Tag: industry

Despite the struggling global supply chain, labour shortages and economic difficulties as the world tries to bounce back from COVID, global demand for uncoated freesheet (UFS) grew last year. This is according to a recent report by OPI.

Highlights of the report include:

  • Cutsize paper demand across Europe in 2021 rose by just over 2%
  • Shipments increased about 8%
  • Capacity dropped 7%
  • Buyer inventory levels dropped to their lowest in more than a decade
  • The US market for office paper had a slight recovery versus 2020
  • For the full year of 2021, Mondi reported year-on-year revenue growth of 11% for its Uncoated Fine Paper segment
  • Sylvamo – formerly International Paper’s Printing Papers division – reported sales that were almost 17% higher
  • Portugal-based Navigator benefitted from a surge in demand for its uncoated woodfree (UWF) paper, with sales increasing 23%, while those for the Communications Paper division at Finnish manufacturer UPM grew by 8%
  • Sales at Packaging Corporation of America’s Boise division fell as it was unable to offset rising energy costs.
  • Finland-based Stora Enso reported a decline in revenues for 2021

Continuing pressure due to sustained gas and electricity price rises, supply chain issues and the war in the Ukraine has not helped matters. It appears that the paper industry in one in crisis.

Deon Joubert of Merpak commented as follows:

Our South African paper converting and printing businesses, like so many around the world, are under significant pressure to source supply.

Covid and the resultant drop in demand for, especially uncoated wood-free paper and newsprint, around the world has seen traditional manufacturers of this grade taking commercial downtime, converting paper machines to packaging grades or, in some cases even shutting down permanently.

The post Covid recovery and the return to office has seen demand for these grades grow to the point where it may be that demand now exceeds supply. Combined with the shipping crisis, the resultant explosion in shipping costs, lengthening of shipping lead times and port congestion has battered paper supply chains.

The war in Ukraine has affected energy costs in Western Europe where many of these mills are to be found.

At home, local mills have also suffered from rapidly rising input costs in pulp and chemicals. Demand has been strong and for the past few months some customers have been put on allocation by local mills.

Then the devastating KZN floods have tipped our local supply upside down with all Sappi and Mondi mills in the region suffering flood damage. Mondi has needed to declare force majeure as the Merebank mill was severely damaged and with the lack of municipal power in the Merebank area are yet to completely understand when we may see the start of paper production again.

The effect on printers and paper convertors could be devastating. Just as the world of work and traditional paper communication media was showing some recovery, the price and shortages of paper may well see an accelerated move to digital platforms. Once lost to electronic communication, it is very hard for our industry to return to print.

We are most concerned.

South Africa’s consumer, industrial and export-led sectors are expected to recover as global and local demand returns, says Henkel South Africa, who recently celebrating 70 years in the country.

Henkel South Africa is a subsidiary of Henkel AG & Co. KGaA. The company is a century old German company that became a successful multinational present in more than 100 markets. From a family business founded in 1876 to 145 years of success, Henkel operates globally with a well-balanced and diversified portfolio. The company holds leading positions with its three business units Adhesive Technologies, Laundry & Home Care and Beauty Care. As a recognised leader in sustainability, Henkel holds top positions in many international indices and rankings. Henkel employs more than 53,000 people globally – a highly diverse team, united by a strong company culture, a common purpose, and shared values.

We are extremely proud of our long, rich heritage in SA, supporting growth, economic development and opportunity across the communities we serve. Based on our history of success, we are now witnessing signs of recovery and future growth, following a difficult year for economies around the world.

Locally, I believe that there is a great deal of potential for the South African economy as the country has a lot of sectors with growth potential, but those that stand out are the consumer and industrial sectors, technology and innovation, and export-oriented areas like automotive.

Popular brands like Pritt, Pattex, Loctite and Schwarzkopf are now part of everyday life for millions of people in SA, and what we have noticed is that demand for essential products has proven resilient during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, to embrace a future that will no doubt be full of possibility and risk, we need to ensure we continue to innovate to stay a step ahead.

In its 13th South Africa Economic Update, the World Bank says the current global outlook is looking better after the 2020 collapse and South Africa is positioned to grow at the fastest pace in over a decade, bouncing back from 2020’s 7% growth contraction. While there is still “considerable uncertainty,” economic growth could rebound to 4.0% in 2021. More recently, other sources such as the South African Reserve Bank have even increased their GDP growth projections to above 5% for last year (2021).

Although South Africa has battled a third and fourth wave of COVID-19 infections, and a close watch is needed moving into the New Year, talk of a recovery is extremely positive. Henkel is also noticing signs of stronger demand returning, as it trends ahead of the recovery in other regions.

The automotive sector, in particular, was driving growth for most part of last year as new locally-produced models came on stream, together with general manufacturing on the back of infrastructure demand. Other industries doing well include beverages and packaging.

As a result, our commitment in South Africa remains strong and we are constantly seeking ways in which to invest further in the country, albeit through innovation, technology, skills development, or corporate social investment – our commitment is to keep growing.

Business risks include rising costs, driven primarily by raw materials, electricity and logistics, but also global supply chain shortages. To achieve purposeful growth we therefore need to intensify our efforts to step up customer and consumer proximity with faster decision-making mechanisms and to increase efficiency by constantly reshaping our operating models to be lean, fast and simple.

Furthermore, Henkel worldwide aims to strengthen sustainability as a competitive differentiator. Our aim is to reduce the carbon footprint of our production by 65 percent by continuously improving energy efficiency and by using electricity from renewable sources. In addition, we want to leverage our brands and technologies to save 100 million tons CO2 together with our consumers, customers and suppliers by 2025. We are working towards a circular economy and zero plastic waste in the environment.

We also realise the critical role we must play in our communities and we want to enhance our positive social impact on communities through responsible sourcing. We continue to maintain an intense dialog with our suppliers to promote sustainable practices and the respect for human rights along our value chain.

We supply a very wide array of consumer and industrial needs, and while we often fly below the radar from a marketing perspective, our technology solutions are holding many products together.

A key focus for the future will be on introducing sustainable solutions, both in our products and also towards socially driven initiatives. We will continue to contribute towards building a better world and society.

With both business and consumer confidence returning, Henkel’s diverse array of products – from household and industrial-grade adhesives to hair care – ensures we are well positioned for the next 70 years in SA.

 

Construction industry under siege

Armed gangs are increasingly invading construction sites across the country, harassing workers and threatening violence unless their employment demands are met.

Databuild CEO Morag Evans believes that unless contractors take a firm stand against these so-called business forums, also known as the construction mafia, the scourge will only get worse.

The violence first reared its ugly head in KwaZulu-Natal but soon spread to Gauteng, the Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and eventually other provinces.

The attacks stem from the promulgation in 2017 of new regulations to the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act (PPPFA), which stipulate that 30 per cent of all contract value on state construction contracts must be allocated to certain designated groups, including black South Africans, women and people with disabilities.

Even though the regulations specifically refer to government contracts, private sector construction sites have also fallen prey to the violence.

The gangs demand either a 30% stake in the project or 30% of the total contract value in cash as “protection” against further violent disruptions and work stoppages. Recently, they have begun targeting shopping centres with demands to be employed as tellers or refuse collectors.

“Their actions amount to nothing more than extortion and giving in to these thugs only serves to encourage the abuse,” says Evans.

“The fact is,” she points out, “the perpetrators of these site disruptions have misunderstood the PPPFA regulations, which are geared to including designated groups in state contracts on a national level and do not necessarily refer to local communities.”

The damage inflicted by these gangs often means that projects are delayed for months, which causes costs to spiral, Evans continues. “Additionally, construction insurance policies do not always cover damage or loss in these circumstances. Consequently, many businesses, including black-owned small and medium enterprises, are facing financial ruin.”

Evans calls on law enforcement to be more proactive when it comes to the policing of construction sites to ensure the safety of workers and infrastructure and assist contractors in standing up to the gangs. “The police cannot work in isolation, however. Contractors have a responsibility to ensure that sites are properly demarcated with access-controlled entry and exit points. Effective safety and emergency measures, which include a communication plan, must be set up and additional security can also be employed, if necessary.

“Furthermore, politicians should refrain from creating unrealistic expectations for employment on construction projects. While the involvement of local contractors is essential, egotistical attempts to win popularity points merely fuel the disruptive attacks when false hopes cannot be met.

“There are also legal avenues to follow to mitigate the violence,” she adds. “Leading attorneys have won numerous court interdicts on behalf of construction companies against those inflicting the disruptions and claim significant success in radically minimising delays resulting from violence committed by business forum members.

“Harassment, violence and extortion are not the means to achieve transformation in the construction industry. Such actions are criminal in every sense of the word and cause more harm than good,” Evans concludes.

New bill aims to ‘regulate’ Airbnb in SA

The public has 60 days from Monday April 15 to submit comments on the Tourism Amendment Bill, which will regulate short-term accommodation in the so-called shared economy, Blessing Manale, chief director of communications at the Department of Tourism, told Fin24 on Monday.

Airbnb is an example of such a business model.

“We are not trying to ‘kill’ Airbnb-type accommodation, but there is currently no legislation stipulating who is responsible for regulating that industry,” he said.

The bill was published in the Government Gazette on Friday April 12 and re-published on Monday April 15, due to a printing glitch. The bill will enable the minister of tourism to determine certain so-called “thresholds” for short-term home rentals.

According to Manale, these could include a limit on the number of nights guests could stay at an establishment. It could perhaps even limit the number of guests due to potentially larger water consumption in an area. Thresholds could also look at pricing, zoning, how much an establishment can earn and maybe even regulating matters like security.

“It is ultimately to ensure we bring all the various types of short-term accommodation into one pot. We want to make sure that whatever shared economy business model comes here, we are ready for it,” said Manale.

The Department of Tourism plans to discuss with provincial and local governments on issues like oversight on zoning and whether Airbnbs-type establishments should only be allowed to operate in certain areas.

“We are proposing to first empower the minister of tourism and then he can decide what should be the biggest priorities, for instance for thresholds,” said Manale.

He emphasised that it is not about whether operations like Airbnb and should exist or not.

“They are, however, mostly self-regulating. We now just want to hear both sides – from those having such accommodation establishments and those who feel it is hampering the more ‘formal’ tourism industry,” he said.

“The bill is now under public consultation. We just want to gather input from the industry, local government and even tax experts on how to deal with income, for instance, that might be falling through the cracks.”

The department is in the process of holding seminars and workshops to inform people about the bill and its proposed changes for the shared-economy.

“There is still a long way to go,” said Manale.

“From government’s side, we realise that it will be useless to make regulations if we cannot ‘police’ it,” he said.

“Those running the likes of Airbnbs need not worry that government wants to ‘kill’ the shared economy in the tourism industry. It is a business model that works. The intention of the bill is rather to create the best outcome for the local tourism industry.”

More information on how to submit comments on the bill can be obtained from Mmaditonki Setwaba on msetwaba@tourism.gov.za or 012 444 6312.

Why would you start a business in a dying industry? Just ask Alexander Knieps.

In this electronic world, many say print is dead. But Alexander Knieps, the founder of online printing company, Printulu, echoing the words of famous author Mark Twain, says reports of this death are greatly exaggerated.

“If you look at how this industry is developing, I don’t think we are moving into a paperless industry, at least not in the next 50 years. Afterwards, I don’t know. It is all about what channel is out there and whether it is affordable,” says Knieps.

We meet Knieps at an industrial park in Modderfontein, east of Johannesburg. This is where business cards, posters, postcards, and flyers are printed for thousands of companies, media houses and coffee shops across South Africa. In a matter of minutes, a pile of paper flows from the printer.

On this spring day, the sun shines brightly and the sky is clear. The tranquillity is shaken by the loud rattle of paper being printed.

“In our age of technology, when you are studying, nobody thinks, ‘ooh, let me go into paper’. I think it is a very rare thing,” says Knieps.

Knieps, who is born and bred in Germany, founded Johannesburg-based Printulu last year. The name is a combination of the words print and Zulu (a South African language). He studied business at EBS Business School in Germany and got his master’s degree at ESADE Business School in Barcelona, Spain.

Starting the business has been far from plain sailing.

“The first couple of months, we were completely bootstrapped. You get your first clients, you show some nice traction, and then, in the beginning of the year, we raised some funds, which were a couple of million rands, which are enough to last for the next two years,” he says.

Investors are hard to find.

“South Africa is not the easiest place to raise money. There also isn’t much money in the market because of the current economic climate. [When] it comes to online printing, people just look at the industry itself; they don’t think how you could invest deeper. There aren’t many investors and it takes a while to close deals [compared to] anywhere else in the world,” he says.

Knieps says the future for paper printing is mass production.

“We are batching up all these smaller orders and print them in bulk and that is how you can disrupt the market. Hence, you see a shift from offline to online in the industry,” he says.

He calls on other entrepreneurs to get with the times.

“The industry is very inefficient in a way that there is a lot of competitive pressure. There are thousands of printers in Gauteng who are operating with an archaic business model. You have inefficiency on the one side and macroeconomic pressure on the other. That is why a lot of printers are closing down even though we are growing strongly at the moment. If you see those components, it actually makes people a lot more price sensitive and that actually helps the business to scale,” he says.

Print dead? Not in the world of Knieps.

By Melitta Ngalonkulu for Forbes Africa
Image: Forbes Africa

The writing tool renaissance

Here’s a fact you have to write down to believe: Over the past 10 years, during which the world has adopted smartphones and social media, sales of fountain pens have risen.

Retail sales, in particular, have grown consistently. In 2016 they were up 2.1 percent from the year before, making fountain pens a $1 billion market, according to a report by Euromonitor International. To compare, the overall market for personal luxury goods—watches, handbags, cars—was stagnant over the same period, suggesting that a good pen is a better investment than the bespoke suit in which it’s stowed.

These forces are even more pronounced in the Japanese market, where a study by Yano Research Institute Ltd. finds that fountain pen sales grew a remarkable 19.1 percent from 2014 to 2015, a leap attributed in part to an increased number of foreign buyers purchasing high-end Japanese products. In the Digital Age, it seems, the written word is the ultimate luxury.

The Nakaya Fountain Pen Co., in Tokyo, was one of the first pen makers to realize this, doubling down on individual craftsmanship even as the industry as a whole began trending toward mass production. What seemed like folly 20 years ago is starting to look more and more like smart business.

Nakaya is the brainchild of Toshiya Nakata, grandson of Platinum Pen Co. founder Shunichi Nakata. Toshiya’s father, Toshihiro, was president of Platinum in the mid-1990s when several of its most experienced craftsmen announced their retirement. For Toshiya, who’d left his banking job to learn the family business at the age of 29, the news came at a precarious time: The looming threat of email had fountain pen manufacturers worried that their product was doomed to obsolescence—or at least to a shift down-market.

Fearing that the workers’ departure represented an irreplaceable loss of skills, the youngest Nakata formed Nakaya, a line that would be a wholly owned subsidiary of Platinum but work independently. “There is a limit to the mass-produced fountain pen business,” says Nakata, a lean man in rimless glasses with a brusque, matter-of-fact manner, when we meet in Nakaya’s tiny but bustling headquarters in Taito City, Tokyo.

The retirees had occasionally been called upon to repair and adjust older pens, but that wasn’t enough for Nakata. “I thought, Why don’t we make some fountain pens?” In 1999 he signed up the pensioners to return to their familiar positions. Kohsuke Matsubara, a lathe master, went back to turning pen barrels from brownish-gray ebonite, a hard rubber material. (Matsubara still turns many of the Nakaya barrels himself.) Kazuo Maruyama, a metal-press specialist, fabricated nibs and pocket clips. Sadao Watanabe hand-adjusted all of the early Nakaya pens. In 2003 designer Shinichi Yoshida was hired away from Platinum to create models for the Nakaya line.

On the 17mm-diameter Long Cigar Chinkin Dragonflies fountain pen ($4,000), designs are carved into an urushi base using chisels, lacquer is inlaid in the grooves, then metal leaf and powder are added.
Photographer: Keirnan Monaghan for Bloomberg Businessweek; Prop stylist: Theo Vamvounakis
According to Nakata, as much as 75 percent of its sales come from outside Japan—even though the company has no presence on the trade show circuit, not even at the annual Collectible Fountain Pen Supershow in Washington, billed as the “largest pen event in the world.” Nor will it be attending the London Writing Equipment Show in October, one of the biggest gatherings of its kind in Europe.

Instead, news of Nakaya spreads mainly through word-of-mouth on message boards such as Fountain Pen Geeks and on blogs, where the pens are described as “smooth,” “glossy,” “glowing,” and “poetic.” The only U.S. distributor is the online shop Nibs.com, which always has some items in stock for immediate purchase and can make minor adjustments on the fly. A few used models can be found on EBay, as well.

The ideal way to experience a Nakaya, though, is to hold it and feel it in your hand. The best way to test the pens is at one of the many impressive fountain pen emporiums in Tokyo: the vast Maruzen bookstore, a few blocks from the Imperial Palace; the airy rooms of stationery superstore Itoya, hidden among Ginza’s luxury boutiques; or the well-stocked specialist shop Kingdom Note in bustling Shinjuku.

Cruising their display cabinets can make a visitor feel as if she’s seeing double, or perhaps even octuple. The pens from Japan’s three big manufacturers—Pilot, Platinum, and Sailor—tend to look awfully similar, and after a while, the rows of dark, somber objects with metal clips and center bands can start to run together.

But even a novice can identify products from Nakaya. The first clue is the color palette, which explodes in reds, greens, pinks, ochers, cornflower blues, even bright oranges, all so shiny the pens almost appear to be underwater.

Some feature small, gold-colored pocket clips, but most are unadorned—no branding, no hardware, just cylinders of glistening lacquer. They’re the sort of sparkly item tailor-made for the Instagram era, but good luck getting the pens’ biggest fans to define their exact appeal.

“You can feel something when you hold a Nakaya that’s different from all other pens”
“I can’t explain it,” says Brad Dowdy. The fountain pen aficionado has devoted millions of words to the merits of analog writing tools during the past decade of producing his Pen Addict blog, but when it comes to the Nakaya Portable Cigar fountain pen—his personal favorite—he’s at a loss.

Sure, the nib is butter smooth, the weight perfectly distributed, and the blue-green finish, known as ao-tamenuri, spectacular. But the Nakaya is so distinctive, it throws him for a loop. “You can feel something when you hold a Nakaya that’s different from all other pens,” he says with an air of slightly exasperated admiration.

For Brian Anderson, a longtime collector, it’s the range of customization that separates a Nakaya from the rest of the market. Anderson, who with his wife, Lisa, operates the thriving online and brick-and-mortar operation Anderson Pens out of Appleton, Wis., says the brand “is intended to be bespoke. You can have whatever model you want, whatever finish, with whatever nib.”

As long as you’re willing to wait. The company makes only about 1,500 pens per year. And because many coats of lacquer are required to create the deep, even finish Nakaya is known for, the process takes about two months to complete.

Today, almost all the newly turned barrels are shipped to Wajima, a small peninsula six hours by train to the west of Tokyo. The area’s claim to fame, and its status in Japan as an “intangible cultural asset,” is the urushi lacquerware that artisans have been creating there since the 1500s.

The smooth, lustrous finish that has become Nakaya’s calling card begins its life as the milky white sap of the urushi tree. Although the trees still grow in Wajima, the region hasn’t been able to keep up with demand, and these days the sap is usually imported from China for the undercoating; the homegrown version is used for the top layers.

Urushi sap turns a light amber when exposed to air, but once it’s been filtered to remove impurities, more colorful pigments are added, and the resulting lacquer is then painted onto the pen barrels. After each coating, the urushi must be allowed to dry—or, more properly, to absorb moisture from the air, which causes it to solidify.

Between layers, the urushi is painstakingly buffed to a high sheen, and on many Nakaya pens, multiple layers of a second color are applied and then polished so the first color is barely visible—where the cap meets the barrel, on the threads, or on the lip right above the nib. Nakaya’s popular 10-sided Decapod model highlights this particular effect: Where the edges meet, reds, oranges, and greens show through the darker top coats.

Given the handmade quality of the pens, the entry-level models are surprisingly affordable, starting at $650. Sailor, Nakaya’s closest competitor, starts its urushi line at $1,900; the mass-produced black-resin Montblanc 149, a classic status-symbol gift, costs about $950.

The Yano study also notes that the increasing availability of high-quality, low-cost models for entry-level users is creating brand-new fountain pen fans. The finding hints at a virtuous connection between Nakaya’s prestige line and Platinum’s full range, which includes the Preppy, a $2 refillable fountain pen for the Japanese market.

Although some partisans of Pelikan International Corp., Montblanc, and other European brands complain that Nakayas lack heft, that lightness is a boon for the people who use them. Dowdy, the Pen Addict, describes his Nakaya as “disappearing” into his hand.

Lightheartedness is also part of the Nakaya spirit. Starting in 2003, the company released a line of converters—devices that allow a pen to use bottled ink as well as a cartridge—that are hand-painted with images of seaweed, tadpoles, cherry blossoms, and maple leaves. The converters aren’t visible through the pens’ opaque barrels, making them the equivalent of Mickey Mouse boxers worn under a bespoke business suit, a hidden bit of whimsy that leaves the stylish facade intact.

In the fountain pen world there is something of a tension between collectors, people who like to play Noah and buy two of each item, and users, those who take pleasure in putting the pens through their paces. Nakayas appeal to both. They are indisputably works of art, masterpieces crafted by hand using skills refined over a lifetime. And yet a pen with a nib this good—sexy, responsive, fine-tuned to the owner’s hand—deserves to be used. It would be a crime against writing to keep it locked away in a display case.

By June Thomas for Bloomberg

Till 1995, paper as a commodity was called white gold. But this gold has lost its sheen. In the 1960s, economists predicted that paper would face a shortage in India when its per capita consumption of about 2 kg catches up with the global average of around 35 kg.

To be fair, in 1973 the country witnessed an unprecedented paper boom. Financial institutions liberally doled out loans to all paper mills without looking into their viability. More than 320 mini paper mills and about a dozen big paper mills started operations since 1976 and after 1980 all these new mills started closing operations systematically.

Wrong forecast
Recently, Ballarpur Industries accounting for almost 35 per cent of the Indian paper market shut down citing financial constraints and adverse market conditions. Just a year ago Sirpur Paper Mills, a leading producer also shut its mill citing adverse market conditions.

Thus the pundits’ forecast turned out to be mere bluff, like the Malthusian theory of population which predicted famine for an increasing population in geometric progression. Robert Malthus did not figure technology in food production.

In the case of paper, computers and telecommunications greatly displaced the use of paper. A compact disc of 700 MB can store matter than can be printed in 60 reams of paper (double demy) of 60 gsm equivalent to one tonne of writing /printing paper.

This means, India’s 2 million tonnes of writing and printing paper production can be stored in some 1350 hard drives of 1 TB, which can be kept inside a small shop of 1,000 sq feet. One can understand the economics behind this. Also, one can think in terms of easy retrievability of data from computers, or discs, when compared to hard copy retrieval from paper board files.

Almost all government departments, regulatory bodies negotiable instruments, bank transfers, and so on have switched to electronic data keeping thanks to itseasy retrievability, accessibility, speed and safety. Therefore, there can be no speakable growth rate in paper in future.

In 1990s, the production of paper in the US in writing and printing grade was around 90 million tonnes which has dipped to around 60 million tonnes; it is continuing to decline.

The US government which used to be a leading consumer of paper is now storing data in metallic tapes and computers. This substitutes consumption of around 33 million tonnes of paper. This is the position for all governments worldwide.

Most of the demand prediction in India was based on the increase in the income levels of the lower and middle level income group. As this populace graduates towards the upper income level, a fresh demand would be created especially through education. This under normal circumstances was true especially for a country like India where 36.4 per cent of the population was living below-subsistence levels.

Electronic invasion
Income level did increase as predicted and a good percentage of our population graduated to upper income levels. But consumption of paper didn’t go up as expected. The electronic media invaded. Children are now using smartphones and computers for learning.

A greater section of the younger generation, including the eligible working population, has now turned to electronic medium. Thus the anticipated demand for paper did not materialise.

The book publishing industry too had been greatly affected; though the reading habit has greatly increased, readers now use laptops and mobile platforms for reading, which offers them great convenience in terms of bookmarking and revisiting passages.

In the office segment the effect is profound. All files are now stored on internet-based (cloud) applications from Google, Apple, etc.. Demat of shares and downloading of public limited company balance sheets in company websites, electronic telephone bills, e-ticketing, all have impacted paper consumption.

What vanished in the meantime was manifold paper, manila pink cover paper, duplicating paper, bond paper, ledger paper, account book paper, share application paper, policy bond paper and so on. Only copier grade paper mainly used in taking print outs from electronic printers is in use. That is in short a shift in consumption pattern that happened due to technology.

Also, a sea change has taken place in the way pulp is made. Added by advancement in chemical engineering in gumming fibres, most nations use ash content or saw dust in their pulp for very good quality paper thus substituting precious long fibre coniferous trees. Time magazine is printed in six-colours on paper using 35 per cent ash content on advanced printing machines.

The road ahead
In the paper manufacturing process, the advancement in high-speed machinery consuming optimum energy and controlled by electronic sensors, resulted in immense cost reduction for paper mills. Also, the latest technology would help them to conform to green emission/pollutions norms.

In about 15 years, consumption for writing and printing grade paper would have declined tremendously. As a standing reference, one can note that big photo film companies such as Kodak or Konica had to shut down their production of photo films when smartphones arrived.

There is no point in Indian paper manufacturers blaming cheaper imports. Countries such as China, Indonesia, Malaysia, which have stronger currencies and better technologies, export to India. A focus on further cost reduction by implementing latest technologies would be a better option rather than to expect price increase through demand growth. For example, the ability to make copier grade paper in 40 gsm instead of the present 70 gsm should be the focus. The existing paper mills would survive only if they try to improve their pulping and paper machine technology instead of blindly adding capacity. However, packing grade paper such as kraft and duplex board may witness steady marginal growth due to rejection of plastics.

By TS Viswanathan, MD of Subramaniam Brothers, for www.thehindubusinessline.com

The UK stationery market is set to rise by 2,4% in five years, from £2,06-billion in 2016 to around £2,1-billion by 2021, according to new research.

Analyst firm Verdict Retail’s latest report states that this growth will be driven by the rising trend of purchasing stationery as gifts, increased product ranges, and design-led products and innovation.

The firm said new entrants such as Smiggle from Australia and the impending arrival of Typo, another Australian stationery retailer, have made the stationery sector more competitive.

“Low entry barriers have enabled new market entrants to experiment with product design, which has triggered increased interest in stationery, particularly among those aged 16-24,” says associate analyst Sarah Johns.

“Increased product choice of premium stationery and availability of extra services such as personalisation mean shoppers are increasingly opting for stationery products as gifts.

“UK retailers are benefitting from shoppers who purchase stationery for a variety of occasions. For example, stationery is bought for children for the back-to-school period, for seasonal holidays such as Christmas, and for other occasions such as birthdays and Mother’s Day.”

A survey conducted by Verdict Retail found that 57,4% of stationery shoppers were female, while 9,7% of stationery shoppers surveyed bought stationery online.

Meanwhile in the last five years, drawing instruments and accessories became the fastest growing categories and will continue to dominate in the next five.

However, growth of the paper and notepad, storage and other stationery categories slowed in terms of value and volumes in the negative, with expectations it would continue to decline in the next five years.

Verdict Retail says one of the main reasons for this fall in sales is the ongoing digitisation and the rise in ownership and usage of technological devices, meaning stationery is being used less and does not need to be replaced as frequently as it did a decade ago.

By Elias Jahshan for www.retailgazette.co.uk

For many industries, information flow has seen a remarkable transformation from paper media to digital in order to save time, space and money. Not to mention digital media tends to be more organised than paper-based information. Paper companies have not backed down to the industry threat, however.

The paper industry’s activism in the mutual fund space

“When the government planned to make it easier for mutual funds to quit mailing investors billions of pages of reports each year, the paper industry got involved,” says Andrew Ackerman of the Wall Street Journal.

According to the WSJ writer, American Mutual funds spend over $300-million every year for paper in order to send investors hundreds of millions of reports every year. Many of these densely written packets are tossed out and unread.

Last year, in order to save time and money, Securities Exchange Commission regulators began proposing a digital solution, not requiring funds to send hard copy reports to their investors. As part of the justification, only “24.5 percent said they would request a mailed hard copy” if the switch occurred according to the WSJ.

The paper industry strikes back

“The push for “logical progress,” however, was not progress to everyone, as the American Forest & Paper Association and the Envelope Manufactures Association teamed up to stop the proposal, added Ackerman.

The two paper groups jointly funded the Consumers for Paper Options group while rallying retirees and consumer groups “decrying what they call the government’s rush to digitalise,” says Ackerman.

“Millions of our fellow Americans will be left out in an information desert,” Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a Maine Republican leading the pro-paper faction, warned on the House floor July 6, according to WSJ.

In the end, the paper industry’s activism prevailed and the chairman of the SEC commission, Jo White, decided to drop the plan. White noted the plan had drawn “considerable attention,” and planned on a formal announcement this autumn, says Ackerman.

By Andrew Efimoff for www.benzinga.com

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My Office News Ⓒ 2017 - Designed by A Collective


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