An Evolving Business: How Consol Glass Is Going Global Seventy-four years ago Consol was just manufacturing glass in a single plant. Today it has firmly established itself in three other African territories and continues to spread the word: The best things come in glass.
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What started as a single glass plant supplying the beer and beverage industries has evolved into the company that supplies 80% of South Africa's glass containers.
"We're using South Africa as a springboard to get into the rest of Africa, starting with acquiring a glass-making business in Kenya, and another in Nigeria," says Johan du Plessis, Senior Executive: Information Systems and Technology at Consol Glass. "We're also in the process of building a new factory in Ethiopia."
What is Consol's business ethos?
The Consol Vision is to be the supplier and pack of choice across Africa — while continuing to retain its status as the industry leader in the South African market. To achieve this requires a particular approach and as a business Consol is clear and unyielding on its operational parameters, and excellence is at the heart of this position.
A spirit of innovation and collaboration and working side by side with customers to create a product that adds quality to life, underpins the Consol approach to doing business.
Determined to always exceed customer expectations in beauty, function and quality is an attitude that's engrained in the company and ensures Consol retains its leadership position.
How have you developed a product that the market responds to?
We've tapped into an existing market with an established product. Our client base ranges from bigger home industry and craft beer and craft gin, to collaborations with brand owners.
We work closely with major partners during the concept and design process to accomplish distinctive features like embossing or debossing and colour, to differentiate their product. Our customers use glass to premiumise their product.
Known as trailblazers, in 2017 alone, Consol launched 56 new product innovations. This progress and innovation is also why every year, Consol products are recognised in the IPSA Gold Pack Awards.
Consol is also committed to responding to the needs of niche markets and smaller clients, such as the microbreweries industry, for whom the company regularly creates turn-key glass packaging solutions.
We also co-brand with other companies, like we recently did with Crosse & Blackwell mayonnaise.
What inspired the Consol Shop?
Consol is often perceived as a "vessel brand', when in fact it's a versatile, recognisable part of the consumer's everyday lifestyle — providing solutions for storage, serving, décor and more. Consol responded to the call for greater access to its products and opened its first shop in 2004.
Today Consol has three retail outlets: Woodmead (JHB), Stellenbosch (CT) and Cornubia (KZN) — all modern, industrial chic stores. The Consol Shops give consumers and small businesses access to glass packaging in any quantity — single items or bulk purchases.
The shops are also the perfect setting in which to illustrate how best to put glass to good use and the concepts are plentiful and creative.
What role has Sage and Parity played in your business success?
Sage X3's cost-effective and standard format not only helps us with mining, but using it for our retail section made us realise we could create more of these stores without reinventing the wheel. It's a new-age type of software where the user interface can be operated from anywhere using its state-of-the-art browser.
Sage X3 is flexible and easily configurable, so our retail-specific backend could be built. It's not as lengthy as your typical ERP process, the cost of training is lower and owning and operating it is simpler. We converted our Cornubia store to Sage X3 after its amazing success at our Woodmead and Stellenbosch locations.
Why choose Sage X3 powered by Parity?
- Time is money in Consol's world and Parity enabled Consol to deploy a full retail solution in three months, accommodating Consol's functional requirements and a customised user interface to Consol's corporate image.
- Real-time tracking of business processes and key business KPIs, with the system accessible from anywhere.
- The Sage X3 and NextPOS system has brought agility to our retail business, we can cost- effectively deploy more branches in a short space of time.
- Customer service levels were improved with a system that can work seamlessly off-line when required.
- Staff efficiencies improved through system processes, for example, the ease of use of price updates in the shop environment.