Kurz celebrates 50 years in Australia

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Kurz Australia is celebrating half a century of operation and hosted a series of staff events at locations around the country to mark the momentous occasion.

Celebrating: Kurz marks 50 years in Australia with multiple events
Celebrating: Kurz marks 50 years in Australia with multiple events

The world's biggest embellishing supplies business – still owned and managed by the family of the founder – opened its first direct subsidiary outside Europe here in Australia, in July 1970.

Stephen Pratt, managing director of Kurz Australia, says, “In this Covid-19 world we opted to have simultaneous luncheon events in Adelaide, Auckland, Melbourne and Sydney. At 4pm we all joined via Skype, along with Walter Kurz, Markus Hoffmann [senior board member of Kurz Group] and Harald Stubenrauch manager of Export for the formal speeches.”

With its beginnings in the 1890s, Leonhard Kurz Stiftung & Company, or Kurz, as it is commonly known, is an integral part of the print and packaging industry. It is estimated that every day some five billion people around the world handle products that have Kurz foils on them, from magazines, greetings cards, confectionery, and cosmetics, through to food packaging, and of course, beverage labels.

The company’s global turnover continues to rise and is now $1bn. Its staff numbers reflect a growing business. Six years ago, when current Australia CEO Stephen Pratt joined the business, there were 4000 people on the Kurz payroll and today there are 5800.

Kurz entered Australia 50 years ago this month. In the half-century since, the business has firmly established itself as the key player in the market. Stephen Pratt says Australian print businesses appreciate the knowledge, innovation and commitment of Kurz. “Our customers are not just buying foil, they are buying expertise, support and quality,” he says. “The Kurz business is not just selling foil, we are not a trading house. Our business is about ensuring our customers achieve the result they want every time, and we do that through our whole service offering.”

Its first managing director in Australia was Geoff Johnstone. In fact, he went to Kurz with the business plan, the Kurz family liked what they saw, and Johnstone was hired to establish the business here.

With the Australian model used as a blueprint, the company has since established 23 subsidiaries around the world.

Australia itself has been the place of many Kurz innovations. The Ever Ready Label business in Griffith was pioneering silver foil on wine labels when the company had a visit from Count Cinzano, who saw it, and on his return to Europe insisted silver foil to be on all Cinzano labels from then on. The foil Kurz developed for the polymer Australian banknotes is now used in the banknotes of more than 100 countries around the world, including in euro notes.

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