Luxe Packaging Insight discusses Pusterla 1880's recent investments and acquisitions with Managing Director Roberto Marini. He also gives a sneak preview into the sustainable packaging innovations the company will unveil at LUXE PACK Monaco in September.
Over the past 18 months, the profession has faced an unprecedented crisis. How have you adapted?
Like all industry players, we have been confronted with massive order cancellations and postponements. However, given that we had been seeing growth for several years, we were able to face the crisis in better conditions than some of our competitors. Although we haven’t registered losses as such, our turnover has nevertheless dropped by around 10%, mainly due to ongoing projects that were put on hold.
That said, as of March 2020, our primary concern was to do everything possible to secure our production sites; as you know, Italy was hit by the pandemic very early on, which in a way enabled us to anticipate. While most European countries were still in denial about hte situation, we were among the first to supply our French and UK factories with ad hoc sanitary equipment, which meant that we were able to avoid closures, even in Varese, a region that was in the eye of the storm, so to speak. This reactivity enabled us to limit the damage. At the same time, and despite the fact that before the crisis we were planning to take a break in our external growth policy in order to consolidate our latest acquisitions — Virojanglor and Cavalieri & Amoretti —, we saw that the context could be favorable to new integrations. Our reasoning was the same as during the 2008/2009 crisis: we didn't know where we were going or how long it would last, but we wanted to believe in our clients' ability to bounce back and in our ability to support them through targeted acquisitions.
So are you primarily focusing on external growth?
Yes, with a few notable changes in our strategy. Until now, we have made acquisitions using our own funds, but given the prevailing uncertainty, we decided that the time had come to strengthen our capital and seek out a financial partner. We chose to work with Andera Partners. Thanks to the company’s €25m equity investment, we were able to finalize the acquisition of Pollard Boxes and Adine — two companies with high added value expertise that will enable us, first, to strengthen our positions on the UK market (Pollard Boxes is the region’s leading producer of rigid boxes) and secondly, to increase our production capacity with increased flexibility for medium and small runs in the case of Adine.
We have also taken advantage of the current situation to restructure our debt and convert it into Sustainability-Linked Bonds, which is a first in Europe for a company in the packaging sector. This choice is in line with our environmental strategy, as under the Sustainable Bonds system, the cost of our debt will be directly linked to our achievements when it comes to our sustainable development objectives. In other words, the higher our environmental rating, the lower our interest rate. We have negotiated a number of concrete objectives, particularly in terms of reducing our CO2 emissions, and our decision to issue a Euro PP Sustainable Bond is a testament to both our commitment and our determination. It is also a strong message to our teams.
What will you present at LUXE PACK Monaco and what role will the 2021 edition play in your recovery strategy?
LUXE PACK Monaco has always been a key event for Pusterla and while today it may be challenged by other shows, it continues to play a priority role. As for what we will be presenting, it will come as no surprise that the innovations will primarily center on eco-designed solutions. It’s still too early to delve into the details, but we have continued to work on zero plastic insert systems at varying price points to make this type of ‘eco-cushion’ available to the largest number of brands. We have also developed a plastic-free system to replace conventional cellophane wrapping that assures the same functions of inviolability and case protection.