Blake Envelopes has invested £2.7m to establish its most extensive production facility in the UK.
The new 2,790sqm factory is sited on the Lynx trading estate in Yeovil alongside Blake’s headquarters. It boasts 30 production machines including digital and litho printing as well as finishing kit.
The plant was constructed over the past year and is expected to be fully operational by the end of the summer. It will enable Blake to better deliver bespoke and time-sensitive work after the UK’s exit from the EU.
Previously, most of the company’s manufacturing was carried out overseas, though it has run some UK production since acquiring the Shrewsbury-based Rapid Envelopes out of administration in 2017.
Chief executive Michael Barter said: “The whole basis of this [new] investment was around our concern for Brexit. We are not a company that puts our heads under the cover, we try to plan for every eventuality.
“I do not think tariffs will come into play for our industry, but there are likely to be delays at border control due to more vigorous inspections and checks. As our sector does time-sensitive work, not keeping promises on turnaround for clients is very dangerous.
“The new factory allows us to sow seeds ahead of Brexit and reshore some aspects of our offering. Once it is fully up and running, it will be key to our future growth.”
The company has also taken on 20 new members of staff across production, sales, marketing and development functions in the second half of 2018. Nine of the new hires now work at the plant, which has a headcount of 16.
Over the past year, the company has also established new sites in the UK and US, with a new ‘hub of excellence’ in Leicester and a warehouse and sales department in Cleveland, Ohio, which opened in July.
Barter said: “Every industry in the US is 10 times what it is here, and its envelopes market is on the up.” The US operation currently offers around 700 products in Blake’s 1,600-strong portfolio.
He added that the company was considering establishing a presence in a further eight locations in the UK and would look to further offset any potential Brexit impact by establishing its own European entity on the continent in the coming months. It would also look to make acquisitions in the UK to expand its domestic production once the factory has become fully established.
Blake has also launched a corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme ‘Giving Hope Through Education’ to supply school bags to children living in deprived conditions around the world.
With a £25m turnover and 76 staff around the globe, Barter said Blake was aiming for “double-digit percentage” growth across 2019.