Stora Enso has acquired a 66 per cent stake in Polish Intercell, and indicated it may buy more in the near future, as part of the company's plan to expand its corrugated and board packaging businesses as well as get a foothold in the growing Polish packaging market.
Both corrugated and board paper-based products may be especially useful in the food packaging industry where producers are increasingly searching for robust yet reasonably lightweight packaging to make transportation cheaper and easier, according to a recent report by market analysts Euromonitor.
Intercell has three corrugated packaging plants in Poland and its paper and board mill in Ostroleka has an annual production capacity of 250,000 tons of containerboard and sack and kraft paper combined.
Stora Enso's board trays may attach themselves to an emerging trend towards microwave ready meals in Poland, with 25 per cent of Polish households now owning a microwave.
Company subsidiary Comital Cofresco produces Trayforma boards which are already used in ready meal packaging. Laura Grigoletto, product manager at Comital Cofresco, said: "Board-based trays are perceived as practical packaging material in the microwave use. They look nice and can be used as serving plates as such, also thanks to their pretty printing."
Demand for paper-based food containers such as folding cartons is also increasing by six per cent every year in Poland. According to Euromonitor, folding cartons have managed to latch on to the large growth of flexible plastic; food producers packaging their products in flexible plastic with a folding carton box to protect the product inside.
Stora Enso was confident about its latest acquisition which comes only a short time after the company posted a steady sales rise of around €45 million for the third quarter of 2004 compared to the same period last year. Total operating profit for the first nine months of the year was also up on 2003 figures, rising from €97 to €205 million.
No fee has been disclosed for Stora Enso's acquisition of shares in Intercell, which were bought from private shareholders as well as the investment arm of the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation, which held a 12 per cent stake.
Stora Enso is an integrated paper, packaging and forest products company with main markets across Europe, North America and Asia. In 2003 total company sales were €12.2 billion