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FINAT Congress Addresses Customer Demand

Madrid, Spain, was the setting this past June for the annual World Congress of FINAT, the worldwide association for the self-adhesive labeling industry. The event was held in association with ANFEC, the Spanish labeling association. Nearly 300 delegates from all over the world filled the conference hall at the Hotel Meliá Castilla.

The conference theme — “Meeting Customer Demand and Remaining Profitable” — is very relevant today in a business environment in which margins are under severe pressure, and consolidation and globalization have made labels a buyer's market.

Highlights included a keynote address from Dean Scarborough, president and chief operating officer of Avery Dennison Corp. He delivered a rallying speech to the delegates — and particularly to the converters, who are feeling the effects of margin pressures the most. “This is such a terrific industry,” he said, urging label converters to think of themselves as service providers to their customers, helping the customers expand their revenues, as well as helping them save money. The keys to long-term profitability, he added, are expanding the market into new areas, selling existing products into new markets, and selling new products into existing markets. Printers could — and should — overcome their reluctance to use suppliers to help grow their businesses.

Presentation topics included RFID (radio frequency identification) product tracking/authentication tagging solutions; the advent of the bar code label and variable information print so one label records — and tracks — send/receive address data, TNT operational service level, and routing data (e.g., airport); and the challenge of supplying automotive customers, a huge industry with a multi-tier supply structure that is still growing at 3%-5%/annum and offers opportunities for label converters prepared to specialize.

Label converters described the challenges of running a labeling business, both in terms of the role a family-owned company can and should play in the industry, and in terms of the skills and fundamental tasks required of a general manager in a label converting company.

Noel Mitchell, president of the European Pressure-Sensitive Manufacturers Association, presented the overall European label stock usage picture, confirming double-digit growth in on-roll films and continuing steady growth in on-roll papers. Geographically, he said, Eastern Europe shows the biggest growth across virtually all product categories.

Updates were offered on recent FINAT industry initiatives: the Waste Management/Recycling program, and — with EPSMA — the development and establishment of an XML transactional standard for e-commerce to address the two current main issues of concern: security and technical transmission accuracy.

The next FINAT World Congress will take place in Vienna, Austria, June 4-7, 2003. For more information visit finat.com.


 

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