Terry Cross' new company

Biopax invests £1.3m in onshoring paper wrap

The new paper wrap machine can produce 500 million units annually
The new paper wrap machine can produce 500 million units annually

Belfast sustainable packaging and label firm Biopax has bought a brand-new Holweg Weber rotary flexo press, capable of processing 500 million units of paper wrap per year.

The six-colour press, with added reverse coating unit, is expected to land at the company’s new £47m factory in early December.

Paper wrap products – commonly used in on-the-go deli and fast-food restaurants – have historically been imported from Asia and Europe to the UK and Ireland.

Biopax’s £1.3m investment, which covers the printer itself and associated winding, splicing and stacking kit, will see the company attack the import market.

Terry Cross, Biopax’s chairman, said: “Biopax promises to deliver a long-term solution to the plastic problem in the packaging sector, and by continually reinvesting in the best equipment we will be able to increase our capabilities and fast track the delivery of green packaging and allow the markets that we serve a more domestic product.”

Cross, the former Delta Print & Packaging boss, founded Biopax in 2021.

Kicking off production in 2022 with 16 employees, Biopax swiftly expanded to around 45 by August 2023, with frequent hires continuing well into November: the firm aims to employ 170 staff by 2027.

Since its formation, it has already spent £20m on Heidelberg kit alone, with significant investments also going into research and development for sustainable packaging materials, according to Cross.

Current avenues of research include exploring tamper-evident paper packaging for food delivery and pharmaceutical businesses, as well as PE-free paper cup materials.

He added that expansion plans to its 6,500sqm factory were well underway: “In addition to this commitment, we are poised to embark on a significant expansion of our Springvale Business Park site in West Belfast next year, doubling its size to further support the changing needs of our customers.”

Biopax sales and marketing director, Liam O’Connor, told Printweek that the company’s planning application was proceeding well and that the team had already gone to tender with contractors.

O’Connor was equally confident of the company’s performance. Last year – July 2022 to June 2023 – it brought in just under £4m in turnover, up from the £250,000 it took in the three months of trading the year before.

“Obviously we’re going to smash that this year,” he added, suggesting that turnover would more than double by June 2024.

The expanded site will give Biopax significantly more capacity, with new facilities for warehousing and dispatch.

Cross concluded by hinting that the company had plenty more spending power left in its growth strategy: “We will continue to invest, whatever it takes to support the evolving needs of both existing and future customers.”