Tailor made: Labrenta profile

IWSC news

Tue 12 Jul 2022

By Lucy Shaw

We buy with our eyes and it’s no longer enough for drinks makers to rely on the quality of the liquid inside the bottle to sell their product. In our visually led age of Instagram and TikTok, how the product is packaged, from the bottle to the stopper, is a hugely important part of its appeal. This is particularly true of spirits brands fighting it out on a busy back bar. Those seeking something special from their stoppers to help elevate their brands in an increasingly crowded drinks market should look to Italian closures company Labrenta, which has over 50 years of experience in luxury closure production. Founded in Breganze in 1971 by Enzo Tagliapietra, Labrenta initially produced natural cork for the Italian wine market, but has since expanded to launch product lines of natural and synthetic closures, with 30 patents and a presence in 70 international markets. The firm has created closures for everyone from folk legend Bob Dylan and his Heaven’s Door Bourbon brand to Hollywood icon Dan Aykroyd’s Crystal Head vodka. While spirits is the firm’s main focus, it also produces closures for wine, beer, olive oil and vinegar.

Aware of the significance attached to opening a special bottle, and the memories it might help to create, when it comes to crafting closures, attention to detail is paramount for Labrenta. Fusing form and functionality, the company specialises in tailor made closures with a high level of craftsmanship. Using the latest cutting-edge tech, from flocking, debossing, protofusion, dip print, engraving and embroidery, Labrenta seeks to create closures that play a starring role in bottle design, rather than a supporting act. Take the stopper sealing Italian citrus liqueur Italicus, for example, which features an intricate embossed depiction of an angel inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. Labrenta understands the power of high quality closures to not only keep the liquid in pristine condition, but also to tell the story of the brand.

It’s been a busy year for the family-run company. In April the firm acquired Portuguese cork maker Anacorks as part of its international expansion plan. Labrenta’s CEO, Gianni Tagliapietra, described the move as a “strategic acquisition” as the global thirst for cork stoppers grows. “We started working with cork 51 years ago, but today we consider it an extremely current and sustainable material. We think that the current trend will lead natural cork to be increasingly appreciated and used in the spirits sector for premium products,” he said.

Amerigo Tagliapietra (VP, Global Business Development), revealed that the purchase of Anacorks will give Labrenta more control over its supply chain. “100% of our closures are produced at our factory in Breganze and the customisation process takes place there. The acquisition of Anacorks will help to give us complete control over the supply chain in order to give a better guarantee to our customers,” he says, adding, “Sustainability is at the heart of what we do and cork is one of the most sustainable materials on the planet. The spirits industry is increasingly looking to cork for its closures and we’ve seen a rise in demand for our products from Scotland, Ireland, the US and India. Cork is connected to tradition and our customers like maintaining the link.”

With over 180 employees working across production sites in Italy, Brazil and Mexico, Labrenta doubled its turnover last year to €20 million off the back of strong growth in its key markets, which include the UK, US, Mexico and central Europe. The firm is enjoying an equally successful 2022 and forecasts its turnover to reach €30m by the end of the year. Since opening a US office in New Jersey at the end of 2020, sales in America have increased by 128%. “Thanks to Labrenta’s presence in the States, we will have the chance to develop other markets and weave together new and stimulating relationships,” Amerigo says. “We’re expanding our sales network to be able to grow our business in new markets. We’re currently looking at India and China, and have been investing time in those markets to gain a better understanding of their potential.”

The acquisition of Anacorks is in line with the Labrenta Green Deal 2030 – a strategic road map for a more eco-conscious way of doing business across the supply chain, through which the firm is striving to choose production sites closer to its customers to reduce its carbon footprint, while also working with sustainable materials and decreasing its use of plastic. Last year the firm reduced its plastic use by 18% through the incorporation of low-impact products, cutting its carbon emissions by 10% as a result.

In July Labrenta was acquired by stopper giant Guala Closures, which is hungry for a bigger slice of the fast-growing luxury closures sector. Guala’s CEO, Gabriele Del Torchio, described Labrenta as “an innovative company with a strong local presence and a long-term strategic vision”. Under its new owners, Labrenta’s headquarters in Breganze will become an important R&D hub. “Passion for design and technology, production quality and sustainability are among Labrenta’s core values,” says Gianni. “We have found in Guala Closures a group of like-minded people that share our values, as well as a global leader in the sector that will allow Labrenta to keep pursuing high growth in a well-structured manner.”

Having achieved FSC certification in 2018, Labrenta is seeking to lower its carbon footprint further through a collaboration with Mixcycling – a dynamic startup that develops sustainable materials by blending vegetable fibres with bioplastics from renewable sources – to produce closures made from a variety of materials, including grape waste, bamboo, risk husks and even old jeans. “Working with Mixcycling allows us to produce closures with less plastic that have less of an impact on the environment,” says Amerigo. “The team is constantly developing innovative new materials, so we can take advantage of new solutions in the future.”

Labrenta is the exclusive sponsor of the IWSC’s Worldwide Whiskey Producer Trophy – visit their website to find out more about what they do.