Gomà-Camps: a 250-year-old history

In this article, we will describe the spirit of initiative and entrepreneurial capability of Gomà-Camps, the main independent group in Spain that has been present in the field of tissue production and converting for 10 generations.

Maura Leonardi

The acquisitions that have taken place in the tissue business in these last 10 years have deeply changed the structure of the market, allowing the rise of multinational groups. The elimination of barriers and the subsequent liberalisation of markets, have become two key elements in the worldwide economic scenario: they have brought about a selection among the companies on the market, thus influencing the management strategies of the small and medium-sized companies. An economic phenomenon with Darwinian effects: only few specimens can survive the new environmental conditions, thus guaranteeing the evolution of the species. It seems like La Riba (Tarragona) - Spain - has not been affected by this phenomenon, as if time had stood still.

In order to tell 250 years of history, 250 pages would probably be necessary. However, in this article, we will describe the spirit of initiative and entrepreneurial capability of Gomà-Camps, the main independent group in Spain that has been present in the field of tissue production and converting for 10 generations. Thanks to a management strategy aimed at maintaining the leadership and increasing the market share in full respect of the family tradition, Gomà-Camps is today the leading group in the AfH sector with a market share of 23% and is determined to further grow and conquer new markets.

THE STORY STARTED OUT IN 1758, IN THE SMALL TOWN OF LA RIBA (TARRAGONA), WHERE THE HEADQUARTERS OF THE GROUP ARE STILL LOCATED; in that year the Earl De Prades granted Frances Camps i Grases (the founder of the company) the permit to install a mill to produce writing paper. In the years that followed, the production was switched to cigarette paper, then packaging paper, until in 1968 Jordi Gomà-Camps i Sierra and Maties Gomà-Camps i Ferré decided to start tissue production, with PM4. The capability to fit into any epoch and circumstance constituted the basis for the company to become leader in the South European market as far as tissue (both virgin and recycled fibre) production and distribution (toilet rolls, table napkins, tablecloths, facial hankies, industrial products).

The expansion policy started at the beginning of the 1990s led to the foundation of Gomà-Camps France S.A.S., in 1993, and Gomà-Camps Portugal S.A., in 1995, two important companies that enabled Gomà-Camps to expand beyond the Spanish territory, thus consolidating its position in the whole Iberian peninsula. The Group has a market share of 6% in Portugal and France. The production and converting sites located in Spain - La Riba and Vilaverd -, France - Castres - and Portugal - Constãncia - cover a wide-ranging production, as far as product quality, type and dimensions.

CUSTOMER-ORIENTATION, FLEXIBILITY, SERVICES AND WIDE RANGE OF PRODUCTS ARE THE KEY ELEMENTS OF THE STRATEGY OF THE GROUP, which establishes a loyalty and collaboration relation with its customers. This aim has been pursued through investments in high-level technology and flexible machinery, able to offer products with different formats and typologies.

The Group, present on the market with the brands Olimpic and GC, has a turnover of 100 million Euro and a production capacity of 70,000 t/y. Pride, experience, competence and tradition are the qualities that complete the portrait of this 100% family-owned company.

The experience acquired in the course of the years has conferred the competence and entrepreneurial ability to best answer the customers’ needs; and the family tradition has resulted in the pride to maintain and enhance the company’s activity through continuous innovation. The Group considers innovation a chance rather than a risk, as shown by its development policy and the specialisation in the production of recycled tissue. Its 25,000-26,000 t/y of recycled product, guarantees Gomà-Camps a leading and competitive position on the market.

THE MAIN PRODUCTS THE GROUP APPEALS TO ARE THOSE DEDICATED TO THE HORECA (HOTEL, RESTAURANT, CATERING) market, for which the company offers table and hygienic products, and a complete and personalised service according to the customer’s specific needs. Josep Gomà-Camps Reboltòs, Managing Director, comments: “Personalisation is a strategic element for table products as much as quality is fundamental for hygienic products. Combining colours and logos in table products is our added-value, and offering high-quality hygienic products - toilet rolls, industrial towels, etc. - is a key element of our philosophy. Production flexibility is the first strategic aspect to maintain leadership and establish a loyalty relationship with our customers. Thanks to an industrial production strategy based on flexibility, Gomà-Camps is able to answer all customers’ needs, offering a wide range of products and services”.

SAYS ANTONIO MARTÍN, SALES DIRECTOR OF THE HORECA DIVISION: “THE AFH MARKET IS BECOMING VERY COMPETITIVE and the quality level of products is increasing; for example, the French market is highly competitive as far as product quality and quantity. Gomà-Camps is fitting into this demand scenario, enhancing the quality of its products.

Commodity products must be competitive today: the market requires products able to stand out and to attract the attention of the final user. This is the reason that it is important to concentrate on efficiency and high production capacity through the use of fast and efficient machines able to guarantee competitive products. In the AfH market, communication is company-oriented, so our communications strategy aims at focussing on the values of Gomà-Camps. Our group is a specialist in the institutional market, able to offer a wide range of high-quality products and a complete tailor-made service, through which we offer not only the product itself but also the dispenser”.

THE FUNDAMENTAL AND CHARACTERISTIC ELEMENTS OF THE MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS ACTIVITY OF GOMÀ-CAMPS ARE 3: wide range of products, service and quality, all indispensable aspects to establish a long-term partnership relation with the customer. Not only a commercial relation but a veritable collaboration.

“Thanks to its history, Gomà-Camps S.A. can offer its customers technology, experience and innovation. Our family tradition is a source of pride for us, and our independence leads us to continuously grow,” adds Maties Gomà-Camps Reboltòs, Plant Director.

Maintaining independence is one important aspect in the company’s strategy and the new conditions of the market, which has become increasingly competitive and specialised, have led to the engagement of external personnel in the company’s management: qualified professionals that collaborate in guiding the company. The compromise between the family and the shareholders has the common target of independence. “The compromise reflects the ability to work in the company at one’s best, sharing the company’s values and following its direction: in other words, participation”, explains Josep Gomà-Camps Reboltòs. The right combination between family and external managers represents an excellent solution, as testified by last year’s 3.7% growth in the Spanish market, where the average tissue consumption is 560,000 tons.

“The people who work in Gomà-Camps S.A. believe in the company, in its projects and in its philosophy”, says Maties Gomà-Camps.

THE TISSUE MARKET IS VERY YOUNG, MAINLY DEVELOPED IN THE EUROPEAN AREA, in which many companies in these last 10 years, at the end of the generation of the founding fathers, have sold to a third party, usually multinationals, thus interrupting the continuity of the family management. But this is not the case of Gomà-Camps S.A., strongly determined to carry on its growth in complete independence, as shown by its Mission and Vision statements. The Mission reads: ”The Gomà-Camps Group is a family-owned company, with 250 years of experience in the field of integrated production of tissue paper with the main focus on the quality and quantity of the products offered, both in virgin fibre and recycled fibre tissue”.

Integrity, service, innovation, competitiveness and growth are the values shared by the 520 people currently working in the company. Honest relations based on respect and transparency represent the preconditions for mutual confidence to guarantee everyone’s involvement in the company’s activity: all this constitutes the basis of integrity, in the opinion of Gomà-Camps’ management. The service activity is carried out in continuous collaboration with customers, who are offered solutions according to their specific needs, through an increasingly evolving quality system that guarantee a high added-value service.

Innovation transforms ideas into enhanced processes, services and products, whose value the market recognises. Ideas are fundamental for the development of technology and of technical, economic and human resources and for a deeper market knowledge. The company’s vision is founded on the concepts of growth and competitiveness and aims at widening and consolidating its leading position on the market. Experience, continuous technological innovation - guaranteeing product quality - and professional competence are the fundamental elements for the product and sales expansion, both domestically and internationally, in the Mediterranean area.

AND WHAT ABOUT THE FUTURE? The growth perspectives of the group are towards the consolidation of the market share in the institutional segment and a further growth in the consumer segment.

The institution of the new company GC&Wepa, born from the joint venture with the German independent group Wepa, owned by the Krengel family, is a very important project, aiming at consolidating the position in the consumer segment. The main purpose of the new company will be the production and distribution of tissue products for the Iberian and French markets.

The new plant, located in Ejea de los Caballeros near Zaragoza, will be one of the most modern production sites in Europe, with a production and converting capacity of 60,000 t/y, offering a complete range of tissue products: toilet rolls, kitchen towels, table napkins, facial hankies. The new company, 50% Spanish and 50% German, will allow Gomà-Camps to consolidate its market share in the consumer sector - where it is present with private label products but with a very low share - and to convey more energy onto the institutional segment, thus further specialising in this area.

“It is important to underline that Gomà-Camps is an independent group, both strategically and financially. GC&Wepa will be an independent parallel company with respect to Gomà-Camps S.A., active in the consumer market”, explains Antonio Martín.

“THE WILL TO EXPAND and to diversify our product range and the need to grow to survive on the market are the main criteria of our agreement with Wepa, which is an independent and family-owned group too”, adds Maties Gomà-Camps.

“The Ejea project is very strategic also from the logistic point of view. The new plant will become a distribution platform allowing us to reach new markets in Southern Europe”, observes Josep Gomà-Camps Reboltòs.

The Spanish group’s policy of international commercial expansion aims at consolidating the group’s position in the Mediterranean area, which offers good chances for development with new markets with excellent growth opportunities.

Morocco is an example, offering a market of 30 million potential consumers and with a low penetration of tissue products, which can only increase.

An opportunity likely to guarantee 250 more years of history! •

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