10 September 2019

FINAT marks 60 years and 600 members

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Marking 60 years since it was founded and reaching 600 members, our association partner FINAT share their thoughts on how the industry has changed and what visitors can expect to see at the FINAT stand. Managing director, Jules Lejeune (pictured), explains…

Happy 60th birthday FINAT! Tell us about this special milestone.
Many thanks! FINAT was founded back in 1958 in Paris as a small group of European licensees of a new labelling technology flown across the Atlantic ocean called ‘pressure sensitive’. From the terminology chosen by our French founders, ‘auto-adhésive’, this technology spread across Europe under the header ‘self-adhesive labelling’. Today, our association counts over 600 member companies, whether label converters or suppliers, whether independent family-owned companies or consolidated groups of label companies. 600 members in 60 years is a milestone in itself, but our biggest milestone has been to become the go-to association in Europe for our line of business. We find ourselves in the good company of a lovely 40-year old sister here in Brussels!

How has the industry changed in that time and how has FINAT responded to that?
One of our former Board members once said ‘FINAT is a mirror of the European label industry’ and in a way that is true. After all, our association’s activities are a reflection of our members needs and expectations. At the beginning of our lifecycle in the late 1950s, the young emerging, letterpress driven technology was in need of a peer network of pioneers driven by the ambition to grow this technology, exchange and translate technical information and set common standards and best practices for the then still divided European market. By the time of the late 1970s, flexo, and later UV flexo was emerging, and our association’s technology driven focus was given new impetus, especially since there were hardly any local associations at the time.

From the 1980s onwards, our industry matured into an established sector with a strong culture of collaborative partnership and drive to innovate. The networks developed under the FINAT umbrella have helped to establish and nurture this culture of entrepreneurship and innovation. Nowadays, the industry has acquired a reputation as the high-end of the labels and packaging spectrum. With the advent of digital printing, our industry is mastering the whole spectrum of printing technologies, both individually and in combination), a wide variety of substrates and a broad range of applications (labels as well as packaging solutions) in the short to medium orders range.

Since the turn of the millennium, representing a mature industry, the focus of FINAT has shifted from merely being a technical association, to also supporting the industry in communicating its profile, and helping our owners and managers to find the network and inspiration to continuously improve and innovate their businesses in an increasingly international environment. In a way, the proverbial mirror that was reflecting back what was happening outside, has been reversed to reflect the future onto today’s reality.

What are you showcasing at Labelexpo Europe 2019?
FINAT has been the presenting Labelexpo Europe association partner since 1991. Our stand at the show (Hall 11 A31&33) is a meeting point for members and prospective members to learn about our programs and achievements from our valued volunteers and professionals who will be taking stand duty. We will be happy to welcome them in the morning for a refreshing, energy boosting breakfast smoothie. Throughout the day, on our stand there will be 5-10 minute ‘Flash Talks’ to present various programs in the context of our ‘6-Star Strategy’.

Special features will be the launch of the 10th edition of our FINAT Technical Handbook containing our Test Methods; an update on our role as coordinator of the industry’s UV Foodsafe initiative, that will culminate in tangible results next March during our Technical Seminar in Barcelona; the relaunch of our Young Professionals Network designed to integrate the incoming generation of industry leaders to shape the future of our industry; our ongoing efforts to promote sustainable practice and liner recycling both among members and our industry’s client base; and of course our special 60th anniversary project #LABELicious. This is a competition for students and young professionals that we launched on the occasion of our 60th anniversary, of which the winners will be presented in the Press Office Theatre on Wednesday afternoon of the show at 2pm (see also www.labelicious.eu).

How do you think the show has changed since you’ve been involved, and what have been the highlights? What role has it played in the label and package printing industry?
When I first became involved in FINAT in the late 1990s, Labelexpo Europe was still a relatively small show of 4-5 halls and a manageable crowd of fifteen to twenty thousand visitors. Apart from its sister show in Chicago, it had spin-offs such as Labelexpo Asia in Singapore and smaller ‘label summits’ in Eastern Europe to encourage the label industry development in the ‘liberated’ eastern part of Europe (I remember a summit in Prague).

Since then, Labelexpo has become a global brand, especially in Asia. The last 15 years, Labelexpo shows have been set up in China, India and most recently in Bangkok. Label Summits have appeared across emerging regions in Asia, Latin America and Africa to raise the awareness about this technology world-wide. Instrumental to the show’s founding, Mike Fairley (and Clive Smith of course), has documented and transferred his immense knowledge to help the development of this knowledge. Without this role as ‘embedded’ partner, Labelexpo Europe would not have developed to the world’s leading global trade show at is today.

Having been strongly embedded in the international label industry, FINAT and the Tarsus brands ‘Labels & Labeling’, ‘Labelexpo’, and most recently the Label Academy have been natural partners in promoting the development of this industry during the past decades. Our association has benefited from the knowledge and resources that Tarsus has provided, as it has enabled FINAT to invest in programs that are relevant to the healthy future of this industry. Vice versa, our association has provided the network, meeting platform and sounding board to continuously improve and align the Tarsus services. It has been a win-win relationship all along.

What key trends are likely to have an impact on the region in 2019, and how do you think the industry will change in the next few years?
Statistical analysis has demonstrated that the evolution of the European self-adhesive roll label market is a significant indicator of the general economic cycle. The results of our quarterly European labelstock statistics and our latest FINAT RADAR report indicate a clear slowdown in material consumption, label converter sales as well as printing equipment investment activity. This reversal after 5 years of buoyant growth, especially in Poland, has been emerging already since mid-last year. Recent developments, such as the prospect of a ‘No Deal’ Brexit, a US-China trade war and political uncertainty in countries like Italy all have an adverse effect on business confidence.

The fact that we are now in an interest rate structure where longer term interest rates are as low or even lower than the short term interest may be good for acquiring cheap (private equity) capital, but it remains to be seen how this will play out in the future, especially when you factor in political developments.  

What message do you have for visitors to the 40th anniversary edition of Labelexpo Europe 2019?
Come and see for yourself and experience the state of the art of one of the most dynamic package printing industries. Be overwhelmed by this environment and its rich history, and give your outlook on the prospects for the years to come a boost!


The FINAT press conference takes place between 14:00-14:30 on Wednesday 25 September.