Page 4: Globalisation
The packaging industry, like many others, has been experiencing a period of fundamental change over the last 30 years. National or regional markets are merging into a single, global marketplace, facilitated by dramatic developments in communications and transportation. At the same time, international trade barriers have been falling away, allowing for the free movement of goods and services. The world market itself has also been expanding, with the emergence of new players from the former communist bloc in Eastern Europe and Asia, as well as the development of large transnational markets like the European Union, the North American Free Trade Association, and the Association of South East Asian Nations.
To meet these challenges and to avail of the new opportunities which they represent, the Jefferson Smurfit Group has pursued a course of geographically balanced growth. Strategic decisions led to expansion into the United Kingdom when significant further growth in Ireland was unlikely. Similarly, expansion into the United States and Latin America began when European prospects appeared unattractive.
Expansion in Europe was later facilitated by the emergence of the Single Market and the growing need for pan-European packaging suppliers. Today, the Group has taken its first steps toward expansion into the Far East, where new markets and new opportunities beckon. At the same time, however, it has been the policy of the Smurfit Group to invest power at the local level. Group headquarters concerns itself with overall performance and cash management, while operational matters like customer relations, performance efficiencies and pricing are left to local management who are familiar with local trading conditions. This means that the Smurfit Group can offer the range and scope of a global company, while at the same time providing customer service which is locally tailored.
The Genesis Project
A global company with many individual, locally managed facilities must have a communications infrastructure which allows for the free and instant sharing of information throughout the organisation. Ideas and innovations need to be freely shared among the various companies, while local trading information, management reporting and corporate policy need to be effectively communicated between the individual companies and the global headquarters. For this reason, the Genesis Project was born.
Phase 1 of the Genesis Project includes the creation of a company-wide Intranet for intra-company knowledge sharing, the enhancement of reporting systems throughout the Group, and the integration of accounting, purchasing, inventory and maintenance systems into a Group-wide implementation. Subsequent phases will take this initiative into other areas of Group operations, to include estimation, order processing, planning and transportation functions.