Place: Italy, Riva del Garda, on the Trentino shores of the namesake lake, in the realm of woodfree coated papers. Here we have tried to explore what is going on in a niche productive segment currently undergoing severe downsizing interventions. Cartiere del Garda stands out from this complex context with the aim of remaining the reference company for high range productions.
The Lecta Group
The group is present in Europe and on market outside Europe with a number of companies, including the Italian Cartiere del Garda, and two other major paper manufacturers, i.e. Torraspapel in Spain and the French Condat. The establishment of the Lecta Group at the end of the 1990s was an important landmark in contributing to the consolidation of the fragmented European paper sector, with 90% of the coated paper supply today coming from six major industrial groups, including the Lecta Group. Specifically, the Lecta Group is currently the second largest European producer of woodfree coated papers, which represent its core business, and boasts a production capacity of about 1,3 million tons a year. Other activities of the group include the production of special papers and coated fine papers.
They have listened to the market, observed the direction of its trends and interpreted its requests. This is how a historical Italian paper mill, which is now part of the Lecta Group has generated a new woodfree coated paper bound for the high range market of he publishing industry. GardaMatt Ultra is the name of the paper manufactured from the productive lines of Cartiere del Garda.
«The new paper basically answers a need emerged from the top segment of the publishing sector, which in illustrated books is trying to come back to the past, i.e. to a really matt paper», says the company sales manager Nicola Tisi. «Modern coated papers normally feature a very smooth and even surface, thereby enhancing printing brightness and providing for a high degree of lucidness, which however maintains a translucid appearance. Our GardaMatt Ultra paper, instead, is a really matt paper providing for a peculiar feeling upon the touch due to surface porosity, which also provides for higher thickness. Compared to the traditional matt coated papers with volumes ranging from 0.87 and 0.9 mm, this new coated paper is nearly 1.0 mm thick, almost halfway between a silk and a thickened paper. It comes in the 115, 130, 150 and 170 gr/m² paper basis weights and can be FSC or PEFC certified upon request».
GardaMatt Ultra completes the «Collezione Eccellente», i.e. Excellent Collection, which is exclusively produced in the Cartiere del Garda plant, specialised in the production of woodfree coated papers. The multilayer “blade on blade” coating is a fundamental technological feature of the production process, which allows obtaining matt and glossing papers providing for a high degree of smoothness and printing performance.
With the new matt coated paper the Riva del Garda paper mill has given an answer to a market trend in the top range publishing sector. Yet, Mr. Tisi rightly stresses the importance that «coated papers include a wide mix of papers well-suited for all the aspects that publishers, creative artists or designers deem important in a final product».
The decision to extend their collection of coated papers with a high end product is perfectly in line with the market strategy of Cartiere del Garda. «The high level of performance of our paper mill», says the company General Industrial Manager Giovanni Lo Presti «made it possible for us to reach increasingly competitive performance levels, thanks to which we are now in a position to better cope with the current market crunch. Our objective is to continue providing a high quality and high range products, though limiting costs wherever possible. All this is done without compromising our products’ quality in general, from image to technical assistance».
In order to remain competitive on the market it is therefore necessary to concentrate our efforts on a constant attention to details, which is in turn translated into a policy that pays attention to safety, quality and the environment. «We are the forerunners of these policies, which we have always considered to be our own ones, as shown by the fact that we were among the very first companies in the early 2000s to receive environmental certifications: we obtained the ISO 14001 certification in 2000 and the EMAS certification in 2005, then followed by the FSC and PEFC Chain of Custody certifications, the certification of adequate use of energy according to a standard, which later on became the Energy Management Certification ISO 50001, and the OHSAS 18001 certification on occupational safety. At the end of 2013 we finally obtained the ISO 9001 certification (Quality Management System), as well. Attention to any single detail is thus part of our very own way of doing business».
Mr. Lo Presti believes that these aspects have today enabled the company to affirm itself as a credible player on the market and defend its position: «we are convinced that this will make the difference and will remain the best strategy of all also in the years to come». He goes on explaining that a thorough reorganization of the industrial sector will be of course necessary. As a matter of fact, since the onset of the economic crisis the European woodfree coated papers sector has shrinked by 25% and as a consequence had to adapt its capacities and reduce production by about 3,2 million tons a year from the over 10 million tons in 2007 to today’s 7 million tons.
«This reduction is partly due to general economic situation, with the economy entering the crisis in 2008 still not being able to recover. However the other structural reason for this reduction has to be ascribed to the development of new media and the drop in the use of paper supports as a means of advertising and communication, with this trend still going on».
Mr. Lo Presti goes on saying that as of today there is a situation of production excess capacity, with inevitable repercussions on the sales price of high added value graphic papers, for which industrial costs have become impossible to bear. European producers in the trade will have to intervene with further reorganization measures: «I personally believe that we an additional annual drop in demand of 5% is to be expected for the next three years».
Beyond coated papers
Against this background, the strategy followed by the Lecta Group, which is currently the second largest producer in the field of wood free coated papers in Europe, has been to reduce supply in this specific field, thereby converting productions on other types of paper. «As a group we are already present on the market with special papers, ranging from self-copying paper, to thermic, metal and packaging papers, and lines of products beyond the field of graphic papers. These sectors will be reinforced, without however abandoning the field of woodfree coated papers and the Cartiere del Garda mill will be one of the few production sites of the latter».
«As for us, we believe that we have all what it takes to overcome this difficult moment», says Mr. Lo Presti, who believes that 2014 will be a critical year marking a major change for the market and the sector organization. «We are constantly in touch with our most important customers in order to understand and interpreter the features of our products, which should be developed to best meet their needs, and we are always on the lookout for new solutions capable of providing added value to final users. We are not giving up and we will continue believing in the future of our sector».
GardaMatt Ultra completes the Collezione Eccellente, meeting the needs of the high end segment of the publishing sector, which is looking for a new woodfree matt coated paper for illustrated books.