Premier Paper named among 1,000 SMEs 'to inspire Europe'

By Rhys Handley, Monday 22 October 2018

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Premier Paper Group is among 1,000 European SMEs deemed to be “inspirational” for businesses across the continent in a new report from the London Stock Exchange (LSE).

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Jones: "These are challenging times in challenging markets, so it is good to be recognised as doing well"

In 1,000 Companies to Inspire Europe, the LSE selected 1,000 small and medium-sized businesses it considered “the most dynamic and fastest-growing, high-growth potential firms”. Across the selection, the LSE found firms had an average 24% three-year growth rate.

With the report now in its third year, manufacturing made up the majority of the selection, comprising 163 of the firms included, and UK companies were the second-most prevalent with 160 represented behind Germany’s 180. In total, the 1,000 firms employ around 325,800 people and hold 3,727 registered trademarks between them.

LSE chief executive Mikhil Rathi marked the launch of the report by calling for new policy that would give SMEs access to capital needed to grow and develop their job provision, so they can develop into “the global corporations of tomorrow”.

He said: “There is a vast amount of patient capital, like equity, available throughout Europe but, for growing companies there are too many barriers to access it.

“We must recalibrate away from this fiscal bias and unleash the power of long-term patient capital. This includes capital markets, crowdfunding and peer-to-peer platforms. Because if the growth potential of SMEs is clear, the potential of patient capital is even clearer.

“For these reasons, we must build an economic model that supports the companies of tomorrow, which in turn provides jobs and supports economic growth. New companies and new jobs require new ideas. Healthy companies support the wider economy and society, and good politics follows good economics.”

Birmingham-headquartered paper supplier Premier Paper is among 102 companies collated in the “wholesale” sector. Spanning 18 UK sites with 480 staff – which has grown from 450 in the past 12 months – the group reported a turnover of £223m for 2017.

An application process was not required to appear among the 1,000 companies and marketing director Dave Jones said the first the group knew about the report was on receipt of a letter confirming its inclusion.

“We were surprised and delighted to be named in a report that spans various sectors across Europe,” he said. “These are challenging times in challenging markets, so it is good to be recognised as doing well within your sector.

“I think for us it is probably down to our continued growth and performance, which has been very positive year-on-year. We invest in areas we think will bring return, but we always keep one eye on costs, so they remain under control, too.”

Premier is also bracing for a changed situation in regard to its relationship with Europe – as Jones said around 80% of its suppliers are based in the EU and Scandinavia. Contingency plans in place include the expansion of its branches so there is more space for stockpiling to offset any supply delays at the UK/EU border after Brexit.

Its recent focus has been on environmental initiatives, inviting 150 customers and staff to plant tree saplings in Heartwood Forest, St Albans, last year as part of a Carbon Capture scheme to replace trees used up by Premier’s production process.

This has continued through 2018 with plantings in Bovey Valley, Dartmoor, and Langley Vale, Epsom, as well as a further planned event in the north of England before the end of the year. The group also donated £600,000 to the Woodland Trust.

Across 2018, Premier Paper has been focusing on exploring the possibilities of new substrates for small-format digital machines – which included the release of a metallics range – and the development of its point-of-sale offering which led to the establishment of a new display team of “experienced individuals”.

Though UK print companies were largely unrepresented in the list, office design firm Oktra was highlighted, shortly after completing work on the new Photobox Group headquarters, which was unveiled at former Daily Mirror printworks in London earlier this year.

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