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Environmentally friendly and efficient production strategy


A Groupe Diffusion Plus project in collaboration with W+D

Groupe Diffusion Plus is an independent, family-run company headquartered in Normandy, France. It has been successfully providing communication services for its customers in the areas of transactional and direct mail for over 40 years.

The partnership with W+D has existed for more than three decades now — a total of fifteen inserting machines, including seven W+D BB700 S2 of the latest generation, operate reliably there. The aim of the joint project was to integrate envelope production into the service portfolio of the company. To this end, Groupe Diffusion Plus invested in a W+D 326 BC.

The picture above was taken at Hunkeler Innovationdays 2023 and shows employees from Groupe Diffusion Plus, Tagg Informatique and W+D.

This means that all necessary processes can come from a single source and both the company and its customers benefit from many logistical and production-related advantages:

  • Avoidance of uncertainty in the supply chain—a reliable supply of envelopes is assured
  • Just-in-time envelope production precisely adapted to demand
  • Maximum flexibility and minimum reaction time—the “time to mailbox” is reduced

Optimizing processes through complete in-house production doesn’t just bring advantages in terms of process security, efficiency, and time savings; it also contributes to sustainable production:

  • Reduction of the carbon footprint
  • Minimization of delivery routes and storage capacities
  • Avoidance of waste thanks to demand-oriented production—no surplus

Get an insight into the process here: watch the video about the project.

To facilitate this combination of efficient and sustainable processes, Groupe Diffusion Plus relied on the expertise of W+D, the market leader for envelope converting machines and technological leader for envelope printing and inserting machines. We are grateful for their trust in us and the forward-looking, exciting project.

Questions to Diffusion Plus CEO Loïc Lefebvre

Loïc Lefebvre in an interview about the cooperation between Groupe Diffusion Plus and W+D.

M. Lefebvre, please shortly describe your company.

Specialized in the processing of physical and digital customer communications, the Diffusion Plus Group has 900 employees spread over 9 subsidiaries. They are organized around 4 areas of activity:

  • production of documents (7 industrial sites for desktop publishing and direct marketing with the subsidiaries Diffusion Plus, Emissaires, Sofag, Regroup'Eure, Data One and DocOne),
  • digital services (with 3 specialized subsidiaries GOCAD Services, GDP.digital and EDEP Conseil)
  • dematerialization and
  • managed services.

Groupe Diffusion Plus has aggregated a turnover of 120 M € in 2021 and is positioned as the 1st independent operator on its market.

Proposing a leading industrial offer, Groupe Diffusion Plus responds to the challenges of economic performance of players in commercial and transactional communication. Since the 2000s, its service offer has been enriched on the digital side thanks to the development of technological platforms dedicated to the dematerialization of documents and the management of the experience. By combining industrial leadership and digital innovations, every day, the women and men of Groupe Diffusion Plus support companies in improving customer interactions and transforming business processes.

Please tell us something about you?

I have had the pleasure and honor to lead the position of Group Development Director for 16 years, member of the Management Committee, around our 2 shareholders, as well as the managers of the subsidiaries and the Group. My role is at the crossroads of the Sales Departments of the subsidiaries, Marketing and Communication (in particular for the activities of our transactional mail subsidiaries Data One and DocOne), but also partnerships and strategic projects (M&A), International and digital transformation/innovations for our group. I also have the presidency of 2 subsidiaries: DocOne and EDEP Conseil, our consulting agency in corporate, institutional, network and commercial communication. To carry out these missions, I am surrounded on a daily basis by the most beautiful and top team on the market: the #teamgdp!

Which changes of your company´s goals led you to invest in a W+D 326 all-round envelope converting system and two additional W+D BB700 inserting machines at a time?

For 37 years of existence, the Diffusion Plus Group, an independent French player, is known and recognized on the market for being a true pioneer in innovation and the launch of new solutions (physical machine and digital productions, even mixed), but also in new concepts and new approaches for its customers.

We can quote as concrete examples the launch, in 2002, of high-speed four-color inkjet printing at Data One (with SCITEX and KODAK at the time, HP today), the creation of the 1st massification center (sorting) physical management mail in France in 2004 (Regroup'Eure subsidiary) or even the creation of our subsidiary and "multi-channel marketing services" platform GOCAD Services in the mid-2000's also, very ahead of its time ...
The last decade has just seen the successive launches of innovations such as the latest generation "wrapping" (at SOFAG and Diffusion Plus, in partnership with our customer PLAYBAC), gradually replacing our polypropylene film wrapping machines, the creation of a subsidiary 100 % dedicated to the digital transformation of our customers (GDP.digital) or the launch of a new concept for the manufacture/production of digital newspapers on demand (very short runs and “OnDemand”) for “local” players who do not necessarily have access to this type of communication support.

With this new investment into three W+D machines, it is the values (objectives) of sustainable development/CSR and the “ultra-short” circuit that we put at the service of our customers.

Indeed, we wish to demonstrate that the "search for new areas of growth and development for our group", through major continuous investments, can also be synonymous with "new approaches" and "possible evolutions of ancestral working methods", to reduce our carbon footprint and the one of our customers …

During the last decades, which new technologies entered the market as ecological gamechangers?

By definition, our business and our sector (which consists of producing and sending hundreds of millions of letters each year to recipients) necessarily generates "inter-site" logistics, multiple transports, and therefore CO2 emissions and gases at greenhouse effect, various containers (cardboard boxes) and storage over several thousands of sqm in our factories.
In the early 2000s, with the advent of high-speed four-color digital printing technologies (inkjet in particular), the Diffusion Plus Group (via its subsidiary Data One) enabled its customers to start directly from white paper reels and thus print the "background" (page background models) and the "shape" (variable data) in a single pass ...: disruptive innovation long called "TRANS-PROMO" on the market. This innovation then made it possible to reduce a complete stage of logistics / transport (the one of the pre-printed printers in offset beforehand), the associated "passes / wastes" and the storage of residues, since we now print the "right and necessary" quantity of documents.
The positive impact for our planet, thanks to the reduction of CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as the use of more ecological inks, has been considerable. And today, no one would think of going back: investments in these new high-speed (and high-quality) digital inkjet printing technologies are still extremely strong on the market today.

A question then logically came up for our group: “What about the envelopes then? What could we imagine, do or test, to also reduce the carbon footprint of their production and use in the global chain?"

Why did you finally decide for the W+D solutions?

To tell you the truth, we have been thinking about making this investment for several years…; we already thought about it during DRUPA 2016! Indeed, our President & Founder William MERIEL has been convinced for many years that the ability to manufacture some of the envelopes (carriers or returns; today delivered to us), directly in our production/routing factories, is an important alternative to offer our customers and the market in general. But our dense news of the last 5 years and the priority given to many other development and investment projects, did not allow us to materialize this project immediately.
Thanks to the very good feedback from our partner TAGG Informatique (its CEO Hervé LESSEUR and his teams), who had decided to do it already some years ago, on his site in Albens in Savoie: we then decided to move on this year, for our Gaillon sites in Normandy ...

As a partner of the Diffusion Plus Group for more than 3 decades and a true leader in this field, the choice of W+D was a natural choice.

The proximity between our respective teams and the trust acquired over all these years (particularly MD inserting equipment, with seven 'BB700' machines acquired over the past 3 years), in order to build tailor-made, robust, reliable and adapted solutions to our context, were all elements that completed our conviction that W+D was, once again, the right partner for this project.

What are your economic advantages and savings, also environmentally, by implementing such a versatile envelope converting system as the W+D 326?

We are convinced that beyond the obvious growth drivers of business development for us (see complementarity with the potential four-color '1:1' digital printing of envelopes upstream before their manufacturing process), this will be accompanied by more flexibility and more responsiveness for our customers, a new approach of "manufacturing envelopes directly on site, on demand and in the right quantity, without the need for storage, since the envelopes concerned would be produced immediately afterwards".
Ultimately, an equally significant reduction in containers (packaging, boxes, etc.), logistics and truck transport, thus savings in emissions of thousands of tons of CO2 each year at stake: a deeply CSR-oriented approach. We thus offer our customers an end-to-end solution for some of their eligible mailings, which goes in the direction of protecting and preserving our planet even more.

Which influence does the new production workflow have on your future business? Have you already developed further business plans?

As with digital inkjet printing in the early 2000s, still complementary to offset printing for printers, we want to provide our customers with a new way of thinking about the manufacture of part of their envelopes: potentially even personalized in "1:1", in an ultra-short circuit, with maximum flexibility and reactivity, without transport or storage, thus significantly reducing the carbon footprint of this process.

Of the billion envelopes that pass through our factories every year, we estimate that if we manage to manufacture even 10% of them (which would still make 100 million units…) on our new machine, that will be already a great success for this “small” diversification of Groupe Diffusion Plus. No need to say that we are not ready to stop our collaboration and our other orders with our historical partners who manufacture envelopes... Most of them even welcome this significant investment by Groupe Diffusion Plus as good news for the Sector and this profession, because it legitimizes and further consolidates this activity on the market. “Co-construction” projects between them and us are even currently under discussions …

Which are the general advantages of W+D systems, the support by W+D, …?

When you decide to launch new activities (and new products), to complete your portfolio of global solutions for your customers, it is essential to do so with partners who are experts in the fields concerned. Because the learning curve can sometimes be long and fastidious, we are talking here about investments of several million euros, which must ultimately be profitable at a minimum, and our teams are not necessarily always seasoned with this new technology. The technicality of these new machines is advanced, and these are new skills, expertise and know-how that we must acquire, develop and sublimate within our organization.

W+D is definitely the right partner to support us in this new project and we would like to thank them once again for their presence, their ability to listen to us and their total support by our side: this is a major key success factor for us and our clients. The adventure goes on…