Poplast is one of Italy’s top players in the plastics industry – and is eager to grow further. Its products are mixes of technology and research, and are often ahead of the market. Among its major gravure printed products are food packaging solutions, furniture laminates and wrapping films.
But Poplast owes its outstanding success not only to innovative products that are mainly used in the food industry: State-of-the-art technology, a business strategy that includes future-oriented, strategic acquisitions, committed and reliable employees, and a strict customer orientation are crucial elements of the company’s winning formula.
Being up to date has always been a key theme in Poplast’s impressive history. The company was founded in 1975 by Franco Corbellini and Alessandro Stragliati, and first concentrated on manufacturing plastic bags. Constantly looking for new market opportunities, and driven by the eternal quest for a better solution, Poplast regularly invested in advanced technologies.
The introduction of flexible film packaging in the 1980s and the rotogravure printing process in 2004 were important milestones that propelled sales. With the entry of Eos Private Equity in 2016, and the acquisitions of Sala Srl in 2017 and FM Plastic in 2018, a new chapter began – and a further boost to the dimensional growth of the company was given. Today, Poplast is a leading company when it comes to the development and promotion of innovative solutions for the plastics industry. Its production site spans 28,500 m² and is based in Castel San Giovanni close to Piacenza, while FM Plastic is located in Pistoia, Tuscany.
With 140 employees Poplast mainly concentrates on packaging solutions for the food industry. “Customers appreciate that we quickly realize ideas,” states Managing Director Carlo Callegari. “We are a lot quicker than competitors. Customers place orders, we get their files and start printing. Last year, we established our own graphic office, which has turned out to be a great asset.”
Typical products are packaging solutions for fresh pasta, salami, dried fruit, coffee, rice and deep-frozen products. Around 1 million kg of material are produced per month – a volume that makes Poplast one of the top five market players in Italy.
Our strength is the ability to react quickly. We are able to deliver within three weeks, while competitors need eight weeks. Carlo CallegariManaging Director
“Our strength is our exceptional responsiveness,” sums up Mr. Callegari. “The service really makes the difference. These days, we are in a position to deliver within three weeks; competitors generally need eight weeks. We simply have the perfect infrastructure and logistics to quickly react to customer needs – extremely quickly. Our warehouse measures 5,000 m2 and stocks diverse raw materials – there is space for up to 7,000 pallets. This ensures that the necessary material is always available. Despite our size, we are as flexible as we were in our earlier days.”
Thanks to its far-sighted philosophy, the company has embarked on a path of growth which is illustrated by simple figures. Turnover has increased steadily over recent years. In 2014, Poplast generated 29 million EUR, in 2015, 39 million EUR. In 2016, with revenues of 36 million EUR, there was a drop in sales but only one year later the business took off again, and annual revenues reached 41 million EUR. In 2018, Poplast generated 52.2 million EUR, and now, a further growth spurt is expected.
“Due to the acquisition of FM Plastic and Sala Srl, sales of 70 million EUR in 2019 seem to be within the realms of possibility,” states Mr. Callegari. “Over the last ten years, we have been able to achieve exceptional growth. The fact that we sold an 86.5% stake to Eos Investment Management has had a very positive affect on many aspects of our business. Even the mentality changed. Other factors that have spurred our development are warehouse facilities and a good logistics concept. Last but not least, we rely on advanced technologies guaranteeing quick and reliable production processes. Each year, we invest in new machinery and maintenance services to enhance productivity. This year, we invested 6.5 million EUR, as we acquired three rotogravure printing machines within two months. The rotogravure printing technique is well-suited for larger print runs and high-quality multicolour printing. The latest machine offers up to ten colours. Our business model integrates all phases of the value chain from engineering and research to the final production. We have experts for the most complex technological challenges, regardless if rapid prototyping, laser technologies, 3D printing, the development of specific materials for additive manufacturing, or rotogravure printing. As we control the entire production process, we are in a position to guarantee outstanding quality.”
Poplast’s quality awareness is underpinned by numerous certifications such as BRC, ISO 9001, ISO 14001, KOSHER and FSC. Currently, the company is working on getting a new certification for the production of biodegradable materials.
“We put great emphasis on respecting and protecting the environment,” points out Mr. Callegari. “Given this, biodegradable materials are essential as they help to reduce the amount of waste. We are pursuing the idea of a complete eco-sustainability and hope to get the relevant certification in March.”
Satisfying the needs of customers is what motivates Poplast. The company constantly looks for product and service improvements, and paves the way to further strengthen its market position at home and abroad. Currently exports make up 20% of sales.
“We are looking optimistically to the future as we operate in a very stable market,” points out Mr. Callegari. “Looking back, I think that reaching 90 million EUR within the coming years is quite an achievable goal. Our aim is to acquire more international customers. For me, it is very rewarding to see how much Poplast has achieved so far – and the future looks bright. Every year, we hire around 30 new employees. They are the backbone of the company and they identify with the company’s philosophy and vision. It is not easy to find the right people. We need specialists, people with profound know-how and a passion for plastics. Therefore, regular training is part of our concept. First of all, employees need to be able to work with our machinery, afterwards there are many opportunities to climb the career ladder in a company with unique potential.”