UFlex turnover rises by 20% in the pandemic year

Profitability more than doubles in FY 2020- 2021

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Ashok Chaturvedi, Uflex
Ashok Chaturvedi, chairman and managing director of UFlex

UFlex, the Noida-headquartered global packaging film, materials, consumables, and equipment manufacturer, has released its results for the financial year ended on 31 March 2021 on a highly positive note. The company’s sales rose to Rs 8,890 crore (approximately US$ 1.2 billion) in FY 2020-21 in comparison to the slight dip the company experienced in the previous year’s sales at Rs 7,404 crore. (FY 2018-19 sales were at Rs 7,957 crore.) In addition, its net profit has more than doubled to Rs 843 crore (approximately US$ 114 million) in FY 2020-21 from Rs 370 in FY 2019-20, an increase of 127.8%.

The company was in the midst of expansion in several activities when the Covid-19 pandemic struck. Despite the total lockdown from 25 March 2020, it maintained operations throughout as a supplier to the essential goods supply chain. In addition, it produced PPG and sanitizer and new format containers for sanitizers from consumer product companies in the early days of the pandemic.

Throughout the year it kept on developing packaging materials and formats, improved its filling and sealing machines with new capabilities and kept up its global expansion projects with the installations of new film lines and the announcement of a greenfield project to come up in Karnataka in South India. Ashok Chaturvedi, chairman and managing director of UFlex spoke about the past year, “Our business network has weathered the disruption while also demonstrating resilience to cope with the ever-changing demands of the sector. We commissioned three of our projects in FY2020-21, a BOPET film line in Russia and another in Poland. In addition, we put in a new BOPP film line in Egypt with 42,000 TPA capacity, thus gaining an even wider reach globally.”

The company’s state-of-the-art film and packaging facilities in multiple locations in India have an installed capacity of around 1,35,000 TPA. Its Indian packaging film capacity combined with its packaging film manufacturing in the UAE, Mexico, Egypt, Poland, Russia, and the USA, cumulatively amount to 4,23,600 TPA.

Integrated within the company’s core business of flexible films and packaging, it has allied businesses such as aseptic liquid packaging, printing, and converting. In addition, its engineering division manufactures gravure and flexo presses and filling and sealing equipment. Its ancillary divisions include cylinder engraving, holography, and a chemicals division with a high standard of research and development for sustainable inks and coatings.

Environmental, Social and Governance practices

Uflex has for more than 25 years looked at the sustainability of flexible packaging and has generally championed the recycling of mixed plastic laminate structures. However, in the past several years, it has increasingly focussed on lateral recyclability and the development of new compostable and biodegradable structures and more sustainable processes and consumables partly emanating from its chemicals division.

Chaturvedi explains, “The pandemic did not dampen our focus on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) practices and we continue to accentuate our efforts on this front. After the success of post-consumer multi-layer mixed plastic waste and PET bottle waste recycling lines at Noida in India, we are in the process of replicating these at our overseas locations, at an even larger scale.

“At our Mexico facility, we are setting up plant to upcycle post-consumer PET bottles waste into high recycled content polyester PCR films, for flexible packaging applications and also propose to set up facilities to recycle post-consumer multi-layer mixed plastic waste to make molded, injection molded and extrusion molded components, all of which shall contribute to a circular plastic economy. In Poland, again, we are setting up plant to recycle post-consumer multi-layered mixed plastic waste to make various molded components.”

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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– Naresh Khanna

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