The stamp of luxury
The luxury packaging market is growing increasingly complex and sophisticated. A prize-winning French producer of packaging for champagne and cognac stays ahead of the curve by working closely with clients, investing in R&D and using the best materials to package the finest products the luxury sector has to offer.
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Le Sanglier is one of a handful of small, independent printers in France dedicated to developing packaging solutions for the luxury sector and top-flight covers for the publishing industry.
Le Sanglier is based in the Ardennes department of northern France and is now run by the second generation of the Aertgeets family, Philippe and his brother Jean-Francois. With clients like Bollinger, Camus, Chanel and Armani, as well as the Harry Potter series of best-selling novels, Le Sanglier had sales of 9 million euros in 2012. The firm attributes its success to an ongoing strategy of innovation and hard work on the part of its 46 staff members.
“My parents started the company back in 1969,” says ceo Philippe Aertgeets. “Their business was mostly in high-end publishing. In the early ’90s we started producing packaging for Kodak and built up the business until we had 100 percent of the French market and were producing 40 million boxes a year. But the rise of digital technology led us to widen our portfolio into luxury packaging, starting with Lanson and Laurent-Perrier champagnes, which were soon followed by a raft of other luxury brands.”
Packaging for the liquor trade now accounts for 70 percent of Le Sanglier’s sales, with the remainder from publishing.
“We pride ourselves on our innovation,” Aertgeets says. “We were the first printer in France to do cold foil in offset, and in 2008 we invested in the first machine of this type in France. This allows us to offer some specific products and printing techniques that are different from printing on polyester film, or hot foil stamping. It’s a third string to our bow in terms of high-quality printing.
“Producers of luxury brands want printers to be fast, to offer a wide range of skills and a high level of technical expertise,” he says. “If they ask for a printing effect, they want to get it. And Le Sanglier can offer all of that because we are small and therefore flexible and fast.”
Le Sanglier worked on a new package for Taittinger, using laser-treated polyester for a 3d bubble effect, which won a Packaging Oscar at the Luxe Pack trade show in Monaco in 2012. “Taittinger were delighted with it because it really evoked a feel of bubbly champagne,” Aertgeets says. “We’d never done anything like this before, but we took the client’s request and got it right the first time, in just three weeks, which meant considerable sales for the client. That sums up how we do business.”
Packaging for luxury products is becoming increasingly complex and sophisticated. “We’ve seen that trend over the past three or four years,” says Aertgeets. “Champagne houses want fresh designs every four years on average for their standard packaging, as well as limited-edition sleeves and boxes using new techniques to boost sales in between. We’ve just produced a limited-edition Formula One gift pack for Mumm, using cold foil stamping techniques that we are very proud of.”
“Customers come to us with an idea, and it’s our job to find the technical solutions to turn that idea into a reality at the right price,” Aertgeets says.
Le Sanglier always works closely with clients to find the techniques that will make the project a success. “We always try to be ahead of the curve, and we make significant investments in r&d to make sure we keep it that way,” he adds.
With a move towards finding greener solutions and cutting back on processes that could harm the environment, customers are finding that cold and hot stamping or foiling solutions that don’t require a polyester layer, and particularly cold stamping that needs no glue, are the way forward. “Cold stamping also opens up new design opportunities for packaging like Taittinger’s bubbles,” Aertgeets says. “The technology is improving, and we can do virtually anything with cold foiling now.”
“The paper we use is also critical, and for luxury packaging you need the very best quality board that is perfectly white, resistant to tearing, folding and humidity, and which offers a dimensional stability when printed,” he says. “That’s why we use Invercote and Incada. We need to use the best materials so that we can create the best packaging that is selected to wrap the best products the luxury sector has to offer – and that’s what we do.”
TEXT: ANNA MCQUEEN PHOTO: PETTER OFTEDAL
Developing packaging solutions for the liquor business accounts for the main part of Le Sanglier's sales. The owners, Philippe and Jean-Francois Aertgeets, pride themselves on being able to offer a high level of technical expertise.
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