Packaging News Interviews Iain Percival on Innovations and Sustainability at Essentra

06 Oct 2020

Waqas Qureshi from Packaging News spoke to eight businesses in the cartons sector who remain strong and resilient throughout the challenges during 2020. Read more to learn how the packaging sector is keen to focus on sustainability, innovation and investment.

As specialists in the secondary packaging health and personal care markets, Essentra Packaging was approached to provide our insights into the challenges for the industry during 2020. Iain Percival, Managing Director for Essentra Packaging provides insight into the recent developments in sustainability and innovation for secondary packaging and the effect of the pandemic on the industry.   


About Iain

Iain Percival is the Managing Director for Essentra Packaging and joined Essentra as Managing Director in 2017. Due to his experience in category management, Iain was interviewed by Packaging News to discuss innovations and challenges for manufacturing and supply chain optimisation.


About Packaging News

Packaging News is at the heart of the UK packaging supply chain, offering news, expert analysis and insight on every aspect of the packaging supply chain, from brands and retailers through to design agencies, suppliers of glass, metal, plastic, corrugated and cartonboard packaging, label printers, contract packers and waste management businesses.


The interview:

Read the full interview with Iain Percival (Managing Director, Essentra Packaging) and Waqas Qureshi (Editor, Packaging News) below, request a copy of the Packaging News issue from our team, or visit the Packaging News site to download a copy of the September 2020 issue, here.



How was the full year in 2019 for you and the sector generally?

Essentra Packaging delivered our best financial and operational performance during 2019, since 2015. Our focus market sectors Healthcare and Beauty remained strong during 2019 due to a growing, more affluent and ageing population, driving both increased volume and more segmented products. We have multiple best practice initiatives within our operations: planning, global quality reporting and standardised colour management delivering agility to meet customer needs.


Describe the effects the Coronavirus pandemic had initially to your company and how your company adapted.

In response to the pandemic Essentra Packaging has remained resilient and focused on four key priorities; first priority is safeguarding our people, physically, emotionally and financially; second priority is supporting our customers through regular updates and implementing network supply solutions to ensure delivery of life saving medicines; third priority is managing our cash flow to ensure we keep the company viable and can continue to deliver on our priorities; fourth priority is building for the future through working closely with our customers to share learnings from this experience.


What markets do you operate in? Are there any new ones you want to target?

Essentra Packaging’s focus is on the Healthcare and Beauty markets. Geographically we are part of a global Group and we as a division have 24 manufacturing locations across Europe, America and India. This allows us to invest our resources to develop an understanding of both the customer and product needs within those markets.


What are the main issues/focus in various sectors – pharma, food, gifting etc.

Essentra Packaging has an important role within our supply chain, manufacturing secondary packaging for vital, often life-saving medication for patients.
Our teams continue to work closely with our customers, managing changes in demand for specific products, fast-track product launch support whilst meeting the need for authentication, patient adherence and track and trace product features.


Have you made any major investments in the last 12 months?

In the last 12 months, examples include the successful addition of the Spanish-based Nekicesa Packaging to the Essentra Packaging team. Capability investments have included additional investment in both digital and flexographic printing within the Essentra network and complex literature investments to reflect our customer’s emerging needs. Despite the challenges of COVID-19 we are carefully managing our cashflow to continue to invest with our fundamental value of keeping people safe and ensuring we deliver the best product quality.

What new print technology has caught your eye over the last year? And what should we be looking out for?

For the markets that we serve we see the trend for more focused drug treatments that lead to reduced batch sizes and the need for a more agile supply chain. So, we are keenly reviewing the application of digital and hybrid technologies to meet this changing market environment.


Is the cartons sector getting its recycling and sustainability message out enough?

The role of the carton sector in the broad topic of sustainability is a very important one to me personally. Our carton materials come from sustainable and responsible sources, and I feel it is important that we continue to educate consumers regarding the sustainable sourcing and responsible disposal of materials to enable recycling.


Have there been any new innovations or any standout projects this year? 

The team continue to work closely with our customers on supply chain innovation to deliver value through efficiency, technology and network “best-fit” solutions. During this year we have responded to several customer escalated COVID-19 medication development projects. We are proud to be part of the supply chain to reduce the COVID-19 effects.


How are you forecasting your company and the cartons sector to perform in 2021?

I feel positive about the future. As a key packaging product with a lot of value add for our customers and their consumers. Cartons have demonstrated a positive, sustainable position and therefore I believe have a bright future for continued growth.


If you had one message to your industry peers as the world slowly emerges from the Coronavirus pandemic, what would it be?

“Safeguarding our people”. This is my number one priority. We can’t let our guard down; we still need to continue being more agile and flexible in our leadership thinking and business planning to respond to an increasingly VUCA world (Volatile/Uncertain/Complexity/Ambiguity)”.


If you would like to speak to the team, or request a copy of the issue,

get in touch via [email protected].