BillerudKorsnäs is active in more than one hundred countries offering sustainable materials and new solutions for the packaging industry. The customers are packaging manufacturers, brand owners and large retail and supermarket chains. BillerudKorsnäs’ ambition is to grow faster than the market for packaging paper and board, and will achieve this by shifting their position geographically and in the value chain. This will be done by developing new products, making the production more efficient and offering sustainable and innovative alternatives.
MARKET ANALYSIS AS A BASIS FOR SETTING STRATEGY IN THE REGION
As one step in achieving their goals, BillerudKorsnäs wanted to explore the opportunities of growing their business in sub-Saharan Africa. The company knew that the products were relevant for the African market and they already had sales agents in South Africa and Kenya. In order to expand further, there was a need to adapt the products to the market, and at that time BillerudKorsnäs had only few companies they collaborated with who could make the needed product conversion.
In order to fully understand the market potential for the products within packaging paper such as bags and sacks for sugar, flour, and cement BillerudKorsnäs turned to Business Sweden in Kenya. Business Sweden conducted a value chain and market analysis where detailed information about the value chain and its key stakeholders; producers, brands, potential customers and partners for Ethiopia, Nigeria and Tanzania was gathered in the field.
Reliable information is hard to come about, and to get this, field analysis and interviews are the primary methods used. Robin Pettersson, Trade Commissioner at Business Sweden in Kenya, was part of the team supporting BillerudKorsnäs, and he explains that the Business Sweden team travelled to each of the three countries to gather information.
- We basically started with a blank page, and in order to deliver the project our team had to visit manufacturers, end-users, small stores, and perform interviews with key people in each industry. It is inspiring to work with a project where you can deliver insights that are hard to come by and make a clear impact for the client, says Robin Pettersson.
The analysis conveyed the insights of one market being challenging, one market with severe competition and one market with promising potential, which BillerudKorsnäs decided to explore further.
Marcus Lager, Business Segment Director for Bag Solutions at BillerudKorsnäs, is happy with the result. Working with Business Sweden has given us a clear understanding of the market, which has helped us in setting a strategy for the region, he says.
CONTINUED COOPERATION AFTER THE PROJECT
The collaboration with Business Sweden Kenya did not stop after this project. In order to realise the full business potential in the region, BillerudKorsnäs decided to increase their presence in East Africa and hire a sales person. In order to find the ideal candidate, Business Sweden managed the recruitment process and everything from creating a profile adapted to local conditions to interviewing and selecting the most qualified candidates.
BillerudKorsnäs has a professional and rational approach to their international expansion. We have a long-term perspective where we support BillerudKorsnäs in their expansion. Working with a client who has high ambitions and is interested in exploring the potential in the region is very stimulating and rewarding, says Robin Pettersson.
As a result of good collaboration, Business Sweden has also supported BillerudKorsnäs on other international and emerging markets.