A company, which provides transparent packaging to DIY, home fragrance, giftware and confectionary industries, has achieved major success in Europe, establishing its products in six new countries with help from UK Trade and Investment (UKTI).
Luton-based Bell Packaging, established over 30 years ago, was one of the first companies in the UK to produce transparent packaging for the Retail Sector. The company manufactures over 350 different sizes and shapes of packaging to companies including Masterfoods, John Lewis, Autoglym and Henkel.
Bell Packaging increased their focus on exporting 12 years ago. The decision was motivated by challenges it faced, as their UK customers closed factories and sourced cheaper products from abroad.
“The UK packaging market was shrinking, which led us to consider increasing our marketing focus beyond our front door and into overseas markets,” explains director, Peter Lennie.
“This began in France and as demand for our products grew, we targeted other countries including Holland, Belgium, Italy, Spain and Scandinavia. We achieved success in breaking into all of these markets and overseas sales now make up over forty percent of our business.”
Bell Packaging has worked closely with UKTI since it began considering overseas markets. Lennie added: “We’ve developed a close relationship with UKTI, who advised us from the start on approaching new markets.
“Our international trade adviser, Anton Rudgalvis, has been instrumental in guiding us along the way and making us aware of support and funding that is available from UKTI, when exploring new markets. It is not just marketing and financial support that we have received but also help from local embassies.”
For example last year a key supplier of Bell Packaging went into administration in Holland and the company had difficulty in contacting the supplier, leaving their business in a difficult situation. The British Embassy in Holland was able to rectify the situation for Bell Packaging by contacting the administrator, implementing a resolution and establishing a new supplier for the company.
Lennie said: “This would not have happened without the introduction and contacts provided by UKTI. The past three years for all manufacturers has been very challenging and it has been extremely reassuring to have Embassy support available in the countries where we trade.”
Bell Packaging is now looking to expand its reach into Eastern Europe and has recently commissioned overseas market research from UKTI for countries including Romania, Poland and Russia. In March the company also attended an event organised by UKTI called Export Europe, where Embassy Officials from 25 countries in Europe provided advice to East of England companies.
Lennie concluded: “Export Europe provided an excellent opportunity for us to gain useful business contacts and receive sound advice on breaking into Eastern Europe, which is our next goal. We’re hopeful that close working with UKTI will enable the company to succeed in its continued expansion of Europe.”
Anton Rudgalvis added: “There is a close working relationship between UKTI and Bell Packaging – a company I have been working with for over 10 years. I’m very proud of the great achievements this company has made in Europe. They have reaped the rewards from investing the necessary time and resource into their overseas activity. I look forward to working them in their new venture into Eastern Europe.”
• Photograph shows: Peter Lennie, director, Bell Packaging