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Tube manufacturers need to be flexible to survive the crisis, says trade body head

By Katie Bird , 20-Mar-2009

‘Flexibility, flexibility, flexibility’ should be the mantra of all European tube manufacturers if they want to weather the current economic storm, says the head of their trade body.

The European tube manufacturers association (etma) celebrates its golden jubilee this year and according to secretary general Gregor Spengler new challenges face its members in 2009.

Incoming orders started slackening in the latter half of 2008 and this trend has continued into 2009, he told CosmeticsDesign.

Troubles in the hair dye market

Certain markets, for example aluminium tubing for hair dye products, have been particularly badly hit, and Spengler said this is due to a change in consumer behaviour – people are waiting longer to dye their hair.

However, he noted the general robustness of the markets served, (cosmetics, pharmaceutical, food and dental care), and remains optimistic for the future of the sector.

“I think that customers have reduced their stocks lately, but one day they will have to replenish. This is a rough guess but I think by the last quarter of this year, orders will pick up again,” he said.

Nevertheless, there are other challenges facing the sector that require the utmost flexibility to overcome.

Orders placed at short notice

As the crises continues finished product manufacturers are losing confidence in the buying habits of consumers. As they don’t know how consumers will react they wait until the last minute before ordering new product lines, to be sure the market will be receptive to the launch.

This means they come to tube manufacturers with orders which they need very quickly, explained Spengler.

In addition, tube manufacturers need to be prepared for small runs. This combined with a trend for more elaborate designs, including embossing and printing demands as well as multifunctional closures, puts pressure on the efficiency of production lines.

For Spengler, these challenges are not insurmountable: “At the moment I don’t really see people going out of business, at least not at the moment, although I don’t know what will happen if the situation worsens.”

These new challenges will be the focus of etma’s annual congress which will be held June 10 – 12, in Istanbul and celebrates the trade body’s 50th year.

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