Grigiskes: young, small and flexible

In trying to describe a company, we can trace a Cartesian plane and on the x-axis, place tissue paper production – common to all companies working in this field – and on the y-axis, the place where this company works. The latter represents a fundamental variable that has its foundations in the culture of a country, its consumers’ purchasing habits, and per force influences consumption and product trends.

Maura Leonardi

In the present context of globalization, being able to preserve one’s traditional habits and customs, the somatic traits of one’s culture and identity is certainly a positive endeavor. And this is exactly what Lithuania transmits: a country that has succeeded perfectly in fitting in with the global context, but that has at the same time been able to preserve its spirit of pride and independence. For many, Lithuania is a little-known country that brings to mind far-away places of Northern Europe. Its “anonymity” with respect to an international context has pushed it to create its own brand, finalized at promoting and strengthening the Lithuanian spirit, brave and independent: “Lithuania, a brave country!”


THE COMMUNICATION CAMPAIGN THAT IS PRESENTLY BEING CARRIED OUT is focused on representing Lithuania in different environments: culture, sport and tourism. This country, with a surface of 65,301 square kilometers, is the largest of the Baltic Republics. Since May 1st, 2004, it is part of the European Union. And this fact has marked an important change of extreme political and economic significance for this country that has always walked on a track of independence. Vilnius, the capital, is located just 25 kilometers south of the exact center of Europe, a geographic feature that highlights the strategic position of this city as a bridge on the Baltic. Vilnius is also the headquarters of Grigiskes, Lithuania’s only producer and converter of tissue products.


INVOLVED FOR 150 YEARS IN THE PAPER AND WOOD INDUSTRY, Grigiskes Paper Mill’s history begins in 1823 with the Kuckuriskes Paper Manufactory facilities for paper production, presently part of the Grigiskes Group. In 1923, Grigas Kurecas, a brilliant businessman, began building the Grigiskes Paper Mill, and the name derives from the fusion of two important components: the name of its founder (Grigas) and the location of the facilities, built at the confluence of the Neris and Voké rivers. The history of Grigiskes will be highlighted by the historical events of WWII. Bombings destroyed the facilities, which were quickly rebuilt in 1945. With the advent of the Russian occupation and Socialist policies established, the company was nationalized. Today, Grigiskes Paper Mill is a private company belonging to the Grigiskes AB Group Incorporated Naujieji Verkiai. The business is diversified: production of corrugated board, wooden panels and varnished wood panels, production of toilet rolls, kitchen towels and industrial rolls.


GINTAUTAS PANGONIS, MANAGING DIRECTOR, IS PROUD TO INTRODUCE US TO HIS COMPANY. With four PMs and an annual production of 24,000 tons, Grigiskes converts 21,000 tons per year of tissue paper.

“Converting began in 1996, when the first rewinder, a model 813 by Fabio Perini S.p.A. and, for packaging, a Cassoli (today KPL Packaging S.p.A.) line was chosen. The second converting line, a model 35.01 line, was purchased from PCMC and some months ago our machine lot – which also includes machinery for folded and inter-folded products – was broadened with the addition of a Sincro model 5.5 line by Fabio Perini S.p.A. This investment was dictated by our desire to place high quality toilet rolls and kitchen towels on the market. With its entrance into the EU, Lithuania attained the important goal that has allowed us to enter into a global context, favoring an enhancement in the quality of life: average salary has increased by 20-25% with a consequent increase in consumption in all fields.” Even though Lithuania is still an emerging country, the growth levels registered are certainly to be noted. For example, per capita consumption of tissue products is today 5 kg and has tripled in just four years. GDP growth of goods and services is around 7.1%; US 40.17 billion dollars represents total GDP while per capita GDP is US 11,200 dollars.


WITH ITS PRESENT POPULATION OF 3,436,561, TOILET ROLL CONSUMPTION IS ABOUT 15,000,000/18,000,000 EVERY TWO MONTHS, and the consumption standard has gradually abandoned low quality products in favor of higher range ones. “Today, consumption habits have changed and consumers are focusing on superior quality products. The standards demanded by the market are clear: soft, embossed, colored products, aesthetically pleasing not only for what concerns the roll but also the packaging, and above all, high quality.

Being part of the EU favored the entrance of international products into our market, and this introduced also changes in consumption habits”, explains Pangonis. Today competition is strong but the strength of Grigiskes lies in choosing avant-garde, winning technology and offering products having high quality standards. In 2008, the tissue market registered a 10% volume increase while registering a 30% increase in value. These figures clearly show how consumption has shifted towards a higher range of products.


GRIGISKES’ FOCUS BRAND IS CALLED GRITE. What makes this brand special is the amusing anecdote that lies behind its name. “In Lithuania, Grite is a typical woman’s name but the meaning of the brand Grite has another etymology, born from the fusion of Grigiskes Toilet. Many women have made ironies over the use of this name for hygienic products,” the managing director explains with a smile. Today, Grite is an established brand in Lithuania in the realm of both toilet rolls and kitchen towels: Grite Orchidea, Grite Lady Rose, Grite Lilia are just some of Grigiskes brand products directed at the consumer market. With a market share of 43% for toilet rolls and 24% for kitchen towels, this company exports 50% of production to nearby countries: Belarus, Latvia, Estonia and Poland. Next to the range of rolled products are also napkins produced in the format that is most requested in Lithuania, 24x24. “The trend for folded products is surely on the rise; we have a 15% market share, but in the future napkin consumption will increase. We also currently produce the 33x33 format, but this is still a slowly developing niche market” states Gintautas Pangonis.


AND WHAT ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT? WHAT ARE THE INSTRUMENTS USED TO FAVOR A REDUCED ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT? “For us, too, the environment is a main issue. We have been trying to reduce CO2 production for some years now, and we must remember that respect for the environment is an issue that many poeple have at heart in our country, so much so that recycled products cover 70% of production”. The environment and greenery are certainly two factors characteristic of Lithuanian culture, as most of the territory is comprised of woods, lakes and virgin lands. Lithuanians have a privileged relationship with nature and nurture a deep respect for it. And it is quaint how every inhabitant boasts of having planted a tree during his or her lifetime. Children are taught to respect the environment practically from birth.


TO THE QUESTION: WHAT ARE THE THREE ADJECTIVES TO DESCRIBE THE ESSENCE OF THIS INDUSTRIAL ENTITY that employs 700 people (all fields of activity included) on a surface of 570,000 square meters, Pangonis gave us a clear and synthetic answer: “Small, flexible and young are the three adjectives that we can use to describe Grigiskes. Small because, if we consider our size, we represent a small entity within the tissue field as a whole. Flexible because we answer quickly to market demands. And young because, despite our long history, we have a team of young people who work in the different company sectors bringing the creativity and new ideas that allow us to launch new products on the market. One of these is represented by the new Grite Vivo colored toilet rolls, conceived to satisfy the needs of the entire family. Its message is diffused through three exceptional testimonials: Simo, Manto and Ievos, three children who synthesize the choices available to every family component”. Grigiskes may well be defined small, young and flexible. But it is also leader of the Lithuanian market.

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