3 March 2004
Premium Work(HKTDC Packaging, Vol 01,2004)
|SCPPC Ltd has diversified from packaging into paper premiums and gift items while also investing in design and research and development|
Paper packaging and boxes are no longer enough to sustain a company in the cut-and-thrust world of printing, according to SCPPC Ltd's marketing manager Marcus Chow. To face the challenges of this increasingly competitive industry, the packaging company recently diversified into paper premiums and gift items.
SCPPC, which has operated since 1968, conducts much of its business in paper packaging items. The company has no plans to abandon its long-standing packaging product clients, and readily fulfils orders to their specifications.
"The decision to move into producing premiums came as we realised that margins from the paper printing business were diminishing and unlikely to improve," says Chow. He adds that the new line of premium items includes calendars, jigsaw puzzles, photo albums, jewellery boxes, stationery sets and games.
"The mark-up from premiums is better, and we are also planning to sell our own-brand products in the near future."
To this end, SCPPC is increasing its investment in design and research and development, although Chow stresses that such plans are still at an early stage. "At the moment we are still mainly making OEM goods," he says. "We have just started out in this business, and are learning about the technology and the craftsmanship involved."
Main markets are the US and Europe, with a largely diversified client base. Chow notes that the peak season is usually about July or August, as buyers prepare for Christmas, although the company accepts product orders all year round.
For packaging products, SCPPC's main clients are distributors in various markets, while it normally sells premiums through agents. "We also have a small, but growing, number of direct clients, whom we hope to develop," adds Chow.
The company can usually turn around orders rapidly, although Chow notes that lead-time depends on the product's design and specifications. Paper packaging orders can normally be filled in seven days, while premiums take up to four weeks, depending on the order quantity and complexity.
Chow identifies price pressure as the main challenge for the paper products industry, caused by a large number of competing companies. "The only way to overcome this is to constantly improve our product quality and reduce costs," he says. "Generally speaking, raw material costs are much the same throughout the industry, as most firms can source paper from anywhere in the world. We therefore have to find ways to make operational savings without compromising quality."
Quality is another important factor, and the company was ISO 9002-certified in 2000.
SCPPC has a five-storey, 150,000-square-foot facility in the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone on the Chinese mainland. The company moved into Shenzhen early, starting production there in the early 1990s. It shifted all its printing facilities to the mainland in 2000, to further improve cost efficiency. SCPPC employs about 700 workers, housed in two four-storey staff quarters next to the factory.
The company has made significant investments in technology, and offers complete on-site services such as pre-press, printing, overall or spot UV coating, laminating, die cutting, window patching and box gluing. It also has a fully computerised, six-colour printing machine with UV facility, imported from Germany, while the latest addition is a computer-to-plate (CTP) machine, which promises to dramatically speed up the production process.
"With this device we can now fully embrace digital printing," says Chow. "We no longer need to produce film transparencies, which will greatly increase production speed."
He estimates time savings could be as much as two or three days, while efficiency would also be greatly improved as designs can be transmitted direct from a designer's computer to the printing press.
"We can now edit designs right up until the last moment, and also save time in cases where a client decides to amend his film. Previously, we had to wait for a new transparency to be delivered before proceeding, whereas now we simply wait for a download," adds Chow. "The machine will be fully operational shortly, and our clients will soon gain the benefits from this new technology."
WRITTEN BY EDWARD CHUNG
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