Excelsior completes first stage of improvement programme

Packaging manufacturer and printer Excelsior Technologies has completed the first stage of an investment programme following its acquisition by an investment fund.

The Enact Fund of Endless bought the Nelson, Lancashire-based flexible packaging business for £1.5m in December 2014. Now it has invested a further £300,000 in the Nelson site, where Excelsior extrudes cast polypropylene film and makes pouches for fresh produce, ingredients and sauces, before transferring to its Deeside site for printing and finishing.

The improvement programme, led by operations director Paul Thomas, includes an upgrade of its two large cast Gloucester film extruders. At the same time the company has improved its working practices.

Chairman Keith Chapman said: “What we did was change the ways of working there, working to tighter procedures and specification and getting people to work flexibly in the plant. The staff knuckled down and made a lot of improvements.

“We saw ‘on time in full' delivery rates improve and quality levels improved a lot as well. We’re really pleased with the team.”

Chapman said the improvements to the machines, which cost £2.5m new, enabled more precision as parts of the machine measured film thickness which improved the manufacturing process. The factory is producing less scrap and higher outputs as well.

As a result the company’s printed packaging will be of higher quality, he added.

“This investment will help by having a good stable correct film to print on. The more precise the film, the better the overall quality of the pack.

“We aim to keep our clients happier but also to attract more business through very high quality products.”

The next area for improvement for the company is an investment in new pouching machines of around £700,000, although the final decision on this has not yet been made.

The company’s main target sectors are medical and large food brands, where demand continues to increase, Chapman said.

The company exports nearly 50% of its products to the US and the EU.