Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Business & Appointments - - FRONT PAGE -

IN days gone by, plain or­di­nary hes­sian sacks would have been the nor­mal pack­ag­ing for pota­toes and other pro­duce. But pack­ag­ing has now be­come a so­phis­ti­cated in­dus­try in its own right and a key in­gre­di­ent in most sup­ply chains. Even hes­sian has be­come a pre­mium prod­uct mostly seen as ‘shop­ping bags for life’.

Lo­cated 20km from Let­terkenny is one such com­pany play­ing a lead­ing role in the sec­tor. Formed in 2009 and em­ploy­ing 14 peo­ple, LC Pack­ag­ing is a Dutch-ir­ish com­pany with the Ir­ish op­er­a­tion headed up by lo­cal man Donach Gart­lan.

Ini­tially their main fo­cus was on the fresh pro­duce mar­ket with onion nets, potato bags etc and on the solid fuel mar­ket with bags for coal and logs.

Over the years they lever­aged the strong re­la­tion­ships in their in­ter­na­tional sup­ply base and now make their own FIBC bags. (That’s re­in­forced jumbo bags which are used for dry in­dus­trial pow­ders, an­i­mal feed, milk pow­der and phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals).

Their in­ter­na­tional clients in­clude Nes­tle, Fries­land­camp­ina and Sanofi.

How­ever, be­ing so close to the Bor­der they have ob­vi­ous chal­lenges with Brexit and the risk of a hard Bor­der. Tar­iffs and other charges will be a mar­gin hit for them sell­ing into a key North­ern Ire­land mar­ket­place.

But that will also be an op­por­tu­nity. Af­ter all, if that hap­pens, Uk-based com­peti­tors will also find it dif­fi­cult to sell into the Repub­lic. So if han­dled well, that could be a big win for LC Pack­ag­ing. 2. In­crease Sales through In­no­va­tion The grow­ing food in­dus­try is fac­ing mas­sive change re­gard­ing food safety.

There are a mul­ti­tude of stan­dards, cer­tifi­cates and pro­grammes that due to their com­plex­ity, can ap­pear oner­ous and off-putting at first glance — for ev­ery­one in the sec­tor.

From my work with Glan­bia Con­sumer Foods over the years, I’ve seen the peo­ple there cope with changes in food safety.

Glan­bia has a dy­namic Global In­no­va­tion Cen­tre in Kilkenny where it is con­stantly test­ing and pilot­ing new prod­ucts and ini­tia­tives. In other words, it is proac­tive.

The food in­dus­try is a big growth area for LC, with the pack­ag­ing mar­ket quite frag­mented and lots of com­peti­tors.

They too need to be in­no­va­tive. They should ex­plore how they can lever­age their ex­per­tise and add value to big multi­na­tion­als and smaller cus­tomers alike.

Here are two things they have done: With to­tal fo­cus on the cus­tomer, they en­gage and really lis­ten to them. They now of­fer a new con­sul­tancy ser­vice which helps cus­tomers nav­i­gate the com­plex­ity of com­pli­ance.

They have taken a lead­er­ship po­si­tion and de­vel­oped their own six-pil­lar LC Food Safe As­sur­ance Pro­gramme. On oc­ca­sion, they have ad­vised on spec re­sult­ing in ac­tual sav­ings to their cus­tomer.

An­other ex­am­ple un­re­lated to food safety is their new BOPP bag. Bi­ax­i­ally Ori­ented Polypropy­lene bags have a photo qual­ity layer added to them.

That means that they can work with their cus­tomers to pro­duce a re­tail-friendly prod­uct such as coal — to be sold in­side the store.

Mer­chan­dise sold in the re­tail sec­tor has to be high qual­ity and ap­peal­ing to the con­sumer to in­spire them to buy. LC were one of the first in Ire­land to source this new con­cept and have fa­cil­i­tated a whole new cat­e­gory. Sum­mary Ev­ery or­gan­i­sa­tion re­gard­less of its size, is fac­ing change at some level.

Your re­spec­tive trade as­so­ci­a­tion might well be lob­by­ing on your be­half to re­sist some mea­sures but in the mean­time, you have sales tar­gets to achieve.

Cop­ing with them is en­tirely up to you and I would say to any or­gan­i­sa­tion — to just get on with it. Take a leaf from LC Pack­ag­ing’s book, de­velop a can-do attitude and look on ad­ver­sity as op­por­tu­nity. It will lift your morale which in it­self can be in­fec­tious.

As for in­no­va­tion, change of­ten prompts the need for new prod­ucts or ser­vices.

But it’s not just about tech­nol­ogy. It might also be about new pro­cesses, struc­tures, sys­tems and so on. In LC Pack­ag­ing’s case, they in­no­vated by gen­uinely en­gag­ing with their cus­tomers.

They lis­tened to es­tab­lish their pain points and col­lab­o­rated with them to find cost-ef­fec­tive so­lu­tions.

That en­abled them to add value and be more rel­e­vant. Alan O’neill is a Change Con­sul­tant and Non-exec Di­rec­tor. For 25+ years he has been sup­port­ing global and iconic brands through change.

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