'Walmart of packaging' invests £500,000 in manufacturing

Jez Abbott
Thursday, January 21, 2016

One of Scotland's fastest growing label makers and printers has bought a Mark Andy LP3000 to improve speed and print quality to further target premium brands.

Lothian Labels & Packaging spent about £250,000 on the eight-colour press with foiling that went into its base at Broxburn this month and runs alongside three six-colour KDO machines.

It forms part of a big expansion including new equipment, extended warehouse capacity and staff increases, worth £500,000 in total.

Lothian Labels, which was taken over by packaging company UPAC Group (UPAC) in 2014, has trebled turnover to £2m since the acquisition.

It has more than than doubled its headcount to 14 staff and more than trebled its warehouse space to 1,858sqm.

Sales director Billy Armitage said: “The speed of the new machine is fantastic, about 5,000m per hour, and the quality will hopefully help us target more premium brands.

“We are probably one of the fastest growing packaging and label groups in Scotland and are looking to double our turnover in 12 to 18 months.”

Group managing director Chris Kelly said: “We bought Lothian because UPAC was firmly a merchant while it was one of our suppliers with an excellent customer-service record.

“We didn't want to go into manufacturing; we are happy to be the Walmart of packaging, but this company presented a good opportunity because it is such a great name in the industry. It had no sales staff for 10 years, relying only on word of mouth.”

Kelly added: “We put in the new machine to keep pace with orders and have earmarked £1m for further machinery purchases, but have not yet decided on the type of kit.

“Managing growth is tricky: it's about putting the right machines in at the right time. Some of our customers were approaching us for products we don't yet manufacture.

“And there is nothing more frustrating than turning business away, but we have to get everything just right before we embark on new products.”

Operations director Kate Smith said: “When Lothian Labels was acquired by UPAC it was already well known for good customer service, so we had a solid foundation to grow from.

“For us, the key factors in growing the business are customer service, quality control and competitive pricing. If we get that right, I am confident everything else will fall into place.

“The investment plan we have for the next three years is all based around these principles and makes us a strong competitor in the current labelling market.”

UPAC Group, based in Rutherglen and the surrounding region, includes W&M Watsons Packaging, Kite Packaging Scotland, Merlin Healthcare Packaging and the Colour Carton Company as well as local firms.


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