Bottle maker invests to secure its future

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Multi-million pound investments in machinery and the revitalisation of apprentice training are helping a 260-year-old Rotherham firm to expand in niche markets and secure its future.

Masborough-based Beatson Clark can trace its history back to the 1750s, but no one could accuse the company of failing to move with the times and even trying to outpace them.

For years, the pharmaceuticals industry has been a key customer for the 320 employee business.

But, following its acquisition by the Newship Group in the 1980s, the company began applying its skills and reputation for maintaining the ultra high standards of hygiene required by drugs firms, to the food and drinks industry.

The move took the company into sectors which highly prize the ability to create innovative and distinctive packaging designs that can play an important part in the customer’s marketing strategies.

That has, in turn, stood the company in good stead as pharmaceuticals customers have also discovered a need to make their proprietary products stand out from the generic crowd.

There is even a place for elegant, traditional bottles that wouldn’t seem out of place in a Victorian pharmacists.

Beatson Clark remains the largest UK manufacturer of pharmaceutical bottles, but the bulk of its production goes to food and beverages firms.

Customers include big brands like Heinz and Baxters and a host of well-known brewers of speciality beers, as well as pharmaceutical companies like Reckitt Benckiser, who produce Gaviscon in the UK.

The firm’s products are also used by smaller food manufacturers, down to sole traders who may buy through distributors, specialist suppliers like the Jam Jar Shop or even through Ebay.

Beatson Clark puts some of its success down to its flexibility.

The Rotherham firm is large enough to have the facility to design special ranges for customers as well as its own standard ranges, which are regularly updated.

At the same time, it has the ability to cater for shorter runs than bulk manufacturers, allowing clients to try out new ideas and tune their packaging requirements to a developing market.

A £16 million investment programme covering the next two years will see the company increase the capacity of its furnaces and forming machines and install a new, integrated, non contact, vision based automatic inspection facility that will replace a series of machines the company currently uses.

The latest investment programme follows on from previous investments in production, packaging and recycling facilities.

Beatson Clark plans further investment in its recycling plant, which is the only one of its kind at a glass works, takes, sorts and re-uses glass from recycling collections in Rotherham and was recently named Environmental Initiative of the Year by Packaging News.

The company, which takes pride in the fact that many of its long serving employees have been part of the business since they left school, is also taking steps to ensure that record continues.

After several years when, like many others, it wasn’t able to take on any apprentices, the firm has created a comprehensive training programme for new apprentices that will see them gain experience across its operations before focusing on specific departments where they would like to pursue a career.