Originally a glass bottle trader, French primary packaging company Coverpla has developed into a one-stop shop for indie fragrance brands with a "mix and match" approach. Formes de Luxe visited Coverpla's French production facility and spoke to CEO Bruno Diepois about the recent tooling investments and his ambitions for the company.
"Let’s set the record straight: we’re not just traders! Coverpla is an industrial player with in-house manufacturing capacities—our workshops and our 100% European sourcing are what sets us apart from the competition," Coverpla CEO Bruno Diepois affirmed to Formes de Luxe during a visit to the French packaging company’s headquarters early September. Located in the hills above Nice, Coverpla, whose client roster is mainly made up of indie fragrance brands, operates a 1,200m2 production facility where it injection molds, assembles, and decorates its bottles and caps. This manufacturing activity accounts for about 30% of its annual sales, and stock products make up the remainder.
Coverpla's headquarters and production facility on the outskirts of Nice ©Coverpla
Coverpla’s regional approach is also a point of difference with the competition, notes Diepois, with all components produced in Europe: glass bottles are sourced in Italy and Spain (Bormioli Luigi, Pochet du Courval, Verescence and Heinz Glas are historic partners and Spanish supplier Estal recently joined the portfolio). Coverpla designs the majority of its bottles in-house: of 160 bottle collections, 100 are conceived internally. Its 130-strong offer of caps follows the same strategy with around 100 created by Coverpla. "Our priority is to provide a mix-and-match service, meaning that all our caps fit onto our bottles. Our MOQ of about 1,500 means that we can work with small players, and today that’s where the growth is: the market in Europe in particularly is booming thanks to emerging DNVBs [digital native vertical brands]," he adds.
Coverpla invests in injection molding capacity
Coverpla is positioning itself to meet this growth, with significant investments. In 2023 the company embarked on an industrial overhaul at its Nice site, revamping its production flow. Coverpla’s injection molding capacity dedicated to the production of caps now includes eight machines: three machines were purchased in 2023, representing an investment of around €100,000 each. One of these is electric; as it is devoid of a hydraulic press, the tool is significantly more energy efficient, which is in line with the supplier’s strategy to lower its environmental footprint.
Surlyn is the material of choice for around 85% of Coverpla’s caps, explained Josselin Declementi, Head of Coverpla’s production site, due to its high transparency and shine and ability to be formed into complex shapes. He added that around 20% of the Surlyn injection sprues are reinjected into the production process to create colored components, with some components created from 100% reground material. In line with its sustainability strategy, Coverpla is also testing the injection of bio-based materials, including Sulapac’s Luxe Flex (an 87% bio-based grade), and Nature Plast’s glucose-based PHI, said to be 100% biodegradable. However, in addition to the price premium that these alternative materials represent, "the issue is also the constraints when it comes to forming," noted Declementi.
On the decoration front, in addition to its in-house ink lab, Coverpla operates 11 semi-automatic silkscreen machines, one automatic for large series, one pad printing machine, hot stamping as well as two furnaces and a lehr dedicated to the firing of ceramic inks—which the company is slowly phasing out due to its energy-intensive nature—and precious metals.
Coverpla's decoration capacity includes hot stamping, screenprinting and pad printing ©Coverpla
The assembly unit is equipped with three automatic machines that assemble the actuator, pump motor and tube (PEHD) for crimped bottles. For screw bottles, Coverpla works with Aptar’s Precious pump. This area of the factory also produces aluminum cap covers.
A regional approach to production & sourcing
From a regional perspective, Coverpla purchases the entirety of its components in Europe: zamak in Italy, Portugal and France; wood in Spain and glass in France, Italy and Poland. This reflects the geographical split of its business: Europe accounts for 75% of sales, with no one export market making up more than 10% of business. France (Coverpla's domestic market) and Italy are the supplier’s main markets, and these have seen a considerable boom over the last two years says Diepois. France now accounts for 35% of sales, with a portfolio of around 250 clients largely focused on fragrance and Italy, where Coverpla is setting up a subsidiary in 2024, makes up around 8% of sales.
The primary packaging specialist has a portfolio of 160 bottle collections and a 130-strong offer of caps ©Formes de Luxe
In the US, however, Coverpla Inc works with both fragrance and cosmetics brands, with the aim to move beyond a classic stock to offer “something much more bespoke,” according to Diepois. Coverpla Inc, which reported a turnover of €2m in 2022. “Our US business is exclusively trading and stocking for the present time, but a similar model to how we operate in France could be on the cards in the next two to three years. It won’t be this year as the US market is currently quite sluggish."
From a sustainability perspective, Coverpla is looking to attain carbon neutrality by 2025, which will include compensation measures. In addition to its experiments with more sustainable materials for its caps, the purchase of lower-energy consuming machines and the reuse of scraps in the production process, the company is studying the feasibility of installing solar panels at its Nice site that could supply between 15-20% of its energy consumption in the medium term.
In 2022, Coverpla reported a turnover of €22m, with €25m forecast for 2023 (not including the US business). At the upcoming LUXE PACK Monaco show, Coverpla will showcase its new range of Estal bottles alongside a collection of refillable flacons.