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Guala Closures

Guala’s Viiva has been out on the market for the past two years since the company first teamed with De Bortoli Wines to launch the industry’s first screw cap for full sized bottles of sparkling wine. The groundbreaking closure, Viiva, retains proper levels of carbonation for weeks after a bottle has been opened, maintaining product quality and minimising waste.

The market for Viiva can be seen in two segments: the retail market and the bars, restaurants and clubs market. Bars, restaurants and clubs see fantastic benefits as this market segment often sells by the glass. Getting retail to adopt Viiva has been a little more challenging. “The message has to be passed through to the consumer as to what the product is and what the benefits are,” explains Simon. “This has proven more difficult than expected thus far.”

The biggest brand of sparkling wines in Australia is Yellowglen which accounts for one in every four bottles sold in the country. Last fall, Yellowglen launched Yellow Brut Cuvée with both the traditional cork and the convenient and resealable Viiva cap. Guala has high hopes that this wine, available nationally from leading liquor retailers, will be the brand that helps to popularize Viiva. The company is also working with other large sparkling brand owners to encourage them to support Viiva.

It wasn’t that long ago that the majority of wines used corks, but that has changed dramatically since 2000. It took about four to five years from the launch of screw caps to them becoming accepted by the typical consumer. The Viiva is expected to follow a similar course.

“The volume gets unlocked when the big guys move,” Simon shares. “That happened in 2004 to 2005 and then it snowballed. From a five per cent share we jumped to a ninety per cent share in screw cap usage for wine in Australia in a relatively short period of time. Viiva is also an innovation and new products take time, and we have a lot of confidence in the benefits it gives the consumer.”

Globally, Guala Closures is focused on safety closures. These are high-tech, complex closures which offer the consumer anti-counterfeit and anti-tampering protection. Half of the company’s global volume, particularly in the spirits segment, is focused on these safety closures. Different counterfeiters use different methods to make cheap products look like more desirable brands. Obviously, copying the closure is a key element.

“A lot of those closures are applied on high end brands sold to high risk markets in Asia, Eastern Europe, as well as Central and South America, but the Asian market is the big focus. We work in the spirits segment globally, with our customers and their brand teams, to design custom solutions for their specific brands. These are based on their experience that they have had in the market with counterfeiting.”

Even though there are no major issues with counterfeiting in Australia, Guala Closures does export its products to high risk markets. The spirits segment is well covered so now the aim is to transfer the technology and anti-counterfeiting measures to the wine market. The main focus in the Asian markets lies within China, but India and Indonesia also have a need for anti counterfeiting measures.

That’s when Roll-On TE was devised. The TE in stands for tamper evident. Roll-On TE looks more or less like a normally applied screw cap but, when opened, a colourful ring appears. When one reapplies the cap, the image can’t be concealed. It remains visible, indicating that the bottle has been opened.

“The beauty of this technology, and the reason we came up with it, is that it is applied on existing glass finish – which is really important for our customers. It is applied using the same equipment which applies normal screw caps and so makes it very easy to adopt. It protects the brand by giving it something unique and visible that the customer can identify. It is also very difficult to counterfeit.” It is also very difficult to manufacture. The machines that manufacture the Roll-On TE closure and certain components are high tech and expensive, putting them out of reach of counterfeiters.

The challenge is in marketing Roll-On TE to Australian wine companies who sell in the traditional markets of the UK and US where counterfeiting is not a prevalent issue. “We are hoping that wine brand owners take a broader view of the global market, and the fact that most wine markets are Asia focused.” It will also make a statement about how much it values its brands, differentiate itself from its competitors and present the opportunity to apply preventative measures.

Australian industry, particularly in the manufacturing sector, is going through some challenging times. Simon believes that it has partly to do with consumer confidence or a lack thereof and consumers taking a more conservative approach. “We are seeing personal savings at record highs compared to five years ago. People are putting more money into their bank accounts which means less discretionary spending. “The high AUD also makes it difficult for our exporters,” Simon says.

Guala Closures, however, faces the challenges head on. As people spend less, they look for increased quality. “The key message is that while Australian trade conditions are tough, we are focused on delivering our customers value.”

Three to four years ago, several customers quite vocally challenged the company and asked what it was doing in terms of sustainability – particularly with regard to its carbon footprint. As it happens, Guala is serious about its corporate responsibility to the environment. “Being an aluminium producer, we thought we had a responsibility to the global community to make positive strides in reducing our carbon footprint. To know our footprint, we needed to establish a cradle to grave process for measuring it – from the production of aluminium through to putting the cap on the bottle and getting it to the customer. Once we did that, we were able to understand what our impact was on the environment.”

This took place under the banner of Ecocert Environnement, an independent, international body that certifies quality and environmental management systems. Ecocert verified that all criteria of the specifications had been met, including: quality, safety, optimising energy consumption and offsetting one hundred per cent of the company’s carbon dioxide emissions.

In 2013, the team undertook the planting of 80,000 trees in the impoverished state of Bihar, India. Not only were the seventeen types of trees contributing to carbon reduction but the jobs also provided that community with a source of income. The trees will support the region’s timber and biofuel industries providing environmental, social and economic benefits for a long time to come.

In North West Peru, the year prior, Guala Closures was involved in a reforestation program in the National Reserve of Yanayacu-Maquia, in the Loreto region in which 30,000 trees were planted. Both projects were certified by ECOCERT.

For all of its efforts, a lot of recognition and many awards have been given. On the tenth of April, 2014, it was awarded with four Alufoil trophies: two for Verso (the new closure system for edible oils) and one each in the Consumer Convenience and Technical Innovation categories. In 2013, it won for Viiva and, in 2012, for Roll-On TE. Obviously, it is making quite an impact on its industry.

Guala Closures is constantly looking to innovate with new technologies. The latest creation is called “Savin Premium”. Most screw tops are rolled onto the bottle neck finish, but the Savin’s strong, double-walled design’s internal thread is screwed on. This results in a clean looking smooth outer cap which is both attractive and offers clients additional branding opportunities.

Guala Closures already had a similar product called the WAK, which has been in the market for about five years. Its top section has a wider profile than Savin and is more reminiscent of a cork in appearance. Unlike the Savin, the WAK has a plastic threaded insert.

“We are investing in innovation and capability. As market leader, we feel that it is a key part of our strategy, and we will continue to invest in the future to deliver our customers value.”

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December 16, 2018, 3:54 PM AEDT