Monday, October 25, 2010

Uniplast Targets UK Plastic Market

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Saudi Arabian PE film manufacturer, Uniplast, has penetrated the UK market for plastic packaging through intensive and well-thought strategy formulation and aggressive implementation.

The United Kingdom is a prominent market in the plastic industry; however, penetrating this market is not easy with existing highly competitive players dominating the market.

Uniplast, allocating 80% of its revenue to its export business, approached the UK market leveraging on its experience, know-how, and capability as well as tackling possible future threats in the market.

Challenges: Leveraging on Competitive Advantages

Various factors come into play when approaching the UK plastic market. As 2009 studies by the B2B research specialist, Market & Business Development (MBD), show the UK market for plastic packaging faced a downturn due to the overreaching impact of the world economic crisis. However, market projections for the second half of 2010 and onwards look bright with an expected year-by-year market increase. [i]

Furthermore, forecasts state that growing awareness of environmental threats posed by plastic packaging disposal will limit the plastic packaging industry’s ability to expand greatly. Uniplast, however, has already begun oxo-biodegradable plastic film production trials, thus taking a proactive approach to the imminent threat in the market’s near future.

Rabih Ghanem, Uniplast Marketing Unit Head states,

“Today, we have reached a volume of 600 MT for stretch film and 100 MT for refuse sacks; in simple words: It was a battle well-fought…”
Strategy: Uniplast Approach to Effectively Enter the UK Market

Uniplast adopted a market development strategy by entering the new market with pre-existing products.

Uniplast’s strategy targets medium to large size wholesalers and packaging material manufacturers and focuses on providing good quality plastic films at competitive prices.

The polyethylene film manufacturer capitalized on sister company, Sanita UK’s established position, facilities and know-how in the UK market. Furthermore, the new entrant, Uniplast, leveraged on Sanita UK and the regional unit’s networking skills to spread its name throughout the market. With this support, Uniplast benefits from expansion initiatives, such as local invoicing, credit facilities, and after-sales services.

Uniplast’s success in effectively entering and gaining position in the UK market is attributed to exercising efficient and timely communication with Sanita UK and the regional team. The interaction and clear feedback between these three pillars attribute to a competitive edge over other overseas manufacturers.

Local suppliers, without hesitation, established strategic partnerships with Uniplast for products, such as manual stretch film , machine stretch film, refuse sacks, pallet covers / top sheets, as well as other plastic PE films.

Signs of Strategy Success

A significant sign demonstrating Uniplast’s success in penetrating the UK plastic market lies in the customer base it has acquired in such a short period of time.

Raji Bitar, UK Regional Manager, elucidates,

“I cannot but dedicate our successes to the efforts and selling skills of the late George Azar, former Sales Manager. He played a major role in creating a new selling technique for refuse sacks, which gave the regional team a new selling approach to help achieve further growth.”
Uniplast secured a significant market share in the United Kingdom by attracting marketing leaders: Manuli packaging, Eurofilms, Britton Taco, Golden Valley, IG Industries, Siva Plastics, Polythene UK, Bunzl and Castleview.

Jihad Frem, Uniplast General Manager, explains,

“Entering the UK market was a challenge. It was a test to prove our ability to deliver commodity products in a very competitive environment with high customer expectations in terms of quality and on-time delivery.

Uniplast had to revise and improve all of its cost elements from its resin blends to shipping cost to remain competitive vis-à-vis other European manufacturers dominating the market.

Despite the challenges faced, Uniplast, in coordination with the regional unit and Sanita UK, succeeded in acquiring a good share of the UK stretch film market... Refuse sacks market is next.”

Uniplast is a Napco company and a member of INDEVCO Flexible Packaging, a division of INDEVCO Group, the 'Local Multinational of the Middle East'.



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