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GWP celebrates 30 years in business with optimism after pandemic

Matt Dobson: Last Updated 16th February 2024
Posted In: Company News | Industry News xx 31179

Happy Birthday to Us!

GWP celebrates 30th Birthday with renewed optimism following pandemic

GWP Group are celebrating a major milestone – having been trading for 30 years in August 2020.

Whilst the celebrations have been somewhat curtailed by the Coronavirus pandemic, they come amid renewed optimism after an upturn in sales following lockdown restrictions easing.

And following significant investment in equipment and people over the last few years, as well as the acquisition of a number of major new customers, the business is well placed for a prosperous future.

GWP Group celebrate 30 years in business
GWP Group - formerly known as Great Western Packaging - are celebrating 30 years in business

A brief history: GWP through the years

The business originally began trading out of Cheney Manor, Swindon, as the Great Western Packaging Co in August 1990. To put this in context, this is the same year that Tim Berners Lee published the very first page on the new fangled internet!

Starting with just over 5,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing space, and a handful of employees, the business quickly established itself in the local economy.

Early significant customers included Raychem, Motorola and Book Club associates, the latter of which saw GWP create their first bespoke packaging manufacturing equipment.

Great Western Packaging
The first GWP manufacturing plant, at Cheney Manor in Swindon.

In 1995 a new logistics site was opened, with another site added in Newbury in 1998 (although this eventually closed in 2006), as the business continued to grow.

The business also saw significant growth in the early 2000s, with Eastman Packaging (now GWP Protective) and Corstat (GWP Conductive) becoming part of the business in 2004 and 2006 respectively.

2009 also saw the current branding introduced, with the name changed to GWP Group in order to better reflect the diverse nature of the packaging offered by the company.

GWP Group CEO meets HRH Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, in 2011
GWP Group CEO meets HRH Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, in 2011

A number of other highlights over the years include a Royal Visit from Prince Edward in 2011, featuring on BBC coverage of the budget in 2013, and art exhibition created entirely from cardboard to celebrate 25 years in business, and winning a host of Starpack Awards (the most recent in 2018).

Today, GWP operates from 2 sites in Wiltshire covering over 100,000 sq. ft. and employs more than 100 people.

Facing the pandemic

Whilst 30 years in business would under normal circumstances be cause to throw a party or hold a special event for staff and customers, the coronavirus pandemic has meant a different focus.

Having traded through a number of recessions over the past 3 decades, the 2020 lock-down posed a number of different challenges to those faced previously.

Ruth Cook, Managing Director of GWP Group, said;

We have remained operational throughout the pandemic, supporting a number of critical businesses that supply directly into the NHS as well as those that are part of supply chains for food, medical and pharmaceutical industries.

Ruth added;

Whilst this meant that we saw a real contrast in the fortunes of companies we work with – with some temporarily ceasing to trade and others struggling to cope with increased demand – what we are now seeing is a marked increase in demand for packaging across almost our entire customer base.

After moving to new premises in Cricklade in 2003 and having continued to grow ever since, another challenge posed by the pandemic was the safety of staff.

Ruth commented;

Staff safety has been our main priority throughout. Over a fifth of our employees have been with us for more than 15 years – including a number from when we first started trading – and their dedication and hard work has seen us through this difficult period. I’d like to thank all of them for efforts, they make the company what it is today.

Looking to the future

Looking beyond the pandemic and having invested extensively in manufacturing equipment and increased storage space over the last 3 years (to allow for a leading just in time delivery service), the business sees a number of opportunities over the coming years.

Growth in ecommerce packaging
The lock-down in the UK has accelerated the growth in ecommerce sales - and therefore packaging

This includes the accelerated growth of ecommerce packaging and subscription based business models, all of which require environmentally friendly yet courier proof packaging.

Ruth added;

Although we have been able to become involved in a number of new areas during this period – such as helping to manufacture visors for health workers and safety screens for protecting staff – the growth in ecommerce packaging has been particularly significant.

The lockdown appears to have further accelerated the move towards online sales we have observed over previous years, which is now more pronounced in terms of both existing customers adapting and new enquiries coming into the business.

The investments in manufacturing equipment and getting a dedicated team of skilled staff in place means that as a business, GWP are perfectly placed to adapt to the new opportunities likely to be presented over the coming years.

A big thank you

Of course, reaching the landmark 30 years in business couldn’t have been achieved without the support of all of our customers, staff, suppliers and friends over the past 3 decades.

Although we couldn’t have expected to be celebrating reaching 30 years in the current circumstances, as a business we are extremely grateful to our staff, customers, suppliers and everyone involved with the business. They have not only helped us through this difficult period, but have set us up for many more years of growth and successful trading too.

From everyone here at GWP, we would like to thank you for your ongoing support, and look forward to what the future holds.

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About the Author

Matt Dobson, GWP Group Marketing Manager

Matt Dobson

Marketing Manager | GWP Group

Matt has worked in the packaging industry for approximately 9 years, having joined GWP Group as Marketing Executive in 2012. [Read full bio…]

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