Grupo Argraf, a reference Alavese company in the Spanish label manufacturing market, is once again in the news for its investments in machinery.
On this occasion, the new UV Miyakoshi MLP16C semi-rotary offset press, supplied by OMC, sae; is added to the Grupo Argraf’s machinery fleet so as to improve the service to the increasingly demanding world of wine and cava, its main market.
The new Argraf’s Miyakoshi MLP16C is the seventeenth model installed by the Japanese company in Europe and the first one to be installed in Spain. The fact that a company such as Grupo Argraf had decided to take the step towards this brand, being the first to reach the Spanish market, is of great importance.
Martín Torroba analyses the beginnings of this procedure: «We had reached a point in which we were already strong in the area of flexography and, as I honestly believe that we have made great improvements in this form of printing, I thought it was time to move forward in the Offset field. We started with a small Chinese machine which developed amazingly during the first months. Now, as we wanted to complement it with another offset unit, I have chosen to be more selective». That was where Miyakoshi, together with OMC, swung into action. «We studied several options and Miyakoshi’s was the one that we liked most in technological terms. It was a pure technical decision», he adds.
«In OMC, we have made a great effort to help Grupo Argraf install the first Miyakoshi MLP16C in Spain and we are very proud of that. More than a mere selling, it’s been rather a strategical operation», declares Enrique Rodríguez, Managing Director of OMC.
In September 2015, OMC constituted a joint venture with Miyakoshi in order to start Miyakoshi Europe from Madrid. «The Japanese commitment to the European market is serious and Spain was chosen to be the head office due to the type of product made by its machines: high quality labels for the world of wine, for example. For Grupo Argraf, this was a great opportunity. In a reference company like ours, we couldn’t count on just any equipment, but on a setting which really had it all to make a difference: extended format, automatic register control systems… Despite being a rotary machine, the technology it uses is much more similar to that of a cutting-edge sheet-fed offset press rather than that of a flexo press for labels. Added to this, its high production fitted very well. For all these reasons, they considered the decision to be a mere technical issue».
«All the machines incorporated in Grupo Argraf, often bear the name and surname of the client through whom they have been acquired, and this is not an exception. We were looking for equipment capable of doing special jobs, with high quality demands and, in short, which offered a really good offset printing. This was exactly what we saw in the Miyakoshi’s MLP16C», continued Torroba.
Technical specifications of the Miyakoshi’s MLP16C installed in Grupo Argraf
Max. Web width: 420 mm
Max. Print width: 406,4 mm
Repeat length: 215,9 – 406,4 mm
Unwinder + Flexo UV + 6 Offset UV + Flexo UV + Die with K&B gap master + Rewinder
Does this mean that, for Grupo Argraf, today rotary offset printing stands out above other technologies?
Martín Torroba’s answer is stimulating: “Unsurprisingly, flexo is not as good quality as offset. However, I always say that, in Grupo Argraf we have considerably improved flexo and this can be seen in the labels we produce now, if compared to those of the years before. We have radically improved thanks to photopolymers, thanks to flexo lamps’ drying capacity and because working with wine labels requires companies to make a difference and to obtain quality finishes. This forces you to specialize».
«Miyakoshi’s machine has come to perform a special task; something that only offset can do». «Whoever buys this kind of label is buying an image. This is the product’s most critical part during its commercialization and nobody wants to take risks», clarifies Enrique Rodríguez and continues: «With this equipment, Grupo Argraf is going to eliminate these risks».
«Indeed, if the product is not properly dressed, it is doomed to fail. We are fortunate because in the world of wine and cava, the label and its capacity of differentiation are highly valued. There are 6.000 bottlers of different sizes in Spain and, for all of them this is a key element», remarked Martín Torroba.
The six-color rotary machine has been in production since mid-February, however, the personnel training phase took approximately three months to be completed.
If there is one thing that distinguishes this company based in Oyón, it’s a well-planned business strategy in which investments in the latest technologies are fundamental and progress satisfactorily. Martín Torroba, Manager of Grupo Argraf, has a good nose for detecting his customer’s needs and, as a consequence, move forward in their same direction by accompanying them in their projects with the most suitable machinery for their requirements.
Because the customer, and nothing else, has always been the engine of change and adaptation of Grupo Argraf to the new trends. Their requirements in terms of design, printing and finishing of their labels have always been diligently met by the use of new machinery, which came to complement, improve and expand the one already existing. As confirmed by Torroba: «Grupo Argraf has always made progress hand in hand with its customers; their success is our success».
It is worth pausing to examine the always interesting reflections made by Martín Torroba on the condition of the label market in Spain, the economic performance and his vision of the company.
«Grupo Argraf is a reference family-owned business with an organic growth based on an internal development, achieved through daily effort, rather than on buying companies. The truth is that we can’t complain», asserts with pleasure the Manager. The figures speak for themselves: «With a turnover of more than 22 million euro, this 2015 we have grown by 7.1% with respect to the previous year, which represents a cumulative growth of 30% with respect to the year 2007, the last year before the economy collapsed. In 2010, we started to grow and in 2011, we had already reached the same sales levels as in 2007. Since then, we have been growing every year and we hope to continue doing so in 2016, because our ambition is not to be the first, but to be strong and have an effective and well-prepared unity in terms of technology with structures capable of bearing this growth». That is Grupo Argraf’s great objective.
Thus, the foundations are laid down. Martín Torroba’s obsession is, and has always been, effectiveness; to respond effectively to customers. «We were strong at sheet label printing and, in 1999, when only 3% of labels were made on self-adhesive material in La Rioja, our nearest market, we followed a customer who chose self-adhesive and decided to install the first machine of this kind. Today, the 60% of our labels are self-adhesive. We have just tracked the development of our customers. We have grown up with them, from sheet to self-adhesive, to keep on providing them an effective service».
This evolution, of course, has required continued investments in technology, personnel training and in the conditioning and expansion of facilities. «Furthermore, we have had to make all this with the aggravating factor of moving to self-adhesive, which has taken a greater effort if we compare it to other graphic arts companies which have always dedicated to self-adhesive and haven’t gone through this process of change. We do have gone through it, as quickly as our clients requested and, in addition, we have become leaders of this segment in Spain», explains Torroba.
The fact is that the Alavese company enjoys a clearly deserved reputation due to the quality of its work. «The basis of our success comprises two main points», analyses Martín Torroba: «The first one is design. We have helped to design. We have accompanied marketing experts, drawers and wineries designers as well as their advisors and this has proven to be our major battlefield; and the second one is label enhancement or, in other words, finishing. Our expertise in finishing allows us to improve the brand identity. This does not occur in other sectors but, as regards wine, it is of vital importance».
To sum up, design, investment and technology have been the main driving forces of Grupo Argraf. As the Manager asserts, «we know our customers and their products; we know the machines they have and the speed at which they want to bottle. For this reason, we buy what best suits the potential of capitalizing what our customers want in an industrial way rather than traditionally, because we cannot be artisans; we are not working on that».
What about the state of the label industry?
«As we see it, in our industry, wine, the Spanish domestic consumption, unfortunately, is not increasing, and this is due to the unrest generated by unemployment and misgovernment; a situation of uncertainty. However, in the wine sector, what actually works is exportation and, these past few years have contributed to considerably strengthen the foreign sector», he explains.
But there are signs that lead us to be confident: «the self-adhesive labels sector in Spain will continue to grow. We are currently at an approximately 60% of self-adhesive while in Central Europe they are at a 70%. In five years we will have exceeded the 70%, which represents an assured increase, and this will result in an annual growth of 5-8%, generally speaking, for our industry. If the Spanish economy activated more quickly than the currently foreseen, we would have a greater increase, because, especially wine consumption requires the customer to be more confident».