2020 was not the easiest ever for the French manufacturer! Particularly impacted by the decline in the luxury market, the company saw its turnover drop from EUR 17 million in 2019 to EUR 15 million in 2020. And the recovery proved to be slower than initially anticipated. According to Augros CEO, Didier Bourgine, the real economic rebound will take place during the second half of this year, in particular with the gradual restart of travel retail sales, which represent nearly 30% of the income of some luxury players.
Strengthening automation and quality
“We were able to use this low level of activity to work on R&D and the injection of new resins that are more virtuous in terms of CSR, we also used this slowdown to accelerate our investments in our MSV surface treatment unit,” explains Didier Bourgine.
The company, which employs around 150 people and operates two production sites in France, can complete all the production steps of a high-end packaging, including decoration and surface treatment thanks to the acquisition of the French company MSV in 1998. This latter steps are now the focus of Augros Group’s attention. “We launched the duplication of the coating capacity with the implementation of a new state-of-the-art automated line, which is also more respectful of the environment. It will be in operation at the end of 2021,” says the manager.
Augros has long relied on the automation of its processes. Since the 1990’s, the company has thus invested in the robotization and automation of its assembly and decoration lines in order to be able to offer its customers competitive prices together with top-of-the-range quality powered by reliable and repeatable processes free from human intervention.
“It was bold and differentiating at the time, and most importantly, it allowed us to survive the wave of offshoring by being more competitive,” continues Didier Bourgine.
If robots are a key element in the intensification of the company’s productivity, Augros does not neglect human expertise and know-how! Valérie Guittet was thus promoted to the role of Quality Director of the Augros Group. She will be responsible for the Quality Organization at both Augros sites.
In addition, as part of the strategy to produce more complex décor at the MSV surface treatment site, Augros has strengthened their expertise with the appointment of Philippe Avanzini, a recognized expert in the decoration of aesthetic parts in the automotive industry as Technical Director of their decoration division. “Today, in the plastics industry as in the glass industry, decoration is becoming an essential and inexpensive means of differentiation,” emphasizes Didier Bourgine. “Flankerization will intensify as it was the case with the glassmakers a few years ago.”
For the CEO of Augros ther is no doubt that “combining competitiveness, proximity and speed,” allows the company to regain market share against China, now “more expensive”, too far away from Europe’s luxury brands.
Greener packaging for the future
Beyond quality and competitiveness, the main challenges for the next 10 years will be to develop packaging solutions that meet today’s environmental challenges. According to Didier Bourgine, "90% of the plastic used in Europe will be recycled."
For 2025, the Augros group has committed to the objective of ensuring that more than 50% of their packaging production will comply with the 3R (recycled, recyclable, re-sourced).
In addition to offering recyclable materials to consumers, Augros is therefore seeking to generalize the use of recycled and decorative resins made with "High Solid” varnishes, which ensure a reduction of more than 80% of VOC emissions. While meeting the growing demand for "re-sourced" or "refillable" packaging offering. With a longer life cycle, the new solutions will have to be more aesthetic and of higher quality to induce and allow reuse and / or refill.
“Our real strength will be to work on complex materials - through their recycling circuit - while ensuring an aesthetic that meets the increased demands of consumers who are increasingly ‘Green’ and more and more demanding because they are educated in the luxury codes of this type of products. This is why, in the same way as we did for the automation in our plastics factory in France (Alençon), we are now intensifying our efforts in the ‘systemisation’ of varnish formulations and other surface treatment techniques capable of ensuring perfect aesthetics on any type of support, in particular recycled ones while being eco-responsible,” concludes Didier Bourgine, convinced that the luxury experience is bound to become “responsible”.