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Glossop Cartons is one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of carton board packaging products. Paul Andrews met the sisters behind this successful family firm to find out more. As one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of carton board packaging products, Glossop Cartons’ innovation, quality, service and investment in the latest technology has seen it grow from a humble start-up in 1982 to a thriving industry leader holding a strong customer base of leading household names.

They recognise that service and flexibility are the essential pre-requisites in meeting the requirements of major multiple retailers, and as such, they have continuously invested in systems and processes that benefit their customer needs, such as quick lead times and the ability for their packaging to stand out from the crowd.

Glossop Cartons differentiates in its industry by being very customer-focused, trying to understand the issues its customers face and coming up with effective packaging solutions to resolve those issues.

Joint Managing Director, Jacky Sidebottom-Every has been involved with the business since it was established by her father back in 1982 along with Jacky’s then boyfriend, now husband Brian and one of her sisters, Jill. Fourteen months after the business was started her father died suddenly and they were very much thrown in at the deep end. Jacky’s other sister, Vicky was still at school at the time is Marketing and Commercial Manager for the business.

As she explains, “It was a difficult time for us as Dad passed away unexpectedly and the business had not been going very long at all. We had some difficult decisions to make, not least Mum possibly having to leave the family home as it had been the security for the bank and we had to work fast. Friends introduced us to a manager at Barclays and that was essentially the starting point for our future. We had monthly meetings and he was a real asset to the business – a mentor to me as well as helping us to get to grips with actually running a business and helping us through those tricky times.”

At the start they made some big decisions, not least the move into new premises with just £10,000 of working capital and learning as they went. “It was certainly not easy as the new building was old, cold and damp and the money was soon spent on introducing three phase electrical supply in order to run the machines and heat the business,” adds Jacky.

However, like many successful family firms this was a family that was driven to succeed and were building something as a legacy to the father that had created it, looking to make it a success and continuing to invest in learning and development to ensure that not only could they compete commercially but offer clear solutions to customers in what is an incredibly competitive sector.

As a family business the years have come and gone, some better than others, but as a business industry knowledge has continued to grow and they have continually invested in new technology to increase productivity. They have also become more ambitious as the years passed and in 2010 undertook their first acquisition which was an asset, goodwill and sales ledger purchase from the administrator, of another packaging company.

This was followed in November 2015 by purchasing another business which this time included the purchase of the other companies’ buildings and retention of most staff which resulted in two businesses with different histories and cultures coming together.

As Vicky explains, “Bringing together two businesses in terms of people and culture is a challenge but over time the workforce has become one and we now working to a set of core values and solid family foundations too which is certainly helping.”

Glossop Cartons have grown to become a business that succeeds based on quality, service and value, responding to customer needs in an ever changing economic and ecological environment, not to mention the prevailing air of economic uncertainty, and providing real packaging solutions is what they do best. Award recognition is testament to their success too, winning major awards for packaging solutions that are world class and in part due to their investment in new, innovative equipment that enables bespoke packaging and cartons to be manufactured with intricate designs, cutting and folding too.

Many of us live in a world surrounded by cartons and packaging on a daily basis but few of us will ever appreciate the time, effort and detail that goes into creating a carton unless they experience the opportunity to visit a carton manufacturer. It is a truly precise business with state-of-the-art equipment and machinery involved, folding and gluing cartons that can then be stored flat and transported on pallets to customers to pack as required. The family are involved too, making sure that they are visible to staff and customers alike, something that Jacky truly believes sets them apart from the competition.

“We are a family business and do like to develop the “right” relationships with our clients and in many cases our customers want access to senior management, this helps with trust and some of our customers are also family owned, there is a real understanding of the importance of family values, a strong bond and being able to have clear lines of communication too,” adds Jacky. “And it is by bringing these family values, principles and morals to work that has enabled us to grow the business.”

“Honesty, integrity and a desire to do the right thing are key, and we need our customers to trust us to deliver each and every time too,” she adds.

As with all businesses there are some challenges and one of the biggest challenges for Glossop Cartons is attracting and retaining the staff they need. As Jacky continues, “It is a challenge to find the right skills that we need and our industry is compromised because skills have not been replaced over time, commitment and the need to want a long-term career is less common these days and people move on more frequently,” she adds. “We have five vacancies currently and it takes a lot of time and investment to search and find suitable applicants and then to induct and train them when they start too,” she continues.

Being involved with the local community is important and the team regularly visit schools and colleges to talk about the business and the sector as a whole, highlighting some of the opportunities that are available to the next generation and hopefully creating interest in businesses like theirs too. “It is important to take the time out to talk about the packaging sector,” explains Jacky, “and the opportunities that it offers too. Community is important to us as a business and we like to be involved.”

Jacky is on the board of the British Printing Industries Federation, and their schools initiative supports the BPIF’s goal of promoting careers in the sector. ”We believe educational partnerships are a great way of supporting our local community, keeping youngsters fully informed on all the opportunities available to them as they make their next steps after leaving school. Deciding on a career path can be a difficult task and we need to do our bit to help with the process too.”

The family firm has been on a journey since those early days and despite the early hurdles has succeeded where many others have failed, the family ethos, strength and desire to succeed had created a great business that is now leading the way, a business that their father would surely be incredibly proud of. As Jacky concludes, “we have never taken major risks and our decisions are measured and well thought through, but this, together with our solid family footing has created a platform for us to grow. We have come a long way and the journey continues but we are still fresh and innovative, forward thinking, continually investing and looking at the future path and development that packaging needs and relishing the journey that lies ahead, whatever that bring in the way of new machines or further acquisitions.”

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