Western Cape Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  03 Apr 2009

VENTURES: This Packager Bucks The Trend


Recent Western Cape Business News

CAPE TOWN-based Unsgaard & Samson, originally established in 1931, has a long tradition in the paper and packaging field. And although the paper and especially packaging sectors are currently experiencing difficult times, the company continues to grow its business niftily.

From its Lansdowne facilities of 4 300 sq m Unsgaard & Samson achieved a turnover of R60 million in its last financial year, up 20% compared to the previous year. Better still, it’s on track to maintain this growth trend for some time to come still, according to managing director Peter Samson.

Part of its strength flows from the fact that it’s a wholly-owned family business (the Samson family) with a loyal workforce of some 100 people, over half of which have been with the company for ten years and more, according to Samson.

Equally important, it has a business model which seems to make it immune to the vagaries of business cycles.

Consider the following: the company operates in niche markets supplying both manufacturing and catering customers with a range of specialised paper, plastic and non-woven products. This comprises waxed and coated papers, baking papers, filter papers as well as unique wipe materials.

The key then seems to be that quality products (Unsgaard & Samson is an ISO 9002 certified company) are provided and, being specialised, lucrative niche markets are serviced. Availability of product too is important.

Specialities of the company, for example, are absorbent tray liners or soaker pads. Not only is there a good demand for them locally, but they are also exported to many countries around the world.

Tray liners are the biggest single product of the company and are designed to absorb excess liquids from perishable foodstuffs (meat, poultry, fish and so on), keeping packs clean and attractive and prolonging shelf life.

The liners consist of moisture-proof polythene barrier sheet, with needle punched ‘pores’ to draw off excess liquids into an absorbent core and non-woven coverstock.

This is but one product-line, with many more finding their way to various other sectors of the economy (see separate article).

Being alive to market demand, especially niche markets, is, as we have said, a notable feature of Unsgaard & Samson.

Take the flower packaging market as an example. Although a relatively new division, headed by Jeremy Samson, the company has become a leading manufacturer of flower sleeves with clients including major high profile retailers such as Woolworths, Pick n Pay and Spar. It manufactures over 40 different sizes from either high gloss and crystal clear BOPP or from more affordable cast polyprop.

Sleeves can be custom made for bouquets, but they also carry a range of printed sleeves available from stock.

This division now represents almost 20% of the company’s business.

It seems to be getting rosier for Unsgaard & Samson by the year.


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