Oppboga Bruk mill targets UK sign and display market

Sarah Cosgrove
Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Swedish paper mill Oppboga Bruk is on a drive to expand its sales in the UK sign and display market following the appointment of a British managing director.

Andrew Robinson worked at Tullis Russell Papermakers between 2008 and its administration in April last year, first as a graduate trainee in sales and marketing and eventually as an area sales manager with a focus on developing emerging markets.

He was given the job of finding new business in central and eastern Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East, to replace business eroding in developed markets and did that, he said, “until the bitter end”. He said he knew the writing was on the wall but decided to stay.

Such loyalty did him no harm as on 3 July 2015 he joined Oppboga Bruk as export sales manager and within a year was offered the managing director role, which he took up on 1 February.

Oppboga Bruk’s twin-sided display board brands include Oppboga Excellent, Eminent, Nova, Opponent and TS Special.

“The mill is well placed in Europe in particular but we've reached a saturation point. The UK is a market we've never fully got a grip on,” he told PrintWeek

"With myself coming on-board and being a Brit we started to make some traction last year. We knew there was something in it for us if we gave it the time and attention that was needed

Robinson is now turning his skills and experience back the other way and growing the UK market for Oppboga Bruk exports.

“The UK is a relatively large market for display boards. We are the number one or two in display boards in Sweden, France, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, large parts of western Europe. Excellent Display Board is our main product; I would say it’s the market leading premium display board in Europe.

“What we’ve found is that product – it’s a very good product, but unfortunately in the UK it’s probably over specified in a lot of places. It was offering things that people weren’t willing to pay for.”

The company has developed a new display board for the UK market which, Robinson said, is “more in line in terms of quality and price” and partnered with Swanline Paper & Board in the UK to sell it under the Swanline brand.

The Cygnus Display Board, which launched last month, is FSC-certified, fully recyclable and biodegradable and comes in seven grades of 510gsm and 1,000 microns thick up to 1,470gsm and 2500 microns thick. Sheets are available to up to 1.7x3.6m in size.

“It is a shape that is not so usual,” said Robinson. “We can do the large sizes for the wide-format printers. The HP Scitexes, the Dursts, we can do a full-size sheet which can be printed inline in one pass.

“Another reason we’ve been very successful in Europe overall is our products have been renowned for their flatness. When you make display board you sandwich layers with glue and when you add adhesive you add moisture so you can end up with curl or a wave and that’s a nightmare for printers. In offset you can smash the blankets.

“We control moisture throughout so at the end we’re left with the same moisture level that we have at the beginning.” 

Robinson said he saw the display board market as stable as a large amount is used for point-of-sale applications that thrive even in difficult economic conditions as brands invest more to stand out from the crowd.

Swanline Paper & Board is the recently launched merchanting arm of trade printer Swanline Print and prides itself on what it calls “cost-neutral sustainability”.

Managing director Ross Griffin said: “Sustainability is becoming a massive focus for the printing and packaging sector and buy-in from customers is almost universal. We made the conscious decision to take a stand for sustainability by focusing on products that could meet industry demands not only in terms of performance, flexibility and innovation, but also from an eco-friendly angle – but for the same or lower cost as the traditional equivalents.”

Oppboga Bruk also sells laminated boards direct from the mill to packaging converters, aimed at the luxury packaging and beverage markets. 

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