Mattoni is omnipresent in Czechia, as evidenced by a market share of over 50 per cent that underlines the group’s success: “Mattonka” is in this country regarded as synonymous with carbonated mineral water. Mattoni’s trademark is the white eagle, which you will find – similar to the well-known Osborne bull in Spain – umpteen times over in prominent locations, most notably on the labels of Mattoni’s water bottles.
When Antonio Pasquale went to Czechia and purchased the mineral water bottler Karlovaske Mineralni Vodi a.s. in 1990, this was initially only intended to keep him occupied during his retirement. His and his family’s historical business in Padua, Italy, was trading in wine and beer, and also producing flavoured carbonated soft drinks for the local market. From the 80s, the Aquavera water brand, built up and later sold by his father, had been at the time the best-seller on the Italian mineral water market.
But in Czechia things were to turn out quite differently for the Pasquale family than was originally expected. This was because the purchase of Karlovaske Mineralni Vodi a.s. company was only the springboard to the beverage market of Eastern Europe. Antonio Pasquale rapidly developed the company to become the market leader in Czech Republic and invested substantially in refurbishing his operation; and his son Alessandro, who joined the firm in 2003 and took over the reins five years later, purposefully expanded the enterprise’s business abroad across all of central Europe. Due to this rigorous expansion thrust, the annual sales of the company had risen from 15 million fills in 1991 to 1.05 billion in 2017. By the end of 2017, the little empire comprised a total of nine bottling facilities in the east of Central Europe:
- Five in Czechia
- Two in Hungary
- One in Austria
- One in Bulgaria as an official PepsiCo bottler
Early in 2018, the group came up with another, surprising acquisition: it was appointed bottler for the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia by PepsiCo and took over two production plants and three subsidiaries in these regions. This acquisition will increase the group’s turnover by fifty per cent, and make it the biggest vendor of mineral water and soft drinks in these three countries.
Force to reckon with
“We must have fun with what we do” and “We never give up”.
In these, the Mattoni Group produces more than 170 different beverages for over 30 countries, which makes for a turnover of roughly 300 million euros, even 450 million euros after the PepsiCo merger. The principal market for the Mattoni Group continues to be Czechia, where its share in water comes to more than 50 per cent. “But size doesn’t mean something has to be boring,” says Alessandro Pasquale. As recently as two years ago, he coined two golden rules for his company: “We must have fun with what we do” and “We never give up”.
These rules are symptomatic for the company’s boss: enthusiasm, dynamic vigour and market clout are attributes he sets great store by. “We are happy in our part of the world, one with plenty of scope for individual initiative,” he explains. Here, in the east of Central Europe, is where he sees the future of his company, too. In answer to the question of whether in his view the markets to the west of Czechia were already oversaturated he says: “Not necessarily, but work is more exciting over here.” The group’s market shares speak for themselves:
- 12 per cent in Slovakia
- 17 per cent in Austria
- 30 per cent in Hungary
- 50 per cent in Czechia
Business is also flourishing for Mattoni in Poland, Bulgaria and Germany. In addition to mineral water and flavoured water, which account for around 60 and 30 per cent of sales respectively, Mattoni has meanwhile been producing various other so ft drinks as well. “So far, we’ve been making everything except energy drinks,” he says.
Greenfield plant in Mnichov
Needless to say, the group has over the years likewise invested substantially in its filling capacities and state-of-the-art kit. Alessandro Pasquale’s estimate for the sum total of capital expenditure is roughly 300 million euros. The Kyselka plant near Carlsbad, for example, possesses five lines of its own, which produce preforms to be blow-moulded into 1.5-litre PET bottles, and also its own railway siding for distributing the filled containers in Czechia.
While his father was still at the helm, from 1999 to 2001 a greenfield plant was erected around 50 kilometres from the main plant, in Mnichov u Mariánských Lázní. The water from the spring there contains relatively large quantities of magnesium, but not much sodium or calcium. So logically enough this water brand was given the
name of Magnesia. Two lines are up and running in this facility: one installed in 2000 with kit from different manufacturers, also including a Krones Contiform blow-moulder, plus a new Krones line commissioned in 2015 featuring a Contiform Bloc.
Filling in the Contiform Bloc
The new PET line in the Mnichov plant fills the Magnesia mineral water in 1.5-litre PET containers, plus medicinal water in 0.7-litre PET bottles. It is rated at 25,000 containers per hour and includes:
- Contiflow mixer
- VarioClean CIP system
- Contiform Bloc featuring a Contiform blow-moulder and a Modulfill VFS counterpressure filler
- Contiroll HS wrap-around labeller, block-synchronised with a Sleevematic labeller
Complete lines from Krones
Mnichov was the latest major capital expenditure so far that the Mattoni Group channelled in new bottling kit. For this project, the company deliberately opted for Krones as the general contractor. “We put a lot of trust in Krones,” admits Alessandro Pasquale. Besides a whole series of Contiform blow-moulders and a variety of upgrades in existing lines, since 2008 Mattoni has also opted for Krones throughout when ordering complete lines.
- 2008: aseptic line in the Kyselka plant in Czechia
- 2011: one of the first lines featuring an ErgoBloc L in the Dobra Voda plant in Czechia
- 2013: PET line in its Austrian facility
- 2015: new line featuring a Contiform Bloc in Mnichov
- 2018: planned installation of two lines in Austria and Hungary, each featuring an ErgoBloc L and rated at 32,000 containers per hour
Standardisation and digitalisation
For Alessandro Pasquale, the ErgoBloc L is something quite special, because “it’s a preliminary stage for a complete block-synchronised line”. What he would like best is to have a line incorporating all systems, from bottle production right through to packing the bottles in sixpacks, and this without any intermediate conveyors whatsoever, on an ultra-compact footprint.
When planning his lines, there are currently two major aspects that take priority above all else for Mattoni’s boss: standardisation and digitalisation. “What we’re aiming for is a maximally standardised organisation for our business. This also means that we want our many lines in all the various facilities to be maximally identical, but also that our individual plants can exchange spares among each other, and we can at need delegate properly qualified operators from one plant to another. You see, in Eastern Europe it’s not all that simple to find appropriately trained machine staff. But it’s also essential to digitalise the entire group, so as to have centralised access to every individual plant and line. Here we’ve still got some way to go, but the goal is clearly in sight.”
Krones has for quite a long time now been our main supplier of machinery, and things are going to stay that way in the future too.
In order to make sure this objective is achieved, Mattoni relies on a cooperation partner with a proven track record: “Krones has for quite a long time now been our main supplier of machinery, and things are going to stay that way in the future too. We’re very interested in a long-term, reliable alliance. Their technology is top-notch, service support and price are spot-on, the company displays a high level of flexibility, and their headquarters in Neutraubling aren’t all that far away, either. In order to modernise the state of the art in our plants rigorously and purposefully, we will over the next few years need about two new lines a year,” says Alessandro Pasquale.
But it’s not only the plants that are being refurbished, the company’s image is revamped as well, at least in Czechia. There, people will have to get used to some new forms of the Mattoni eagle. Following a competition among artists, in future every likeness created will have its own distinctive, in some cases abstract shape. But the eagle has long since landed in Czechia – and is at present re-inventing itself.
In late 2017, the Mattoni Group from Czechia leaped the magic hurdle of one billion fills for the first time.
Modulfill VFS counter-pressure filler.
The new PET line in the Mnichov plant fills the Magnesia mineral water in 1.5-litre PET containers, plus medicinal water in 0.7-litre PET bottles, and is rated at 25,000 containers per hour.
At Mattoni, the Contiroll HS wrap-around labeller is block-synchronised with a Sleevematic labeller.
The water from the spring in Mnichov u Mariánských Lázní contains relatively large quantities of magnesium, but not much sodium or calcium. So logically enough this water brand was given the name of Magnesia.