packaging industry is complex and competitive and some industry players have evidently felt the pressure of the economic slump.

It’s for this reason that Boxmore always looks for the next wave of growth.

“We assess the market and consumer behaviours, which provides a sense of were things are going, and affords us insights to deliver relevant customer solutions through understanding. This is best achieved by investing in growth, which we do to source new equipment, and expose production staff to various suppliers to stay abreast of technology and developments,” described Drew.

The macro economic factors identified by Boxmore as having an immediate impact on business includes;

• Growing middle class in Africa

• Correlating growth in FMCG based on GDP

• Conversion from other forms of packaging to PET

• Financially conservative consumer looking to economise

• Socially-conscious consumer who supports environmentally-friendly products

• Shift to lightweight packs to im prove cost-efficiencies

• Smaller, on-the-go variants that offer more value-for-money, “Boxmore values its client partnerships. The market promises so much more potential for growth and we look forward to navigating our way through the shifts and challenges to adapt to growing demands,” concluded Drew.

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