Pulling out all the stops: how Guala Closures is leading the luxury market

IWSC news

Thu 26 Oct 2023

By Sarah Miller

In today’s ultra competitive market, drinks companies are pulling out all the stops to promote their brands using packaging that will stand out on supermarket shelves and online. But while beautiful bottles and gorgeous gift boxes steal the limelight and the headlines, closures - which are undoubtedly every bit as important - can be all too easily overlooked.

Beyond the obvious function of protecting and preserving the liquid inside the bottle, closures also form an integral part of a brand’s identity. And it’s not just about how a closure functions, or how well it complements and enhances the bottle and label design; opening a bottle is also a physical experience and one that is often associated with special and memorable occasions, especially so in the luxury market.

Guala Closures have been creating high-quality bottle closures for almost 70 years and, conscious of their role in both promoting and protecting brands, are committed to constantly evolving and improving the products they offer their customers. To that end, and in a strategic move to help the Group become a world leader in the luxury segment, Guala Closures acquired Labrenta - an Italian company specialised in high-end bottle closures - in July 2022.

Labrenta’s plant in Breganze, Northern Italy, joined Guala Closures’ six other specialised research and development centres worldwide, enabling the Group to offer the most complete high-end collection of closure models on the market. Furthermore, with a vast range of sizes and shapes as well as materials - from aluminium to wood, ceramic and special polymers - and decorations including debossing, engraving, lithography and silk-screen printing, Guala Closures are able to produce unique, tailor-made closures that are designed according to the individual needs of each brand.

Of course functionality and safety is also paramount, and Guala Closures ensures all their products meet the highest quality standards using advanced technology to test the durability of each closure. This includes performing volumetric analysis and testing designs under different environmental and climatic conditions - including 70% humidity and temperature fluctuations between -18°C and 40°C - to ensure closures neither pop-up nor leak under stress.

With a quarter of alcohol consumed worldwide estimated to be illicit - subjecting businesses to unfair competition and lost revenue, and putting consumers at serious risk of poisoning or even death - Guala Closures also take fraud prevention seriously. Counterfeiting can take place either through a copy of the product packaging containing illegally produced alcohol entering the market, or through the fraudulent filling of a genuine empty bottle with lower quality alcoholic beverages. To tackle this Guala Closures offer a range of solutions, from simple closures with initial opening alert systems to complex non-fillable valves, in addition to connected closures that use Near Field Communication (a short-range wireless connection) and QR technologies to enable consumers to access the brand's multimedia content and verify the authenticity of the packaging through their smartphone, as well as providing brand owners with significant data about consumer behaviour.

Since publishing their first Sustainable Development Report in 2011, Guala Closures have completed two major programmes alongside launching a range of sustainable closures. Based on their four Eco-Design Guidelines - which take into account the entire life cycle of the closure - the Blossom™ range includes fully removable and disposable aluminium screw caps, a range of T-bar closures made with ocean plastics, and Bio Agave closures produced using materials obtained from leftover vegetable fibres from the production of Tequila. Launched earlier this year, “Sustainable Together 2030” is Guala Closures’ third programme and sets clear and ambitious corporate objectives across three primary areas - Environment, People and Governance - including a commitment to reducing Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 44% by 2030.

Every Guala Closures’ research and development centre - from Scotland, Italy and Bulgaria to Ukraine, China and Mexico - is located within the plant, allowing a close relationship between the design and production teams which, therefore, also speeds up the development process. Crucially each centre then shares their specialised knowledge and technological developments with the whole research and development structure, enabling the Group to offer the highest level of expertise, and widest range of closures, in every market worldwide.

Those seven research centres also give the Group a real and cultural proximity to their customers, enabling Guala Closures to understand, design and create the best closures for every brand in every market. Meaning that, with Guala Closures, producers get all the advantages of working with a world leader but with all the benefits of a local touch.

Guala Closures is the exclusive sponsor of the IWSC's Worldwide Whiskey Producer Trophy. Read about our most recent winner of this Trophy here.