It has been unkindly remarked that every edition of Narrow Web Europe reports on some aspect of beer, wine or spirits labels. This has nothing to do with your correspondents drinking habits but simply reflects the importance of this sector of the label market. This month is no exception, for news comes from Sweden's Munksjo of two new metallic films for beer labels. Part of Munkjo's Metalcote range, the new products are single-face coated papers for wet glue labels. To allow for differences in European legislation (some countries ban non-returnable bottles), the canny Swedes have developed a separate quality for returnables, which they say allows for a quick and efficient wash-off for the empty bottles. The new grades are being manufactured at the group's Stenay mill in France, which also produces clay-coated papers for release liners.
This comes as welcome news for the French paper and packaging industry, which has seen a spate of mill closures in recent years. Another encouraging sign for the French economy is the major investment by German-based Wepa in a new mill for tissue products, which also seems to indicate that France and its work ethic are not so dead-beat as some foreigners think. This is a pleasant change from the sharp words of an American investor just a few years ago, who was in line to buy a French tire factory. After looking at French labor laws, he concluded, publicly, that he wouldn't buy the plant in question, or anything else in France, even if it were offered to him on a silver platter with a slice of lemon and a sprig of parsley. (Those were not his exact words, but that was the gist of it.)
To get an idea of the changes beginning to permeate the French economy, it is useful to glance at a European study just published on productivity, which puts France 20% higher than Britain. Pundits (in France, of course) were quick to point out that this means that the French could take every Friday off and still be as productive as their dear friends across the Channel.
LABEL OEMS LOOK EAST AND SOUTH
Last month in this column, you could read about the success of Italian press manufacturer Nuova Gidue. This month, it must be the turn of Omet, whose head office and plant are set in the beautiful surroundings of the Alpine mountains and lakes. The company has well-survived the death of its founder-manager Angelo Bartesaghi in 2011. Half of Omet's business is in machinery for making tissue napkins, a highly...