Australia's second largest packaging company, Visy Industries, used 2004 to consolidate, after a period of rapid expansion and acquisitions, and spent money on upgrading its facilities and technology with a view to increasing competitiveness and reducing or containing costs.
Chief executive officer Harry Debney said for most of this year, Visy Industries had enjoyed growth in line with the economy, but there had been a noticeable pick up in the past four months.
"After several years of expansion through acquisition and new factory investments, 2004 was a year which saw us concentrating on optimising product performance and light weighting across all our packaging mediums.
This increasingly involves much more use of technology and higher skills because we've already picked the low hanging fruit, so to speak," Debney said.
Another big issue had been supply chain economics. Visy had worked with the fruit and produce industry and the major supermarkets to introduce a one way comprehensive packaging solution for the supermarkets' one-touch shelf ready requirement.
"The supermarkets are looking for efficiencies in their supply chains and we've been working hard on new footprints, on new packaging designs and new packaging systems to meet their demands," Debney said.
Visy had continued to 'refresh' assets and put in new technology to keep improving the cost base.
Examples had includes the upgrade of the Visy Paper 4 machine, a number of new flexo, rotary die cutters across Visy Board, an upgrade of the beverage can plant at Smithfield, the introduction of new formats in Combibloc and the purchase of new stretch blow moulders for the PET division.
"In terms of growth for 2005, we are already well down the path of a further upgrade of Tumut Pulp and Kraft mill which will add another 30,000 tonnes capacity," he said.
"We are undertaking further development of our exciting microflute program for both food and beverage applications, and we are installing new PET hotfill capacity which will be world class and introduce new capabilities to the Australian market.
"Following on from our acquisition of a new point of purchase displays business in 2004, we will be perusing further growth and development of our displays offering and we expect to proceed with further expansion of our Visy Board corrugated capacity over the next 12 months," Debney said.