Fencor praises staff as it invests for growth


Fencor Packaging Group has thanked its staff for embracing the “Dunkirk spirit” during lockdown, helping it weather the Covid storm as it rounds off a two-year, £4m spend.

Group managing director David Orr (left) with Tony Clifton, group sales director in front of the Vega Altair
Group managing director David Orr (left) with Tony Clifton, group sales director in front of the Vega Altair

The £19m turnover East Anglian group, which employs 140 staff, operates two businesses: retail specialist Easypack/POP Displays Group, which has a production site in Mildenhall and a packing and fulfilment operation in Wisbech, and corrugated box specialist Manor Packaging in Whittlesey.

According to group managing director David Orr, the Manor Packaging business has been the backbone of the group’s coronavirus fightback, with some areas actually beating pre-lockdown targets.

“We had certain clients that weathered the storm quite well and actually increased what they were doing,” he said.

The group’s clients include hospital and supermarket suppliers, many of which increased activity during lockdown, which combined with a surge in demand from online retailers and pivoting brick and mortar retailers helped the group beat some of its forecasts.

While the firm has used the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme “very sparingly”, with the final furloughed team member set to return next month, Orr said that key to the group's successfully navigating the business impact of pandemic had been how the staff, across the entire group, had stepped up.

“We engaged with all the staff early on and that was key to working through it all, getting all the shift patterns safe, getting everyone onboard, and getting everyone positive. I think that engagement with the workforce and getting the strategy right before it [the lockdown] happened really, that was the catalyst for us getting through in fine fettle,” he said.

Orr explained that he spoke to the team in March and “declared that we aim to emerge from this crisis intact as a team, with no job losses and no financial distress to any of our employees, however long it takes.”

He described the teams’ response as “magnificent”.

“They know that our customers are relying on them and they have shown exceptional adaptability and resilience.

“Some customers have become very busy and, in periods of peak demand, we have had managers running machines and teams working through bank holidays. We have stuck together and this Dunkirk spirit has made all the difference”.

Just prior to lockdown, Fencor installed a new four-colour Bobst Flexo Folder Gluer 8.20 Discovery boxmaking line with rotary die-cut unit at 73-staff Manor Packaging, which followed a Vega Altair 240GL multipoint gluer installed last year to cater the e-commerce market. The group is also set to invest additional gluing and taping capabilities to support e-commerce packaging growth.

The business also commissioned an Elitron Kombo TAV-R 32.22 R2 fully automatic 3.2x2.2m cutting table for its 46-staff Mildenhall POS site at the end of June.

“This investment will significantly improve our conversion capabilities and allow us to become even more responsive,” said Orr.

As well as owning Easypack/POP and Manor, Fencor is one of a consortium of shareholders in its key corrugated sheet supplier, Corrboard.

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