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Case study

Faerch Plast

Faerch Plast are a Danish owned company which specialise in packaging solutions for ready meals, fresh meat, cold foods and snacks. Here we provide an insight into their Design & Innovation Hub based in Cambridgeshire.


Food and drink packaging

  • The UK packaging industry is a large and developed sector with annual sales of £10.9 billion.
  • Of this, £7.1 billion accounts for food and drink sales.
  • There are 85,000 jobs in the packaging sector, representing 3% of UK manufacturing employment.

Modern packaging demands

Packaging has evolved a great deal since the days of storing food in barrels.   Thermoformed packaging is a great way to protect food, but what exactly is it?

Thermoforming is a heat based process used to produce plastic packaging.  It’s really popular in the food supply chain which demands the use of materials resistant to the passage of odours, moisture and gases.   

In the beginning…

Before being acquired by Faerch Plast in 2015, Cambridgeshire based  family owned firm Anson Packaging dominated the UK market as manufacturers of thermoformed niche food packaging.  With 40 years in the industry the company was known for outstanding design and innovation and was an extremely attractive investment for Danish firm Faerch Plast.

Anson Packaging chairman Mark Dujardin, whose family founded the business, said at the time of purchase in 2015: “The combination of Anson and Faerch will create exceptional opportunities to better serve our customers through an unrivalled product range, design capability and manufacturing excellence.” 

So, who are Faerch Plast?

Jorgen Faerch started the company in 1969 in Hostelbro, Denmark.   Today, well over 1000 employees are part of the Faerch Plast Group. The employees are spread across 6 manufacturing sites in Denmark, the UK, the Czech Republic and Spain as well as multiple sales offices covering all of Europe.

Anson Packaging was soon to receive a massive investment from their new parent company to boost their efficiency up to Færch Plast’s level, and this three year investment plan would raise some issues around the company’s location. 

Anson Packaging’s existing HQ in Haddenham, Cambridgeshire was simply not large enough to allow for the necessary expansion.  Attention was turned to another site they owned in nearby Sutton which, at the time, was being used for storage and additional manufacturing.

Dilemma!

With the lease on their existing site up for renewal, the company did not want to relocate so an innovative solution was required.  Enterprise East Cambridgeshire worked with the company’s Project Manager to highlight to the new Danish owners the benefits of basing their UK headquarters in the Cambridgeshire area.  Faerch Plast at this point owned several UK sites which could have housed their main UK base and so we worked with the Haddenham team during these negotiations.

Shell of Faerch Plast’s Design & Innovation Hub prior to building works completed by Clive Graham Associates.

Larger manufacturing and R&D facilities were high on the wish list, and we worked in collaboration with the team to identify a site with great potential on the Elean Business Park in Sutton, Ely.  The building, which had been empty for two years, then underwent an extensive refurbishment which was carried out by Clive Graham Associates, and the company invested £12 million in new equipment.  The end result is a stunning, state of the art complex which houses Faerch Plast’s brand new UK Headquarters and Design Innovation Hub.

Revenues and EBITDAs double for the group

The Swedish private equity group EQT VI acquired Færch Plast in 2014 with the ambition to drive continued organic growth across Europe, increase profitability through product optimization and explore M&A opportunities to gain immediate scale. During the ownership of EQT VI, Færch Plast successfully executed on these targets through:

  • Strong continued organic growth through launches of new and innovative products
  • Significant investments in the production platform, footprint optimization and sales force expansion
  • Completion of two highly value accretive add-on acquisitions, and extracted significant cost and revenue synergies through implementation of best-practice production standards, an increased product offering and cross-selling
  • Doubling the number of employees

As a result of the value creation initiatives driven under EQT VI’s ownership, Færch Plast approximately doubled both revenue and EBITDA s. 

Faerch Plast’s Design & Innovation Hub

MP Lucy Frazer meets MD of Faerch Plast, Andrew Osborne-Smith at a visit arranged by Enterprise East Cambridgeshire

The company welcomed MP Lucy Frazer and members of East Cambridgeshire District Council for a tour in 2017.  During the visit the firm’s commitment to waste reduction and environmental programmes was also of special interest.

Managing Director Andrew Osborne-Smith said, at the time, “Following the successful opening of our new Design Innovation Hub at Lancaster Way Business Park, Ely, on Friday 13th October, we welcomed South East Cambs Member of Parliament, Lucy Frazer to our facility.   It was a fantastic opportunity to showcase our continued investment into the region and we valued the opportunity of discussing our current position and future developments.   We were very grateful that Lucy Frazer was able visit us”. 

The opening of the new facilities draws existing employees from within the region and creates new skilled job opportunities driven by the company’s impressive growth ambitions.  In 2017 Q3 Faerch Plast was sold to Advent International for an undisclosed sum, and the company continues to build upon its strong foundations.

Visit to Faerch Plast in Cambridgeshire UK

Sources

  • invest.great.gov.uk/in/industries/food-and-drink-manufacturing/
  • eqtpartners.com/news/Press-Releases/2017/eqt-vi-to-sell-farch-plast-to-advent-international/
  • faerchplast.com/en/about
  • clivegraham.com/2017/05/lancaster-way-business-park-ely/
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