Copapharm raises Spanish profile with new member Nekar

By Pete Mansell

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Pharmaceutical packaging Europe

Copapharm Europe, the pan-European alliance of pharmaceutical
packagers, has significantly raised its game in the Spanish market
with a new member, Artes Graficas Nekar.

What gives Copapharm particular leverage in Spain is Nekar's close relationship with fellow Spanish packager Icesa, which was already an established shareholder in Copapharm. Nekar was acquired in June 2006 by the Madrid-based investment group GED and EBN for €28 million. The leveraged buy-in was effected through the Spanish group's investment vehicle Cardboard Printing Holdings, which subsequently acquired Icesa Packaging for €33.8 million in September 2007. GED and EBN then set about integrating the two complementary businesses, although Icesa and Nekar - both based in Madrid - have retained their trading names and a measure of independence, albeit under one general manager. According to Copapharm, the combined share of Icesa and Nekar in the Spanish market for pharmaceutical packaging is nearly 15 per cent. With both companies under the GED and EBN umbrella - and now both shareholders in the packaging alliance - "all the Spanish Copapharm Europe companies will be able to increase their capabilities and overall production capacity"​, Copapharm said. Established in 1965 and 1967 respectively, Icesa and Nekar each has a production capacity of more than 500 million carton units per year, the alliance noted. Both companies manufacture packaging for high value-added markets, including pharmaceuticals and healthcare, cosmetics, perfume, personal care and niches within the food industry. The main emphasis, though, is on pharmaceutical packaging. According to Copapharm spokesperson Sylvia Wieloch, each of the companies derives around 80 per cent of its sales from the pharmaceutical market. As she pointed out, packagers can only qualify for Copapharm membership if they are mainly pharmaceutical-oriented. The integration of Icesa and Nekar as Copapharm members is expected to bring other benefits for customers of the alliance, including assured supply and response capacity, "as speed of response combined with high-quality, secure production is increasingly demanded in the pharmaceutical industry"​, it noted. Wieloch said Spain had been gaining traction in recent years as a manufacturing base for pharmaceutical packaging, commenting: "Everything moves in Europe"​. Whereas in other European countries there are a couple of packaging/printing companies with 25-30 per cent of the market, in Spain the trend is more towards smaller players operating locally, she observed. Copapharm has one other Spanish member, the Barcelona-based Pans. That gives the alliance a total of nine shareholder companies across Europe with 19 manufacturing sites in total spanning Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Serbia Montenegro, Spain, the UK and Ireland. The nine members are Faller (Germany), Packetis (France), Palladio and Zannini (Italy), Goldprint (Belgium), Storey Evans (UK), and Icesa, Nekar and Pans (Spain). Packetis was formed out of the merger of Packart and Rotanotice, both subsidiaries of the French Ileos group, in July 2007. Copapharm Europe reported combined turnover of €265m in 2006, up by 8.5 per cent on the previous year and with the share of pharmaceuticals in overall packaging sales rising from 84 per cent to 85 per cent. The alliance will release sales data for 2007 sometime around the end of March/beginning of April. A particular issue for Copapharm this year is systems solutions, Wieloch told "The pharmaceutical industry is getting more and more demanding,"​ she commented, not just in terms of the packaging itself but the whole supply chain

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