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pounds 20m plan to boost sales wrapped up.

Byline: By James Barton

A packaging print company has ambitions to quadruple sales to pounds 20m inside three years. Cramlington's Alternative Supply Company (ASC) has put on pounds 3m in new sales from customers such as Tesco, Del Monte and Cadbury, putting it on target to break the pounds 8m barrier this year.

The company has doubled its workforce to 40 in the past year and moved last September into a new 65,000sqft production facility five times the size of its former premises in Prudhoe.

Sales director Gerard Connolly said: "The future looks very exciting, the size of the old production facility restricted our growth and by increasing the manufacturing and storage space we have been able to create a highly efficient production environment, giving us the chance to accelerate our expansion plans and take on additional business."

A new printing line is expected to be in operation this summer, which will boost production further and see nine more staff taken on.

He said: "The capacity of the new facility is about 400 million tubs and lids a year, we are on target for 200 million by the end of the year and expect to reach full capacity inside three years, by which time we'll be employing about 65 people."

The company was launched over four years ago using new technology involving an eight colour print process that reproduces high quality photographic images directly onto plastic containers, removing the need for labels and significantly cutting costs for their customers.

To take advantage of demand, the company invested pounds 350,000 to adapt the factory building and nearly pounds 1m on new print and labelling machinery.

ASC has sold a 25% stake in the business to its main supplier, Italian food packaging container experts the pounds 65m-turnover Piber Group, but Piber is not party to any day to day commercial decisions. The deal also enables ASC to offer wider packaging processes to its customers, such as thermoforming, injection moulding and shrink sleeve decoration.

Mr Connolly said: "Piber has been our core supplier since we first set up and from a standing start we have become a major customer, buying over pounds 5m of product a year from them.

"So we are very important to each other and this deal was a way of formalising that relationship.

"The new partnership gives Piber access to our expertise in high quality print technology and high speed labelling, while the cash injection from the transfer of equity will help to support our long term growth plans in the UK."
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Feb 14, 2007
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