Alpla targets growth in Africa with its biggest ever acquisition

From left: Boxmore CEO Len Engelbrecht; Alpla CEO Günther Lehner; Christoph Riedlsperger, regional director for Africa, Middle East and Turkey for Alpla

Austrian packaging company Alpla-Werke Alwin Lehner GmbH & Co KG has continued its growth spurt with its fifth and biggest international acquisition since the beginning of the year.

The Hard, Austria-based company announced July 7 that it had acquired South Africa’s Boxmore Packaging, as part of its growth plan in Africa, which it describes as a growing attractive market.

Based in Samrand, near Johannesburg, Boxmore employs around 1,000 people and specializes in PET preforms, PET bottles and closures. It has manufacturing in South Africa, as well as Zambia — about 1,200 miles north of South Africa — and Mauritius, an island nation in the Indian Ocean, which gives the company a customer base beyond its original footprint.

“The African continent is an attractive growth market for us. With the purchase of Boxmore Packaging, we now also have a broad basis for entering the market in South Africa, in addition to our activities with Alpla Taba in North Africa,” said CEO Günther Lehner.

Alpla did not disclose the cost of the transaction but said is was the biggest in the company’s history.

The move follows the company’s June acquisitions of Italy’s Propack srl and a former Gehl Foods plant in West Bend, Wis., and two two purchases in Romania in February and March.

According to corporate marketing & brand manager, Dominic Fiel, global growth is now part of the company’s strategy and the recent acquisitions are part of that.

“Alpla grew very fast last year and we have found out that acquisitions are the right way forward,” Fiel told Plastics News Europe.

In the past, he added, the company’s strategy was to follow our customers into new regions. But the new strategy is to do the due diligence, find attractive markets and get there through acquisitions.

According to Fiel, Alpla is now represented in every region of the world apart from Australia, where he said the company has no immediate intention of entering, partly due to strong competition from Amcor Ltd.

Fiel did not rule out more acquisitions for this year, stating that his colleagues in relevant departments are now working on certain due diligence projects.

Post-acquisition, Boxmore’s management structure will remain the same with Alpla’s board managing the business and helping it integrate.

According to Alpla, Boxmore, founded in 1995, “is seen as the market leader for PET preforms and bottles as well as closures, in southern Africa.”

The company has nine manufacturing plants and supplies to 20 African countries as well as islands in the Indian Ocean.

The takeover was signed July 5 and will be completed after legal and regulatory approvals.

Alpla has been operating a production plant in Johannesburg since 2014 and took over the Egyptian facility of Argo SA in El Obour at the end of 2015.

In March 2016, the Austrian firm set up a joint venture with Egypt’s Taba Group to strengthen its market presence in North Africa and the Middle East.

Since early 2017, the company has operated under the name Alpla Taba in the region and opened a new production site in Ramadan City, Egypt, as part of its African growth plan.



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