RETAL & Refresco – Bespoke Standards

The unstoppable trend for globalisation brings challenges as well as benefits for the packaging industry. For every task in a new location that is rendered easier because of standardised practice, there can be a specific local situation that goes unrecognised, and for every multi-site agreement, there can be working relationships that may not run smoothly. By understanding that large-scale partnerships need to cleverly walk the delicate line between global and local, both players can flourish. Emma-Jane Batey speaks to industry leaders to learn more.

Global brands need global packaging partners, but that doesn’t mean that everything must be the same in every market. Indeed, it is the specific changes relevant to each market within a major brand that truly adds value. By understanding what elements need to be different when most must actively stay the same is the challenge, and where the strong relationship between the individuals that represent each player need to be on the same team.

Globalisation for multinational brands demands packaging solutions that deliver continuity, not just for marketing purposes, but also with regards to meeting strict CSR targets and getting best economies of scale. Gennadiy Khmelevskiy, Global Key Account Manager at plastic packaging producer RETAL, works with leading brand partners to ensure continuity and flexibility. He says, “Maintaining quality is expected across all aspects of working with global partners, but that doesn’t mean that everything is the same everywhere. The details specific to local markets is important, as is knowing the preferences of each team in different locations.”

Partners for partners

RETAL is a packaging partner for Refresco, the ‘world’s largest independent bottler of beverages’, producing over 30 million of the world’s most recognised drinks across its more than 60 manufacturing sites worldwide, including many that it has acquired directly from the drinks brands themselves and continues to operate solely for those A-brands. With a name in the beverage industry almost as famous as the brands they represent, Refresco’s Senior Central Purchasing Manager Martijn Tempelaar speaks open and honestly…and expects the same from his carefully chosen partners. Tempelaar says, “Refresco has grown rapidly in the last 18 years with lots of acquisitions of leading beverage brands. We work with everybody that needs our help; brands want to focus on brand development and marketing, so we step in to produce and bottle their product with speed and reliability. To make that happen we need the right partners, companies and people with the same DNA that has made Refresco such a success.”

Khmelevskiy appreciates that working in partnership with Tempelaar and the Refresco team needs that compatible DNA; an understanding that straight talking, results driven actions must come from a place of fairness and reliability. RETAL produces PET and rPET preforms and HDPE closures for Refresco. Khmelevskiy adds, “‘Creating solutions’ has been the RETAL strapline for some time; working with Refresco is a real manifestation of that promise. Our partnership started when RETAL successfully tendered for a project with Refresco Benelux, and we all valued how well we worked together. Being able to produce and provide the right product at the right volume, with the right technical solution with the best price performance ratio is of course imperative, but it’s what goes beyond that make it possible to enjoy our partnership. As a dedicated sales and service person, it’s particularly important for me to diagnose the pain point in my customer’s business and then find an agile service solution that heals that pain. I also rely on our excellent service team, who can get to any Refresco business unit within 24 hours.”

Khmelevskiy is RETAL’s single point of contact for Refresco and regularly communicates with Martijn and Refresco’s procurement managers at each plant to ensure every element of each project is clear and progressing as agreed, with the capacity for the cooperation to develop strategically as required. He adds, “Keeping open communication with my Refresco contacts means that I stay aligned with Refresco’s HQ in Rotterdam as well as understanding the evolving needs of each business unit.”

Lean and sustainable

Tempelaar agrees that being able to create solutions that can be quickly adapted for other locations helps to make a profitable partnership for both parties, noting, “We have as few partners as possible and RETAL is one of them. It is far easier to work with a smaller number of partners and repeat whatever elements of the project can be repeated so we’re focused on the aspects that need to be changed. Building up trust is a long-term priority for us, and I trust Gennadiy and the RETAL team.”

With globalisation comes standardisation, yet it is the sometimes small aspects that can and must be created in a bespoke manner that allows for those long-term relationships to perform well to everyone’s advantage. For RETAL and Refresco, being open about future plans and sharing expectations means that each party can be clear about what is needed for the partnership to continue to be successful, and that is largely driven by personality as long as the practical promises are kept.

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