The economic news has been grim over the past week with turmoil in the Euro zone and US politicians playing chicken with the world’s biggest economy. To top it all off some pretty average UK economic figures were released yesterday. They could have been worse and we should be thankful that the economy is growing, even if it is at a snail’s pace. But sometimes there are reasons to be cheerful and there was one sign that packaging is a viable sector and one that’s on an upward curve.
Take the case of Belpac for example. The plastic packaging manufacturer has a new owner, Kevan Howley, who has set out an ambitious vision for a company that turns over around £2-5m a year – to push towards sales of £20m in the next three years. It’s a big ask but one, he believes, can be done through acquisitions.
But aside from Howley’s strategy there’s another interesting aspect to the story; his background isn’t in packaging (although he does have knowledge of manufacturing). Howley has invested in the business because he believes that packaging is an industry that has plenty going for it, a sector where there is potential for growth.
What helps, in his view, is that the market is fragmented presenting opportunities for acquisitions. Firms where owners are coming up for retirement are of particular interest. There’s also a theory that brands are looking to bring overseas packaging manufacturing back to the UK – it’s a powerful green argument, reducing carbon footprint as well as boosting the speed to market. And by working more closely with clients, packaging manufacturers have the potential gain more in the supply chain.
So the question is, are there any others out there keen to exploit potential growth? Are there entrepreneurs keen to make a name in a sector that thrives on innovation and invention? I hope so – pretty much any sector can benefit from a bit of fresh thinking and, if the strategy is right, then a business can flourish by doing things a bit differently from the norm.
Only time will tell if Belpac’s strategy will pay off (well, three years to be precise). But if someone from outside packaging can spot the potential of the sector then we should be encouraged. Perhaps the government could pay more attention to packaging manufacturing – could our sector play a bigger role in boosting the UK’s fragile growth? Now that would be good news.
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