Founded a century ago as a supplier of metal garment trims for the fashion industry, Argentina-based Apholos has been producing bespoke metal labels and stoppers for wines and spirits since 1997. The company has established a strong presence in the US, which now accounts for some 70% of its wine and spirits business, and is making a push into Europe. We spoke to Creative Director Luciana Botner about Apholos’ ambitions in the region.
You recently inked a partnership with Sansoar to develop your business in Europe.
In Europe, we already have representation in Spain and England. Our partnership with Sansoar is two-fold: sourcing and quality control of metal corks and overseeing assembly in Portugal, and as our sales representative in Portugal and some parts of France, namely in Cognac and Champagne.
Our goal is to have a 1% share in the European market for metal labels, corks and muselets, but this is not limited to high-end luxury products and limited-editions. We’re targeting champagne and wines and spirits that retail for more than €40 a bottle. Our focus in the region is on the natural cork and metal cap segment and as Apholos also manufactures muselets, we want to make a strong push in the Champagne segment. Beyond printing, our muselets can be embossed, engraved or stamped and we offer more than 300 colors as well as a variety of finishes, from 24 carat gold-plated to metal that is stained and treated to look aged.
Will getting a foothold in the French market be a challenge?
The market in France is very traditional when it comes to labels, and it is uncommon for a French wine to carry a label that is not either white or beige, so we think it would be a real challenge for us to establish a market in that segment. Champagne and sparkling wines, however, are different as many brands are keen to use metal labels. For exports to Asia, for example, there is a high demand for metals and embellishments that sparkle.
How has the health crisis impacted your business?
Some projects have been put on hold for 2021, although this has not been the case in the US. In Europe, we’ve had to lower our expectations by around 30% for 2021.
We are expecting sales of around $2m in Europe in the next two years. This is on the conservative side, since a single customer can place an order worth $500,000 a year, but we consider it a good starting point given the health crisis and the fact we are new to the market.
What is your approach to eco-design at Apholos?
Our metal labels are made of zamak, which we have been recycling from scrap in-house for 15 years. We can provide 100% recycled zamak content for some labels and caps, although others don’t allow for this due to their thickness.
One of our intentions in the near future is to use 100% recycled raw materials, which includes zamak, copper, steel and brass.
In terms of our production, 90% of the water used at our galvanic plant is recycled, so our water usage is minimal.
What trends are you seeing for metal and paper labels?
There is growing demand for paper labels embossed with metal foil. Certain labels that try to imitate metal could actually be more expensive than the metal label itself. Our metal labels, for example, start at about €0.20-€0.30 apiece, while paper labels looking to imitate metal can cost between €0.50 and €0.80.