VPK Packaging Group, a Belgium-based manufacturer of packaging products, has acquired SolidPack, a Dutch counterpart with revenues of more than €50 million. Around 175 employees, all based in Netherlands, transfer to the new owner and will be bundled with its Smart Packaging Solutions division.
With 4,800 employees, across 46 production sites in 16 countries, VPK Packaging Group is one of the larger European manufacturers of packaging goods, producing products such as recycled paper, corrugated board, solid board and tube packaging.
The group, headquartered in Aalst, Belgium, has seen rapid growth since its owner, the Macharis family (one of the richest families in East Flanders), took the company off the stock exchange in 2012. Lifted by a series of acquisitions of cardboard and paper producers in, among others, the UK, France, Poland, Ireland and Scandinavia, the firm last year for the first time in its history broke through the barrier of €1 billion in turnover.
In January, VPK Packaging Group announced that it has also expanded its footprint in the Netherlands, with the full acquisition of SolidPack, a local player founded in 1921. The Dutch company, based in Loenen (close to Apeldoorn), produces around 65,000 tons of packaging for mainly the meat, fish and flower industries, generating approximately €50 million in revenues, realised by 175 employees. The past ten years the company was led by a group of entrepreneurs; prior to that SolidPack was part of Smurfit Kappa, one of the largest global players in the cardboard industry.
The move follows six years after another deal the firm pursued in the Netherlands fell through. In 2011 the Belgians were close to picking up paper manufacturer Parenco, yet the buyers backed out last minute, reportedly in line with the firm’s wider strategic reorientation process it was undergoing.
Integration into Smart Packaging Solutions unit
As part of the deal, VPK will integrate SolidPack into its Smart Packaging Solutions arm – the firm’s unit responsible for its solid board product line. Solid board is high quality cardboard with a very compact and flat structure, with a good resistance to humidity and excellent printability. The compact nature makes the product a popular solution for many exporters in the food & beverage sector – among others Irish lamb, Dutch cucumbers and Belgian chicken are commonly packed in solid cardboard.
According to Johan De Neef, head of Smart Packaging Solutions, the two firms will benefit from two-way synergies. “We complement each other very well. Our customers are predominantly located close to home, Solidpack has a strong portfolio in overseas exports. This complementarity also applies to the sectors to which we deliver. We will bundle our expertise and experience to be able to offer our customers even better service.”
He adds that he expects to accelerate SolidPack’s growth path as the company, which will continue to operate as a standalone business, will be able to leverage the knowhow and footprint of its larger Belgian parent. Smart Packaging Solutions is housed at VPK's facilities in Oudegem. In 2008, the division expanded to a second location in Meer, near the Dutch border.
The deal between VPK Packaging Group and SolidPack was advised on by M&A advisors from three external firms. Fortaleza Capital, a boutique corporate finance advisory firm based in The Hague specialised in the packaging & paper/board sector, acted as financial advisor to the shareholders of SolidPack. Legal consultancy to the sellers’ owners was provided by Nysingh, a law firm with offices in Amsterdam, Arnhem and Zwolle. Buy-side advisory was delivered by Heussen Law (legal), while transaction support was picked up by an in-house team of M&A experts from VPK.