Interview: Convenience and Security


Martin Dallas, Managing Director, Specialist Technologies at Essentra Packaging, has worked for three companies and has always had strong reasons for moving on. He talks to Jane Ellis about chocolate, tear tapes and packaging trends in the healthcare sector

What most consumers want in a pack is that it is convenient to use, easy to open and provides security for the contents. In this respect, food and pharmaceutical products are not so very different. And it was this fact that enabled Martin Dallas to make the move from a career in the food industry – where he had built up a broad experience in manufacturing, technical service, brands marketing and sales – to the Specialist Technologies division of Essentra, where he is now.

He is responsible for creating a ‘global transformational strategy’ for Essentra’s Specialist Technology Business and is bringing his knowledge of food and pharmaceutical packaging to the role, as well as his marketing and management experience.

In February this year, as part of a refocusing strategy, Essentra created its Specialist Technology Business, headquartered in Milton Keynes, UK. This business consists of three Essentra divisions: Packaging & Securing Solutions (a combination of the former Payne business, Contego and Dakota Packaging); Porous Technologies (fluid handling components); and Filter Products. It is this business that Dallas is now heading up.

Dallas sees the company’s role as developing and supplying the right packaging solutions to make the lives of consumers better. ‘We try to understand what the consumer goes through and to find solutions,’ he says.

The ageing profile of consumers in the healthcare sector means that many have failing eyesight (40% wear spectacles, but not when out shopping, research has revealed). In addition, dexterity and strength drop by 1.2% each year as we age, making it harder and harder to undo bottle caps and clamshell packaging. This provides opportunities for Essentra to develop more innovative child safe/adult friendly packs, says Dallas.

The Falsified Medicines Directive is more substantial and onerous on level and scale than anything in food and the implications of getting it wrong are much greater

Both the food and pharma industries are subject to stringent regulations, but Dallas believes the Falsified Medicines Directive is ‘more substantial and onerous on level and scale than anything in food and the implications of getting it wrong are much greater’.

As regulation gets more demanding, packs used for pharmaceuticals have to carry more information, which means labels must be able to carry that extra information while being compact enough to fit on a medicine bottle. There is also a requirement for Braille, security systems and bar codes to be included.

Essentra recently ran a webinar on the Falsified Medicines Directive, which is due to come into force in 2016, to find out how prepared the industry is for the new legislation. ‘Only 50% said they were engaged with meeting the serialisation requirements of the legislation, which means that 50% were not; 58% said they had done something to meet the tamper evidence requirements of the FMD, which means that 42% hadn’t.’ Polling attendees at the webinar also highlighted that the preferred products employed on packaging to achieve tamper evidence included closure labels, glued cartons and perforations and these were the leading solutions being considered or implemented.

The requirements of the FMD have also raised awareness about the physical security of a pack

The requirements of the FMD have also raised awareness about the physical security of a pack and Essentra provides many ways to offer protection, including the use of special inks, holograms and integrated carriers. The fact that the pharmaceutical industry is busy exploring many such new technologies makes the role at the top of Essentra’s Specialist Technology Business an exciting one for Dallas.

He expects Essentra’s Specialist Technologies Business to see growth in its core EU markets through the addition of Contego, which has brought a complementary product portfolio to the company’s packaging solutions for the pharmaceutical and healthcare markets. The acquisition also provides opportunity for further development in porous technologies and in speciality tapes through an ‘expanded and more focused category-based commercial approach’, for which Dallas is responsible.

He claims the company can put together different components in a more creative combination than its competitors and has five R&D centres worldwide to leverage a point of differentiation. An example is the company’s Plurium product, which takes a large leaflet and turns it into a booklet, making more effective use of space and offering separate sections for different audiences and languages.

In the healthcare sector, a growing area for providing security is over-wrapping bottles in film or putting a shrink sleeve around a collar, or placing a label over a carton seal to provide tamper evidence. Such features are cheap and easy to apply, but hard to remove and they cannot be re-sealed once tampered with.

Dallas has only been in his present role a short time, but he is determined to do a good job. Having written his five-year plan, which targets sales growth, profit and improving the FTSE standing of Essentra plc, he now has the opportunity to make it happen.

He has come a long way since graduating with a BSc in Organic Chemistry from Birmingham University, and his journey on the commercial side of business was set early on, when of the three positions he applied for – Cadbury, Campden BRI (the food and drink research organisation) and the National Coal Board – he chose Cadbury Schweppes’ graduate training scheme. It gave him the opportunity to have a varied career within the confectionery company that spanned 26 years. Initially, he was involved in R&D, followed by assignments that saw him working his way through a number of departments and disciplines.

Dallas left Cadbury when his role in international market development would have meant a move to Indonesia. His young daughter was in school at the time and his family did not want to relocate, so in 2006 he left the company to join Amcor as Commercial Director. It was a big move after more than two decades, but he also felt it was time to do something different before he became too ‘institutionalised’ at Cadbury. Amcor supplies rigid and flexible packaging products to the food, beverage, healthcare, home and personal care and tobacco packaging industries.

It was a big step from fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) to packaging, but I turned it to my advantage

‘It was a big step from fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) to packaging, but I turned it to my advantage,’ Dallas explains. ‘Cadbury’s dealt with the big retailers and I had many roles in the company: I knew about brands and had a commercial sense.’

He spent seven years in sales and marketing roles at Amcor focusing on the transformation of the Fresh Food market categories. In the process, he worked closely with a number of retailers and major brand owners to deliver innovative packaging solutions, while also trying to ‘leave the world a little bit better by developing more sustainable, creative and cost-effective packaging’.

He left Amcor in 2012 to join Payne as Managing Director of its packaging solutions division in Nottingham. ‘Payne’s goal of developing packaging that is both easy and intuitive to use, and which makes consumers lives better was too good an opportunity to miss,’ he says.

PP Payne developed Rippatape, the first tear tape based on cotton fibres that was used for easy opening of boxes and sacks in the 1950s. In 2010, an increasing demand for anti-counterfeiting solutions led Payne to acquire Cardiff-based BP Labels, a specialist in self-adhesive labels and technologies for the pharmaceutical, healthcare, food and cosmetics markets. The adaptability of adhesive security labelling made it suitable for the varying demands of the pharmaceutical industry.

Three years later Payne expanded its presence in the healthcare sector when Filtrona purchased Contego Healthcare, which was incorporated into its Coated & Security Products Division. Formerly Nampak Healthcare, Contego’s product range includes folding cartons, leaflets, self-adhesive labels and printed foils used in blister packs.

Filtrona formally rebranded as Essentra plc in June 2013 and as part of this, Payne became Essentra Packaging. The company’s Coated & Security Products Division was renamed Essentra Packaging & Securing Solutions.

Today Essentra is a multi-site, multi-product business providing print, packaging and support services to its customers, from operational sites located across Europe

Today Essentra is a multi-site, multi-product business providing print, packaging and support services to its customers, from operational sites located across Europe. It has since increased its presence in the pharma sector further when, last November, it acquired Dakota Packaging, based in Dublin, Ireland.

Essentra Packaging & Securing Systems is now headquartered in Giltbrook, Nottingham and has additional manufacturing facilities in Banbury, Bradford, Newmarket, Fareham and Newport in the UK, as well as Sarreguemines in north-eastern France, Bitterfeld-Wolfen in Germany, Podenzano and Cervia in Italy, Dublin in Ireland, Richmond, Virginia, in the US, São Paulo in Brazil, Bangalore in India, and Surabaya in Indonesia, along with offices in Singapore and China.

The company now manufactures tear tapes, labels, closures and seals that offer easy opening and resealability. The products can also carry branding and messages in the form of printed images, text or data. Additionally, they can include security solutions, such as tamper evidence or overt and covert authentication technologies such as holography, colour shift inks and taggants. The healthcare packaging side of the business manufactures and prints cartons, labels, leaflets and blister pack foils.

‘I’ve only worked for three companies and I’ve always had very strong reasons for moving on. I went from Cadbury’s to Amcor because moving to Indonesia wasn’t what I wanted to do. And I went from Amcor to Essentra because it was a great career opportunity.

‘I’m really enjoying my new role and it’s going well and I’m keen to see my plans come to fruition.’

Curriculum Vitae
2014 to presentManaging Director, Specialist Technologies, Essentra Packaging
2013 to 2014Divisional Commercial Director, Essentra
2012 to 2013Managing Director, Payne
2006 to 2012Sales & Marketing Director, Amcor Flexibles
1979 to 2005Sales & Marketing roles, Cadbury Schweppes
1977 to 1979BSc Chemistry, University of Birmingham