Innovia Films is a British international manufacturer and supplier of biaxially-oriented polypropylene (BOPP) and cellulose films for speciality packaging, labelling, graphic arts and industrial products. It was once known as UCB Films.
Headquartered in Wigton, Cumbria, the company is exclusively focused on high quality speciality films, including biaxially oriented polypropylene (BOPP), used in many wrapping applications. Total annual film capacity currently stands at more than 120,000 tonnes.
In 1926, Société Industrielle de la Cellophane (SIDAC) was founded with a factory in Ghent, Belgium. Six years later SIDAC formed a company in the UK to distribute its Ghent-produced film. This later became British Sidac Ltd, which opened its first production plant at St Helens in 1934. Also in 1934, British New Wrap Co Ltd was formed in Wigton, and production of cellulose film began at the site which had previously been set up to produce Rayon. In 1935, Courtaulds and La Cellophane SA joined forces to produce and sell Cellophane in the UK. This new venture, British Cellophane Ltd (BCL) began production at a major new plant in Bridgwater, Somerset in 1937. In 1942, La Cellophane Espanola was founded in Burgos, Spain
In 1961 ICI developed Biaxially Oriented Polypropylene, which, because of its clarity, gloss, sparkle, crispness and grease resistance, resembled cellulose film rather than polyethylene to which it is chemically related. In 1963 British Rayophane and British Sidac merged under the British Sidac name and, four years later entered into a joint venture with ICI to manufacture BOPP on the Wigton site. A new £3m factory was built to be operated by this new company called Sidex Ltd. In 1973 British Sidac became a wholly owned subsidiary of the UCB Group of Belgium. In 1982, the British Sidac plant at St Helens was closed and in 1987, UCB Films acquired La Cellophane Espanola.
In 1987 the BOPP production partnership with ICI ended, and UCB Films assumed full ownership of Sidex Ltd. There followed a period of investment in the Wigton plant, raising capacity from 10,000 to 35,000 tonnes pa. In the 1990s, around €135m was invested in the plant, including a second £10m coater plant in 1997, while a third was added in 2001 with a new bubble line to bring capacity to 15,000 tonnes per annum. In 1996, UCB Films acquired British Cellophane Ltd and the trade name Cellophane. In 1997, UCB Films bought the ICI Propafilm business in Ghent, and it also bought the Tecumseh and Kansas plant from US cellulose film producer Flexel Inc, in order to become one of the world's largest producers of cellulose film. In 2000 it bought the Mexican company Cydsa, closing its plant in Burgos.
In February 2013, the company bought the 50% share of Securency International it didn't already own from the Reserve Bank of Australia using cash reserves. Securency and Note Printing Australia had faced a scandal involving bribery of officials to win currency printing contracts.
Innovia Films Ltd
As the market for cellulose films was contracting due to substitution by oil based polymers, Innovia decided to close one of its plants to reduce costs and improve efficiency. As a consequence, the Bridgwater factory closed in the summer of 2005.
The current production sites are located in:
- UK – Wigton, plus Global Head Office
- Australia – Melbourne
- Belgium – Merelbeke
- USA – Tecumseh, Kansas
- "Innovia Films acquires Securency International from Reserve Bank of Australia". Innovia Films Ltd. 12 February 2013. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
- "Securency international: Australian authorities charge central bank subsidiaries for corruption". Norton Rose Fulbright. July 2011. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
- Evans, Roger, (1995). "Bridgwater with and without the 'e' " . Bridgwater: R. Evans. ISBN 0-9525674-0-7
- Lawrence, J.F., (2005). A History of Bridgwater. Chichester: Phillimore & Co Ltd. ISBN 1-86077-363-X
- Ward-Jackson, C.H., (1977). The "Cellophane" Story: Origins of a British Industrial Group. Edinburgh: Privately Printed.