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Telford tissue maker set for growth after multi-million investment

By Thom Kennedy | Telford | Business Picks | Published:

A multi-million pound investment in factory space and machinery has seen a toilet paper and tissue manufacturer primed for growth from its Telford base.

Northwood moved last year from its former premises on Telford's Stafford Park – which it had moved into as part of its takeover of Peter Grant Papers in 2012 – into a huge plant with more than 200,000 sq ft of space on the same industrial estate.

Now it has invested in two new Gambini machines which will automate a huge part of the operation, and massively increase the speed and scale of the company's output.

The latest additions mean that the company has invested an eight-figure sum in its Telford plant, which is becoming the centre of the company's operation.

It means the company, which employs about 130 people at Stafford Park, is now on the lookout for more staff to help drive the growth in the business, including by developing its sales team.

Sales and marketing director Brian Tarry said: "We are bringing all the main functions under one roof.

"All the directors are now here. It gives us the efficiencies and scale to grow the business."

The massive factory – comparable in size to the new Magna plant nearby at T54 – gives the company the capacity to grow in the core markets of its Northwood Hygiene brand.

It makes things like tissue paper, toilet paper and cleaning rolls under brands such as Leonardo, Whisper and Bay West, with contracts coming from customers including hotels, restaurants, and businesses.

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With other operations around the country including recycling, making raw materials, and a logistics division which also operates from Telford, the company is now hoping to grow turnover in its AFH division – the production of "away from home" products – from £80 million to nearer £100 million.

Now Northwood is attempting to put in place a team which can turn major investment in new machinery into solid sales, and is advertising for roles including in production, maintenance and customer service.

Mr Tarry added: "We have had to invest in our people on the shop floor and improve the skills base to manage the new machines, and we have brought in new people in the financial and customer service teams. We are now looking for marketing people.

"What we have done has been well received. The working environment here was quite old when we took it over, and we have stripped it right through.

"The new machinery represent a tripling of production – it is a massive jump for us."

Marketing manager Paul Mulready added: "It makes us more competitive. We have similar converting machines in other parts of the business, but by investing in these machines the capacity we are able to manufacture on a weekly basis is significantly higher."

Thom Kennedy

By Thom Kennedy
Business Editor - @tkennedy_star

Shropshire Star Business Editor

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