How Amcor Leads The Packaging Revolution

How Amcor Leads The Packaging Revolution

Amcor was established over 160 years ago and has become a world-renowned packaging solutions company. Let’s take a look at its phenomenal growth…

Amcor is a global leader in the packaging industry and offers innovative packaging solutions for food, medical, and personal care products.

Established in 1860, Amcor has been part of people's lives for over one and a half-century now. The company is committed to empowering brands to stand out, all the while doing right by the planet.

Headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, Amcor is not only a leader in the Australian packaging industry but has become a global force with its diverse range of sustainable packaging solutions.

Exemplary Performance of Amcor In 2021

Amcor went from being a successful Australian papermaking company to globally renowned diverse and innovative packaging solutions company. 

It built up its prestigious legacy over more than a century and now stands as a trusted brand that is part of people’s everyday lives.

Let’s take a look at Amcor’s illustrious history and how it became the successful brand that it is today.

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Amcor: A Budding Paper Business In The 19th Century

Amcor was originally known as Australian Paper Manufacturers (APM) - a papermaking business established during the 1860s.

The 1860s had ushered in an era of rapid industrial growth in Australia's New South Wales and Victoria. 

The discovery of goldfields in Western Australia triggered 'gold rushes,' which initiated rising prosperity and induced a massive increase in the region's population. The influx of people also increased the available labor force.

These developments, coupled with the government's protection policy for manufacturers in Victoria, engendered the ideal context for an increase in factories operating in the region.

The papermaking industry also benefited from the wave of industrialization.

Ramsden Going Big In The Corporate World

Samuel Ramsden was a stonemason from Yorkshire who, in 1844, had journeyed to Melbourne with his wife in search of a business opportunity.

Ramsden was described as having a straightforward and plain-speaking manner. He was characterized by his resolve to take advantage of any opportunity skillfully. The colony of Victoria was the perfect destination for him as it provided him with new prospects.

True to his creed, Ramsden was able to make the most of the opportunities presented to him. Through a series of business pursuits, Ramsden was able to establish himself as one of Australia’s most notable businessmen.

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Initially, Ramsden delved into the contracting and building business, which was quite successful and allowed him to attain a station of wealth and influence.

After the dissolution of the contracting firm, Ramsden ventured into various pursuits, such as setting up a flour mill in Leicester Street Carlton in 1855.

In 1867, Ramsden acquired papermaking machinery from Thomas Kenny and helped establish the first paper mill in Victoria. The mill was built on the southern bank of the Yarra (now known as the Southbank) on land granted by the government.

The mill became operational in 1868 and is considered the starting point for Australian Paper Mills (APM). In the beginning, the mill employed approximately 70 people - 40 of whom were women.

The Becoming of Australian Paper Mills Company

Although Ramsden had set up the original business in 1868, the firm had to undergo a series of mergers before the Australian Paper Manufacturers was formed. 

During the mid-1860s, the papermaking industry was on an upward trend, and numerous mills had popped up in the region.

In 1871, William Fieldhouse erected Melbourne Number Two Paper Machine adjacent to Ramsden’s paper mill - the operation was purchased by Ramsden the following year.

After Ramsden died in 1877, the two adjoining mills were passed down to his son George Ramsden who ran the operations until 1882. The mills were sold to William Brookes and Archibald Currie, who in 1895 also acquired the Barwon Paper Mills.

Barwon Paper Mills were Victoria’s third paper mill that had commenced production in 1878 at Fyansford, Geelong. Brookes and Currie then joined these operations with the Broadford Mill - Victoria’s fourth paper mill that had become functional in 1891.

Thus, the three operations in Melbourne, Broadford, and Geelong combined to form the Australian Paper Mills Company.

Formation of Australian Paper Manufacturers (APM) - Predecessor of Amcor

The Australian Paper Mills Company enjoyed a period of expansion in the first two decades of its establishment. 

The expansion was driven by the considerable increase in Australia’s overseas trade at the start of the 1900s.

In 1920, the Australian Paper Mills Company joined Sydney Paper Mills to form a new firm called the Australian Paper and Pulp Company

The Australian Paper and Pulp Company subsequently merged with the Cumberland Paper Board Mills in 1926, effectively resulting in the creation of Australian Paper Manufacturers (APM).

APM was Amcor’s predecessor company, and even then, its products had impacted the daily lives of many Australians.

Key Takeaway 1: Success Lies In Seizing Opportunities

Amcor's origin story is founded upon the idea that capitalizing on an opportunity as it presents itself is essential for success. Ramsden came to Victoria seeking business prospects, and he was aware of the importance of recognizing an opportunity when it presented itself.

Ramsden had recognized the advantage of setting up a paper mill in Victoria, which is why he was eager to undertake the affair of securing the machinery for erecting the mill. He did not hesitate and quickly bought the Melbourne Number Two Paper Machine when it opened up adjacent to his paper mill.

By doing so, Ramsden established the paper mills on a solid foundation so that even after his death, the mills played a critical role in the eventual creation of Amcor.

Amcor Weathering The War & Coming out Stronger Than Ever

Although APM’s business had been sailing smoothly up until now, the advent of the war introduced a new set of challenges for the company to overcome.

The following years saw the company navigate through a complex set of circumstances and emerge from them with a renewed resolve.

The Calm Before The Storm

APM saw some successes but was also faced with setbacks during the 1930s. Political unrest was also on the rise due to the threat of World War II.

1936 was a particularly pleasant year for the company as it signed an agreement with the Victorian Forest Commission to get access to a larger amount of wood pulp. This was soon followed by the Wood Pulp Agreement Act, which directly led to APM opening the Maryvale Pulp Mill, one of its first significant investments.

There were two stages to establishing this mill as it began producing kraft pulp from Eucalyptus trees for semi-commercial purposes in early 1938. 

The complete commercialization and production of pulp processing began later in 1938.

APM Finding The Silver Lining Even During Challenging Times

Just as APM was establishing itself, World War II began. 

Further piling on the pain, the most devastating bush fires in Victoria occurred during the same year, impacting the production cycle negatively.

While the company’s efficiency took a big hit as many of the valuable trees had been obliterated due to the fires. however, it led Amcor to discover a unique kind of wood that was somewhat resistant to fires ("fire-killing") and could still be used for pulping and replacement in value.

The political situation of Australia at the time was dire since imports were held back, the Federal Government determined prices of goods, Wartime profit taxes were added, and most importantly, any Industries functioning in Australia were to now provide resources and equipment for the military to aid in the war.

This led to a drastic change in APM’s operations where, instead of wood pulp commercialization, it shifted its focus on mostly manufacturing equipment for war and ammunition now.

At least 70% of total production consisted of the above until 1941. Of course, this came with its advantages as APM showed its prowess as a business innovator and a progressive company by creating moisture-resistant paper for soldiers fighting in human tropical regions and developing various propellants.

APM Moving Towards Self-Sufficiency

Such a sudden change in politics and the economy due to the war prompted Amcor to become increasingly self-sufficient due to decreasing resources.

This meant that it had to source raw materials on its own, which included deriving at least 80% of them from local sources after the war, compared to before the war when it imported raw materials.

Power and fuel were henceforth to be handled by the company, so moving into 1946, the company acquired Maddingley Brown Coal Proprietary Limited. Through this acquisition, they held up other companies by producing coal and fuel for them, up to at least 10,000 tons per week.

The 1940s saw a 25% dip in the labor force due to enlisting in the war. The status of being a protected industry by the Australian government was inconsequential to stop such a drastic decrease from happening. As such, women were pushed to join and work in the factories.

Even with lesser staff compared to before and other difficulties such as coal strikes and continuing bushfires, APM continued to focus on expanding its business horizons as much as it could in the prevailing conditions.

The strategies proved successful as their production values increased from 92,000 tons in 1938 to 131,000 tons in 1942.

As the Second World War dwindled, Sir Herbert Gepp, the company's Managing Director, created a Post-war Planning Committee to make a plan to be free from Government scrutiny as a Private Limited and discuss future strategies.

APM felt the need for decent tariff protection, which was evident in the face of an inevitable increase in the values of imports. Future strategies were discussed, including expanding products and services.

APM Expanding Its Horizons

After the war, APM realized that resounding changes had to be made to survive and thrive in the changing landscape. 

Amcor's public relations policies were changed from the ground up, focusing on industrial relations.

APM was one of the highest and most recognized producers of wrapping paper and boards in the country and soon became Australia's biggest Pulp and Paper producing company.

Investments into corrugators were made to facilitate items like corrugated packaging. APM became one of the very few companies that invested in this technology, along with J. Fielding and Co., who bought their first corrugator in 1914 in Sydney but were supplemented by APM selling them their 96-inch corrugator - making it a business expense.

The company was exclusively focused on increasing its range of products through Pulp and Paper following the 1960s. 

For this, APM partnered with the USA's Kimberly-Clark Corporation in 1963 and created the co-owned company Kimberly-Clark Australia Limited.

They produced tissues and similar products. In the 1970s, the company Brown and Dureau Limited became an essential part of the history of APM.

This was because APM would buy Brown and Dureau around 1978, which was preceded by Brown and Dureau acquiring companies like Lukey Mufflers and Angus Hill Holdings, which eventually formed the core of APM's factories.

1975 saw the post of Deputy Managing Director being handed over to Mr. Stan Wallis. He had led the company on a progressive leadership journey and made decisions in diversification that proved fruitful to the expansion of the business.

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Key Takeaway 2: Innovation Is Essential For Survival

A huge reason why APM was able to navigate the war years successfully was its ability to adapt itself according to the need of the hour.

When the war made the acquisition of raw materials difficult for the company, it developed innovative alternatives such as fire-resistant wood. The company’s innovation ensured that it could survive through the precarious circumstances created by the war.

If APM did not have a penchant for innovation and developing creative solutions, it would have taken a severe hit to its business and might not have climbed to its current status.

Amcor Continues Its Ascend In The Late Twentieth Century

From 1980 to 1990, APM's growth was characterized by a series of strategic acquisitions that propelled it to newer heights.

Beyond acquisitions, the decade also ushered in a new era for the company as it transitioned from APM to Amcor.

Branching Out Through Critical Acquisitions

APM continued to expand in the following decade and made significant acquisitions such as the Ingram Corporation Ltd., a paper merchant, and the Edwards Dunlop & Co. Ltd., a stationery manufacturer.

These acquisitions allowed the company to grow in the merchanting, stationery, and designer products divisions and spread their roots.

APM also secured 40% of James Hardie Containers within the same time frame. This company manufactured corrugated fiber boxes, used mainly for packaging food and drink.

Another major acquisition came along for APM in 1982, when they acquired Containers Packaging. This company was their fourth massive wholly-owned subsidiary, which was highly beneficial for APM.

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In the same year, APM joined hands with New Zealand Forest Products (NZFP), the country's leading forestry group, and produced a joint venture company called Anfor. 

Both NZFP and APM had 50% of the shares allocated to each and thus had equal cooperation.

Anfor was supposed to begin a corrugated box plant. It planned to build this plant in Hong Kong and make boxes with the help of NZFP's supplying liner board and APM's corrugating medium.

The main customers for these corrugated boxes hailed from Asia - specifically from the Chinese, South Korean, and Japanese markets.

From APM To Amcor

A few years later, in 1986, an era of rationalization began when APM purchased the balance of James Hardie Containers. 

APM also began acquiring several different plants, including:

  • Reed Corrugated Containers
  • Corrugated Paper
  • J. Fielding & Co.
  • J. Gadsden Paper Products
  • Tasman U.E.B.
  • Tasmanian Fibre Containers
  • United Packages
  • Fibreboard Containers
  • Fiber Containers
  • Cardboard Containers.

In the same year, they also changed the name of the company. From APM, they now took on the name of Amcor Ltd., as they believed it was more fitting and reflected the expanding roots of the company. The diversity of its holdings was also better represented by this new name.

Amcor had shed the company's traditional image of its pulp and papermaking activities and embraced a new identity.

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The bold brown logo alluded to paper and wood, while the 'O' represented a paper roll. The change signified a symbolic transition towards the Amcor of today.

A Wrench In The Works

As the decade came to a close, Stan Wellis wanted to do something remarkable.

Therefore, he took on an ambitious capital investment program in import-substituting plants. 

He also aimed to reopen the existing plants to supply export markets that were in the process of expanding.

With such elaborate plans in the works, one of them was bound not to work out. Its plan to merge with NZFP was one of them. The company announced the merger plans in April of 1987, which would have covered the pulp and paper production and marketing of these two companies. The merger almost essentially entailed a complete merger of operations between the two.

However, these plans were dashed within the same year as the New Zealand Commerce Commission informed Amcor that they had decided that they would not go ahead with the merger.

The reason behind this rejection was that the new emergent entity would have a monopoly over the manufacture and import of paperboard and kraft paper in New Zealand.

As a result of this rejection, Amcor sold 11% of its stake in NZFP to Rda Corporation, which was considered a defense against a takeover by their rival company, Fletcher Challenge, which was not impeded by the same obstacle that Amcor was.

In 1986-87, Amcor gained control over Kiwi Packaging of New Zealand. Consequently, it was running five corrugating plants and two sheet plants.

Expanding Beyond The Boundaries

Amcor’s next step was offshore investment opportunities.

In 1988, the company announced its shift towards overseas business and switched Don B. 

Macfarlane to a new post named general manager of international business development. This shift reflected a systematic approach Amcor was adopting to expand beyond Australia.

The next decade was marked by Amcor establishing two more plants in their packaging division. These plants were located at Smithfield, New South Wales, and Scoresby, Victoria. These plants bought 46% of Sydney’s Universal Containers in the fiscal year of 1988-89.

In the 1980s, Amcor wanted to expand and broaden its horizon to include packaging. Its main aim was to restructure the core pulp and paper business to include paper converting. By doing so, it wanted to extend the impact of the restructuring in Australia and overseas.

In June 1989, Amcor bought Twinpak, the largest plastic container in Canada. This company had over 13 plants all around the country

 Thus, Amcor increased its container package sales by 32% in the financial year 1989-90.

Amcor In Pursuit Of Growth

In 1989, a new chairman named Sir Brian Inglis replaced Alan Skurrie, who had held office for five years.

The company's growth was evident in the 1989-90 annual report, which recorded the expenditures of AUD 2 billion on acquisitions and capital equipment during the five years.

Although the program was ambitious, the funding for Amcor’s investments had mainly come from internal cash flow, sales of assets, and borrowing. Therefore, the program could be considered financially conservative.

During the same period, Amcor acquired Sunclipse Incorporated, a California-based corrugated box manufacturer and distributor of packaging products.

Amcor also developed Amcor Packaging (Europe), which was Amcor’s first investment in the United Kingdom. This was a corrugated box plant situated in Cambridgeshire, a greenfield site.

At the turn of the decade, Amcor made one last acquisition, that of a 49% share of SACOC, a French corrugated box manufacturer.

Key Takeaway 3: Pursue New Avenues Of Growth

Amcor’s performance during this decade could only be described as an ambitious pursuit of growth from all possible avenues.

The company undertook multiple strategic acquisitions that helped consolidate its existing business and expand and diversify its holdings.

The company also took the initiative to undergo a name change to reflect its evolving business model. Not only that, but the company even adapted its business model to suit its strategic vision of growth.

All its efforts of restructuring, acquisitions, and rebranding itself paid off in the end, which was also reflected in its annual reports. Amcor effectively pursued all available avenues of growth to bolster its business in a competitive environment.

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Diversification Drives Growth Of Amcor

Amcor’s strategic progress during the 1980s resulted in a highly diversified firm at the start of the new decade.

Although the new decade brought new challenges and opportunities for the company, Amcor continued to stick to its successful diversification strategy.

Setting The Tone For The New Decade

By the end of Amcor’s diversification drive in the 1980s, paper only accounted for 19% of its sales in 1990, in contrast to the 57% it used to comprise just a decade before.

Amcor's acquisitions in the previous decade were the main reason for its consequent diversification. The company endeavored to maintain the momentum it had created in the previous decade and carried it forward into the 1990s.

The company had also extensively increased its presence beyond Australia to the extent that it felt necessary to organize these activities systematically. In June 1990, Amcor formed Amcor Fiber Packaging, which was meant to manage the group's international corrugated box manufacturing and other related activities.

Amcor Fiber Packaging included the following operations:

  • APM Packaging
  • Kiwi Packaging
  • Sunclipse
  • Amcor Packaging (Europe)
  • SACOC
  • Anfor

At the time, Amcor possessed the capacity to manufacture around 1 million tons of corrugated products per year, thereby accounting for more than half of the capacity of others outside Australia.

In keeping with its ambitions, the company continued the process of acquisitions. In 1991, Amcor’s Containers Packaging subsidiary added New Zealand Can Ltd. to its holdings for AUD 45 million.

It also bought an eventual 42% stake in Spicers Paper Ltd. - an Australian stationery producer - along with acquiring a 49% portion of Willander Holdings, another corrugated box manufacturer stationed in the United Kingdom. 

Reorganizing The Core Business

In 1993, Amcor shifted its focus from diversification to consolidating its readily expanding holdings into three primary divisions:

  • Containers Packaging
  • Amcor Fiber Packaging
  • Amcor Paper Group

The Containers Packaging division assumed responsibility for producing plastic and metal containers, specifically for food packaging. The company's corrugated cardboard products were delegated under the Amcor Fiber Packaging division. The Amcor Paper Group division was responsible for manufacturing paper, stationery, paperboard, and coated paper products.

The restructuring helped the company organize itself better and emphasized the efficiency and effectiveness of its operations.

Besides reorganizing the various businesses into three divisions, the company was also conscious of the need to sell off operations that either did not align with one of the categories specified above or no longer served any purpose as they were not profitable.

Some of the significant divestments made during this time were the company’s games division (which included Amcor’s rights to “Scrabble”), Amidale Industries Ltd., Croxley Collins Olympic N.Z., and Petersen Contact Stationers.

These steps allowed Amcor to focus its efforts on potentially more profitable operations and shed off the dead weight these operations had essentially become for the company.

Amcor Strategically Plants Itself

Between 1993 and 1994, Amcor had managed to purchase around 20 new holdings.

Subsequently, it then looked towards setting up new operations. As a result, new businesses took root and helped the company grow further.

An example of Amcor’s successful ventures was the operations at a new paper mill in Prewitt, New Mexico, in 1994. The company established a new mill that was dubbed the McKinley Paper Company.

The new operations were specifically devised to be cost-effective and strategically positioned to service the market in southern California and surrounding areas.

Because of the mill's high-end production quality and the efficiency of its operations, it readily received high accolades from Amcor's top Australian-based executives. Moreover, the McKinley location's intelligent geographic placement and capacity to serve the surrounding market made it even more significant for Amcor.

At the same time, Amcor also continued to expand internationally through acquisitions. In 1995, it made 12 major purchases and sold off four of its holdings. Amcor’s performance in that year indicated an increase in its revenue from the previous year by more than AUD 1 billion.

Amcor’s activity in 1996 followed a similar pattern as the company once again consolidated its holdings by making new purchases and getting rid of inconsistent and unprofitable operations by divesting.

Key Takeaway 4: Devise An Effective Strategy And Stick To It

Almost all of Amcor’s progress and growth during the 1990s can be attributed to the fact that the company was consistent in pursuing a strategy that had served it well in the past.

It was a classic case of finding what works for the business and sticking with it as long as it keeps yielding desirable results.

Amcor continued to pursue expansion through acquisitions which helped diversify its operations and consolidate its holdings. Through this tactic, the company achieved multiple goals at once, and it continued to prove effective over the years.

The company also made sure to divest the operations and businesses that were not of much use as they were either not aligning with Amcor’s future vision or were just an unprofitable burden on the company’s portfolio.

A New Millenium, A New Amcor

As Amcor entered a new chapter in its long, illustrious history, it again re-adjusted its approach to better reflect the socio-political context of the world.

In recent years, the Covid-19 pandemic also introduced various challenges that Amcor had to face. However, in the end, the company managed to pull through by adapting its business as the situation required.

Increasing Reach And Maintaining Profitability

Moving into the 2000s, Amcor was ready for more success because of the foundations it had set in the previous decades.

There was a shift toward environmental awareness. Companies were required to adapt to the public awareness models to become sustainable while keeping their markets expansive and operations competitive globally.

However, Amcor did not need to continue acquisitions and work to maintain a firm grip on the market since all the efforts that Amcor Limited made in the 1990s had secured their positions as one of the fiercest packaging industries in Australia and internationally.

Following this, Amcor reviewed its holdings and assets and removed those that were not core parts and were unsuitable for long time investment in the packaging industry. This included selling some of the Brown and Dureau divisions and Amcor Fiber Packaging Europe.

This dispossession was worth around 300 million USD but was a necessary step. As Amcor entered the 2000s, it prioritized global strategy with the Amcor Printing Papers Group being sold as part of a reorganization strategy, even though it was a decade-old part of the company.

In 2002, Amcor Ltd bought the PET bottle business of the German Schmalbach-Lubeca AG for 1.6 billion USD and became the biggest PET bottle manufacturer globally, along with the third-largest packaging company in the world.

Marking The Milestones Of The 2010s

By 2010, the outlook of world economies was bleak - with economies expected to slow down and material costs increasing. Amcor decided to tackle this challenge by adapting its model to emphasize profitability and investment.

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Toward this end, the company underwent various developments. In December 2013, Amcor demerged its Australasia and Packaging Distribution (AAPD) operations into a separate company - Orora.

Doing so allowed Amcor to focus on producing flexible and rigid packaging as well as tobacco packaging for overseas markets. In September 2015, it acquired Souza Cruz’s internal tobacco packaging operations in Brazil. Thus, Amcor worked towards its objective to expand in Latin America.

In the subsequent years, Amcor continued to acquire key businesses in essential markets such as Canada, South America, and North China.

These developments marked critical milestones for the company as it continued to maneuver to stay on top of the industry.

Amcor Reports Exceptional Results

In 2016, Amcor continued to operate on the same business strategy that it had used and benefitted from for years and continued to deliver results. The company reported an underlying profit of US$671.1 million, which Amcor attributed to its broad and diversified portfolio.

The company also made a few acquisitions across both of its business segments (Flexible Packaging and Rigid Plastics) during the year. Still, Amcor also achieved a significant part of its growth organically.

Moreover, the company actively invested in constructing greenfield plants for additional capacity.

In 2017, the company continued with its exceptional results and reported an increase in its sales margin from 11.2% to 12.0%, which was reflective of Amcor’s scale, execution, and attention to customer needs.

The company capitalized on its global reach and years of expertise to differentiate itself from the competition and appeal to the customers.

Amcor’s global programs enhanced its commercial performance and operational efficiency. It achieved these objectives by directing capital investment to opportunities with the highest prospects of growth and returns.

The Highs and Lows Of Business

Despite Amcor’s strong performance in the previous years, the packaging industry fared poorly in 2018 because of difficult marketplace conditions. Raw material prices were much higher, and demand volumes were low, which was non-conducive to good business.

Nevertheless, the company still maintained firm confidence in its strategic approach because of the defensive nature of Amcor’s business, along with the leadership strength and adaptability of the Amcor team.

Moreover, the company’s acquisition of Alusa in 2016 helped realize efficiencies in Amcor’s flexible-packaging business and expanded its presence in South America.

In 2019, the company saw a positive turn as net sales increased by 5.5% and adjusted net income by 9%.

The year also marked Amcor’s acquisition of Bemis – a global manufacturer of flexible packaging products and pressure-sensitive materials. Consequently, Amcor became the global leader in consumer packaging.

Amcor also identified sustainability as the one aspect that could differentiate it from the competition. Because of its consolidated business model and reliable strategy, Amcor was well-positioned to anticipate and satisfy the consumers’ demands regarding packaging. 

Amcor also got successfully listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 2019, soon after the Bemis acquisition.

Rising To The Challenge Of The Pandemic

Despite being faced with unexpected challenges due to the onset of the pandemic, the company delivered a strong performance and furthered its strategic agenda.

To minimize the effects of the coronavirus, Amcor laid out extensive protocols while deriving strength from the knowledge that the company was directly contributing to the supply of essential food, beverages, and healthcare products.

In 2020, Amcor reported a strong financial performance with a 7% increase in adjusted EBIT and a 13% increase in adjusted earnings per share.

The year also saw Amcor integrate the newly acquired Bemis operations into its business. Bemis was a high-end and well-invested business that was highly compatible with Amcor.

As a result, Amcor increased its exposure to high-value segments like Healthcare and Protein.

While the pandemic posed its challenges, it also made apparent the critical need for packaging in people’s lives – whether for hygiene or sterilization purposes.

At the same time, Amcor stressed the need to develop sustainable and responsible packaging solutions that offer differentiated functionality and minimize waste.

The essence of Amcor’s strategy for 2020 was a focused portfolio and differentiated capabilities geared toward the company’s ambition to be the leading global packaging company.

Amcor Today

In 2021, the company reported record results with an 8% increase in adjusted EBIT and a 16% increase in adjusted earnings per share, both on a comparable basis.

The synergy benefits from the Bemis acquisition exceeded expectations, with the company reporting $75 million for the year 2021.

The company attained leadership positions in every major geographic region with its performance in both rigid and flexible packaging.

Amcor also indicated optimism over developing more sustainable and responsible packaging because its expanding portfolio incorporated innovative solutions and partnerships with some of the world's biggest brands. The company doubled its usage of recycled resin in rigid packaging, embraced a new AmSkyTM platform to eliminate PVC from its packaging, and commercialized its polymer and paper-based platforms product ranges to ensure sustainability.

To increase agility and efficiency, Amcor also availed end-to-end hybrid cloud services.

Amcor’s strategic imperatives have remained unchanged from the previous years.

The company continued to pursue a focused portfolio as all its businesses shared the following significant characteristics:

  • Focused on primary packaging for fast-moving consumer goods
  • Good industry structure
  • Attractive relative growth
  • Multiple paths for the company to win through its leadership position, scale, and ability to differentiate its product offering through innovation

At the same time, Amcor’s differentiated capabilities such as talent, commercial excellence, operational leadership, innovation, and cash and capital discipline helped it attain an edge across its portfolio.

Over the years, Amcor’s strategic approach has been quite consistent along with its business model. It possesses a unique combination of talented people, differentiated capabilities, and global reach that provides a competitive edge in the market.

Amcor’s strategic imperatives align with its aspiration to serve its customer by developing and providing environment-friendly packaging and becoming the world’s leading packaging company.

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Key Takeaway 5: Keep Your Eye On The Prize

Amcor continues to deliver strong results despite the various obstacles and challenges thrown its way by consistently working toward its goal.

The company has a razor-sharp focus on what it wants to achieve and has a solid plan to help it achieve its objective.

Despite the unexpected developments such as the pandemic, the company continued to follow its strategic imperatives, thereby not getting negatively impacted by the pandemic and continuing its strong performance.

The company did not need to drastically change its approach to pursuing growth and profitability during the pandemic. Instead, it achieved exceptional results with the same trusted strategy.

Summary & Strategic Takeaways

Amcor has had a phenomenal journey since its predecessors set up shop in 1868. It’s remarkable journey of growth is a result of a myriad of strategies working in tandem with each other. What’s more, is that it’s well and truly on its way to becoming the premier packaging solutions provider - just as it envisions. 

Amcor’s Growth Depicted Through Numbers

2010

2021

Annual Global Sales

US$ 9,849.5 million

US$ 12.9 billion

Employees

35,000

46,000

Gross Profit

$1,742.1 million

$2,732 million

Dividend per share

29.5 cents

47.0 cents

Strategic Takeaways

  1. Branching The Business Out Is Essential

As Amcor continued to pursue growth, it expanded into regions and territories beyond Australia. Doing so helped it tap into critical markets even as early as the 1980s when Amcor accessed customers across Asia.

Amcor had developed a significant presence across the globe over the years and is now running its operations over 225 sites worldwide. Its efforts to branch out beyond its borders helped transform Amcor from an Australian company into a global player.

  1. Firm Foundations Are Key to Long-term Growth

Amcor's growth was based upon the firm foundation that the company had laid for itself in the previous years. Its extensive acquisition efforts had helped the company diversify, expand, and consolidate its business to such an extent that it could easily navigate obstacles and difficulties.

Moreover, Amcor's acquisitions were strategically planned, which meant that every development was part of a well-thought-out vision the company had crafted for itself. Thus, the company was relatively secure against any undesirable developments in the long run.

  1. Diversification Drives Growth

Although Amcor started as a papermaking business, it eventually diversified its production to include a range of complementary packaging solutions. Despite diversifying, the company still ensured that its production was organized under a few core divisions, which bolstered the overall efficiency of the different operations. 

The company also made its business more secure against any unexpected developments by diversifying. Since it is always a good idea to not put all your eggs in one basket. What's more, is that Amcor's diversification drive is the main propellent behind its growth.

  1. Adapt To Meet Challenges Head-On

Amcor's ability to adapt shone through most clearly during the war when its normal mode of functioning was essentially supplanted. The company devised innovative means of coping with the changes and managed to not only survive but thrive during the difficult times.

Amcor also adjusted its business approach according to the socio-economic context; for example, it began emphasizing and pursuing sustainable and responsible packaging in response to pollution concerns.

This ability to mold itself according to the market context has served the company well and ensured its steady climb to the top of the industry, and continues to pave the way for Amcor's ambitions.

Amcor’s journey from a simple paper making company to a leading global packaging company is a result of its enhanced capabilities, including diverse talent, commercial excellence, operational leadership, innovation, and financial savviness. At its core, Amcor has always been about protecting, preserving, and promoting products through innovative packaging, all the while taking care of its people, delighting customers, benefiting investors, and safeguarding the environment. 

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