Just a couple of kilometres away from Catalonia’s famous Montmeló Grand Prix circuit, you will find the new headquarters of the board and paper supplier Comart. The company relocated to these state-of-the-art premises last year, which also marked their 50th year in business. The move to this 17,000 square metre facility was accompanied by a EUR 6 million investment in new machinery. This enhanced the company’s capability to respond quickly to its clients’ needs. The new Montornès de Vallès site is an important part of the growth and internationalisation of this company, which is already the market leader in Spain and Portugal.
Comart has definitely come a long way from its origins in a modest Barcelona location. The founding idea of the company was to provide the Spanish packaging industry with quality board along with excellent service. According to the CEO Ernest Ginjaume
, who represents the third generation in this family business, “this has proven to be a visionary decision over the years”. Comart was founded in 1965 by his father, Lluis María Ginjaume Torras, but the origins of the company go even further back, as in 1929 Ginjaume’s grandfather had a patent in the Spanish market for spiral bind notebooks, which was lost, however, in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War.
Since the very early days of Comart, there has been a commercial partnership with Metsä Board and its predecessors. In the words of Ernest Ginjaume, “this has been an excellent long term relationship”. Sales director of Metsä Board Iberia, Francisco González
, has been with the Madrid-based offices for over 30 years, but the two companies’ partnership goes even further back. “Comart was already an existing customer when I started to work with Metsä Board”, points out González. Maybe the best evidence of this long relationship with the Nordic company is the fact that the founder of Comart, Lluis María Ginjaume Torras, is honorary consul for Finland’s Honorary Consulate General in Barcelona, a title that he now holds in emeritus.
Quality still in demand
Many things have changed over the years but quality is something that clients are still looking for. Spain has traditionally been a market where price dominates, but many of Comart´s clients work for the export industry, so they are not solely dependent on the local marketplace. Some of its clients come from luxury-product segments such as perfumes. Ginjaume points out that “the packaging of this kind of products is a way to transmit brand image”. For example, Comart works with clients that supply Puig, one of the big names in the perfume industry, with a portfolio including well-known brands such as Carolina Herrera, Jean Paul Gaultier or Shakira.
In the perfume sector, packaging reinforces the brand image, which is built upon focused marketing and advertising efforts. In this industry, packaging is also part of the overall customer experience, with design elements such as colours, shapes and an overall high-quality feel. Often customers at the point of sale see the box first, then the bottle. Packaging may have started as a means to protect the product itself, but now it can be a tool to protect customers from imitations.
In the process of making the perfect customer experience, every detail counts. Board quality is key to further stages in packaging production such as printing and inclusion of special effects like embossing.
Besides transmitting brand messages, the package has many other – often equally important – functions, such as guaranteeing product safety and providing protection against falsifycation. In Ginjaume’s opinion, “packaging may have started as a means to protect the product itself, but now it can be a tool to protect customers from imitations”. Packaging can also ensure product safety, which is extremely important, for example, in the case of medicines.
Comart’s clients also demand quick responsiveness to demand. Ginjaume explains that “the market has changed in that there are now many demand peaks and consumer campaigns in a year, so we usually do shorter orders than before”. The Spanish economic crisis was one factor behind this development – clients simply stopped placing orders for months ahead as the market became unpredictable.Comart CEO Ernest Ginjaume (right), with sales director of Metsä Board Iberia, Francisco González.
Caring for the carbon footprint
The sustainability of the packaging material is also an important factor. Ginjaume points out that “clients demand a strong local supply chain. They are aware about recycling and certificates and for them it’s also important to know from which part of the world the raw material comes from.” Board material from Metsä Board mills is shipped to Bremen in Germany and arrives in Barcelona by train. “I believe in the future of train transportation. It’s ecological, safe and efficient,” Ginjaume notes.
One part of overall eco-friendliness is decided when the board is cut. The aim in Comart is to reduce left over material through the use of fully automated cutting lines where every board roll is registered and weighed after use. Any usable left over material is also carefully recycled. At Comart there’s a large storage area exclusively dedicated to left over pieces that are waiting for proper use.
In reducing carbon footprints, board quality can also play a part. As Francisco González puts it, “premium board material can produce the same rigidness in packaging with fewer grams per square metre. This results in less raw material use.