Panther Group 2021: Challenges mastered with courage, confidence and commitment

The year 2021 was one in which unusual and unknown factors overlap at the same time. The entire society, economy and so the Panther Group had to face great challenges in a completely changed market situation, as well. These were shaped by a globally changed raw material market, cost explosions and changed consumer behavior. As a systemically important company in the ongoing pandemic, it was possible to prove in the previous year that the Panther-Plants had fulfilled their important tasks in supplying customers with packaging. In the year now drawing to a close, they provided further evidence of their performance and productivity. Dedicated commitment and the use of all capacities were the prerequisites for this.

Looking back on the year 2021, this means for the Panther Group to meet an enormous increase in order volumes from various customers, above all from the food industry and online retail. This is one of the reasons for the positive growth development of the Panther Group. At the same time, a scarcity of raw materials that had not been seen for years and the extremely high costs for paper and, for example, energy, had to be reconciled.

The industry association VDW (Association of the Corrugated Board Industry) published in December:
"In terms of corrugated board sales on working days, the VDW members achieved an increase of 7.6 percent in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the first quarter of 2020. In the second quarter of 2021, a growth of 10 percent was recorded compared to the corresponding period of the previous year", according to the VDW, who notes on the development of costs: “The positive trend in sales is overshadowed by bad news: A cost explosion on the raw materials side that has never been seen before is putting an entire industry in distress. The price for recycled paper-based corrugated board base paper, which is particularly important for our industry, rose by 62.3 percent from September 2020 to October 2021”. (Source: VDW, press release from December 10th, 2021)

In this environment, the Panther Group was able to master the challenges through far-sighted planning and investments in state-of-the-art, high-performance new machines and systems. New machines for Panther Pharma Service increase the degree of automation and create more flexibility and quicker reactions. The new flatbed die cutter at Südwestkarton as well as the rotary die cutter at the RRK Wellpappenfabrik in Bottrop contribute to increased capacities.

Against this background, Panther draws a positive conclusion for the year 2021: Despite all the changes of external factors, there is reason for optimism and continued high motivation of all employees. The family company's commitment to investing and further strengthening the plants at various locations with new machines has endured. The annual balance sheet of the Panther Group clearly shows one of the essential criteria for success: around 1,300 committed Panthers who stick together even in difficult times.

Enthusiasm for the recycled material corrugated board - a tradition
The production of corrugated board and its processing into highly refined packaging and PoS presentations is the core business of the Panther Group. The recognized advantages - secure protection of the products, individual presentation of brands, strong communication skills and ecological advantages thanks to the well-organized and functioning recycling - ensure a successful future for corrugated board, which Panther is consistently helping to shape. For example, under “Panther pro nature”, a number of sustainable packaging and display solutions have been implemented that use both material-saving paper (Panther Smart Print for the flexo preprint process) and substitute solutions for plastic-based packaging from the recycled material corrugated board.

Innovation management has a high priority in the Panther Group. Among other things, recycled corrugated board base papers with a low grammage are being developed in order to ensure maximum performance of corrugated board packaging and displays with minimal use of material and thus keep the CO₂ footprint as low as possible. The subject of Panther Smart Print will play an even more important role in the future.

The year ending was also marked by important milestones. For six plants, anniversaries of foundings were celebrated in 2021 (Wepoba Wellpappenfabrik 90 years, Panther Display 85 years, Südwestkarton 60 years, RRK Wellpappenfabrik 45 years, PaKa Packaging-Service 20 years and Panther Print 10 years). This shows the long tradition of the family-run Group, which will also celebrate its 120th anniversary in 2022. The Group has always had a passion for highly refined packaging and displays made of corrugated board. This year, the experts for high-end flexo preprint from Panther Print provided an outstanding example. The team set an impressive world record and drove the printing machine with its working width of 2.80 m to the mark of approx. 50,000 high-quality printed square meters of paper per hour. A total of 1,174,000 m² was produced on the flexo preprint machine in 24 hours in Wustermark.

But such an achievement is not only reflected in records. The year 2021 was mainly characterized by the recognized reliability, delivery reliability and expertise of all Panthers. The will to innovate, the highest quality standards and many years of experience have made further significant contributions to supply chains for high-quality packaging and displays that are available in good time for the point of sale.

Recognition for these Panther characteristics is expressed, among other things, by two important awards: In 2021, Panther Display again received the German Packaging Award in the product presentation category and a WorldStar from the World Packaging Organization in the Point of Sale category (award ceremony on May 4th 2022) for a very successful secondary placement element.

The outlook for 2022 is realistic: Experts agree that the tense situation on the raw material markets will persist and that extremely high demand will continue to meet the unclear availability of a wide variety of materials. The additional challenges caused by the changing pandemic situation will continue well into the new year. Nevertheless, there are reasons to be confident: The Panther Group has strategically overcome the overall situation and, thanks to a steep learning curve in dealing with the new conditions, it has good prerequisites for successfully shaping the year 2022, the anniversary year.

The Panther Group wishes all customers, suppliers and employees a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.