Another £6 million is to be invested this year in new equipment and support systems at a Bradford packaging plant which has won significant new business.
This follows the £5.6 million spent by Weidenhammer Packaging Group in 2013 on new production lines, IT and management systems at its Buttershaw site, where the German family-owned business opened a new £10 million factory in 2011.
The Bradford operation – Weidenhammer UK, which has taken on four new staff and now has 68 permanent staff – is also recruiting its first eight apprentices from local schools and colleges.
Weidenhammer UK boosted sales by 11 per cent last year to £17 million, winning new clients as well as extra business from existing customers for its range of composite cans – including containers for Cadbury’s drinking chocolate – and export packs for Japanese International Tobacco.
A new production line has been installed to exclusively produce composite cans for the Mondolez division of US food giant Kraft, which incorporates the Cadbury brand. Weidenhammer will make large containers for Kenco and Maxwell House coffee. The site also manufactures tubes for Cadbury’s mini-eggs.
General manager Paul Barber said: “The Bradford operation continues to go from strength to strength. Since Weidenhammer bought part of the former Field Packaging business seven years ago we have seen turnover rise steadily from £450,000 to the current level and the workforce expand from 45 to 68.
“Weidenhammer UK started in 13th place out of the group’s 13 sites. Now we are up to fifth or sixth position and look forward to maintaining our growth, although achieving double-digit growth again will be tough.
“We are also very pleased to be taking on our first apprentices to provide jobs for local youngsters and train them in a trade. All our staff undergo continuing development, with 20 per cent of them undertaking NVQ qualifications. We want this firm to be a place that people never want to leave.”
Group chief executive Ralf Weidenhammer praised the Bradford site for achieving double-digit growth for the third consecutive year.
“The development of Weidenhammer UK is still very positive. Since it was founded in 2008, we have significantly expanded our customer base in the UK and are already at second place in the market for composite cans,” he said.
Mr Weidenhammer said Bradford was involved in development and production of peel-off-top cans which provide an airtight container for products such as coffee and milk powder.
“A specially developed peel-off-top can for roasted coffee grounds has also been successfully tested, and there are already several interested parties in the coffee market, he said.
The Weidenhammer Packaging Group, which is Europe’s leading supplier of composite cans, composite drums and plastic containers, increased overall sales revenues by around 2.5 per cent to £206.5 million from £201.6 million the previous year in spite of tough economic conditions.
“There was no guarantee of a positive balance. The market environment continues to be difficult, especially in Southern Europe. In addition, our retail customers are still under price pressure, and there are significant cost increases for personnel and energy.”