Business shows no sign of slowing down for packaging company Leeways, a firm at the top of its game, with over 40 years’ experience

Leeways Packaging has been providing high-quality packaging and processing services to UK businesses since 1971. Today, the family-owned company is one of the leading suppliers of thermoformed plastic packaging and processing solutions in the UK. Leeways is without doubt one of the most experienced firms in its field – and while its core business remains focused on the food industry, the company is certainly not standing still. As Elliot Wren, Sales Director, explains, recent years have seen a plethora of innovations and investments, which are set to ensure that Leeways maintains a keen edge on its competitors as it moves into the future. These include the expansion of the company’s in-house development studio, with two additional high-speed CNC machines, and the ability to manufacture production tooling onsite, reducing development and tooling lead times. And it’s not just about investing in machinery; the design team has also doubled, offering even more conceptual, innovative packaging solutions than ever before.

Investment and innovation
Based in the heart of Gloucestershire, with excellent road links to all destinations across the UK, Leeways boasts facilities that occupy a site totaling over 145,000 square foot. “We have invested massively over the past 24 months, in manufacturing equipment, design and development, tooling production and in warehousing,” says Elliot Wren. All manufacturing takes place in the Leeways High Care Manufacturing Plant, which provides validation and ensures full compliance of all critical systems, facilities and environments, with 100% inline metal detection for all products prior to packing. “In the company’s manufacturing facility, we’ve installed 4 new large bed machines, with another on order and due to be delivered in March 2017,” says Elliot Wren. The results are already demonstrably impressive: “The company’s overall production capacity now exceeds 1 billion trays per year.”  New investment in Leeways’ warehousing facility and systems allows the company to accurately monitor customer stocks, which means a more reactive and efficient response to clients’ requirements. It also equips the business with the capability of holding up to a whopping 10,000 pallets. The process is smooth and swift, from receipt of goods to palletisation, order receipt, pack and order assembly, right through to delivery to end user, and all stages are now completely traceable through the stock-management systems.

“Our NPD team has gone from strength to strength,” says Elliot Wren. “Three CNC machines have been installed, and they now allow us to produce resin moulds and samples for our customers’ projects with a very quick turnaround time. This also enables us to build full production tooling in-house, again reducing lead times, and offering greater flexibility.”

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Creative solutions
One aspect of the Leeways business that sets its apart from its competitors is its emphasis on innovation. The company is constantly experimenting to originate new designs, which give its clients a leading edge and ensure high levels of productivity and efficiency. With an extensive Product Development and Design Studio, Leeways is able to provide in-house tooling and samples; recent growth in this department allows the company to produce sample moulds and patterns for its clients to an extremely high standard.
Leeways has created a whole range of packaging designs, catering for a wide variety of products and and market sectors. The company offers both bespoke solutions, for branded and private label companies, as well as a Made to Order range, which allows firms to choose from a wide range of existing options at no extra cost. The design team at Leeways, who use 3D modelling software, also work closely with the sales staff and toolmakers, so that the service offered to customers is truly integrated – which makes for efficiency and flexibility. One example of the benefits of the inventive, problem-solving Leeways approach is the use of strengthening and design features. These help make it possible to reduce packaging weight in some cases by 10%.

People first
Customer care is paramount at Leeways, and the firm has retained a solid, loyal customer base. “But we also continue to welcome new customers on board,” says Elliot Wren. “These range from large, high-profile names to family-owned independent start-up companies.” Leeways is proud to be a 100% British-owned company, with all packaging being produced entirely in the UK.
Alongside the company’s technical and product innovations, Leeways is investing in the most important area of all for any business: people. “We have recruited and invested in key positions such as Customer Service and Support, New Businesss Development Mangers, NPD and Production Management and efficiency- and process-improvement roles,” says Elliot Wren. “All of these appointments are helping the company to maintain the high level of service and quality that our customers expect of us.”

An eye for detail
The attention to detail and impeccable standards of customer care are clearly paying off. Leeways has consistently achieved BRC A Grade standard, and the company continues to grow year-on-year by 10%, resulting in just over £16m turnover to the end of June 2016.

As for future expansion, with new machines installed and arriving next year and plans for a second manufacturing facility underway, capacity and efficiency gains are expected to grow by 20%-30% over the next two years.

Going forward, Leeways remains passionate about continuing to focus on establishing and maintaining excellent relationships with its customers. “We expect to see continued steady growth, and increased efficiency, and we plan to stick to what we’re good at,” says Elliot Wren. And on this occasion, it seems size really doesn’t matter. “We have no desire to be the biggest,” he insists. “We just want continue being regarded as the best!”

Leeways Packaging Services Ltd
Lobstock, Churcham, Gloucester GL2 8AN
Tel: 01452 750487
Email: info@leeways.co.uk
www.leeways.co.uk