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Flashback Friday: M and H Plastics celebrate prestigious certificate and plan European dominance

PUBLISHED: 13:00 22 June 2018

Terry Reeve's feature of M and H Plastics in 1991. Photo: Archant.

Terry Reeve's feature of M and H Plastics in 1991. Photo: Archant.

Archant

In Flashback Friday Enjoy Beccles More takes a look back at some of the town's major stories and events from times gone-by,.

This week we look back at Terry Reeve’s 1991 feature on M and H Plastics as the company celebrates a prestigious certificate and reveals plans to expand into Europe.

The article below first appeared in the Beccles and Bungay Journal on Friday, April 5.

M and H Plastics by Terry Reeve

Push into Europe

Eighteen years ago a small factory was set up in Beccles to decorate plastic toiletry bottles.

Today that factory, M and H Plastics, leads its field in this country, it Beccles made bottles are on virtually every supermarket shelf, bathroom cabinet or dressing table in the land, and it has its sights firmly set on expanding its export business as 1992 approaches.

That aim has just been given a big boost with the award to it of the British Standards Institute quality assurance certificate, a coveted accolade and something achieved only after a rigorous inspection.

Said workers director Mr Syer Shulver: “It is a quality control system – a management aid which helps us identify problem areas in production and process and eliminate them and control costs.

“It is an advantage in both the UK and Europe – continental companies are very keen that we meet the right standards and it is essential that every manufacturing company has it.”

Currently M and H, whose impressive premises at London Road, Beccles, are immaculately landscaped, exports between three and five percent of its bottles and bottle-tops and caps, and Mr Shulver said:

“We are looking to improve that. In the last six months we have taken on an export sales manager, and we have taken a stand at an exhibition in France to enlarge our number of contacts on the continent.

“There is a big market there and geographically we are well placed.”

Another advantage M and H has in its push into Europe is its large range of standard items – around 70 standard bottles and 20-30 standard caps, and Mr Shulver said he knew of no other company with anything like that range.

In that respect the company is the biggest in the United Kingdom and probably Europe already.

Currently the factory has 22 bays to keep up with the rapid growth in orders over the past few years. And, significantly, Mr Shulver says there is still room for further expansion in the 26-acre site.

From eight to 325 workers

When M and H Plastics set up in business at a small 5000 sq ft factory at Common Lane North, Beccles, it employed just eight people.

It concentrated on decorating bottles for other companies, and as it became established it decided to expand into manufacturing its own bottles.

Three Italian blow moulding machines were bought in 1980, and two years later, as they ran out of space, the move was made to the present London Road site, and into a 40,000 sq ft factory.

Now that has grown to more than 250,000 sp ft, housing numerous blow mou8lding, injection moulding, hot foil stamping, screen printing and other machines making bottles and caps, as well as the company’s own tool making department, drawing office packaging, warehousing, administration and other facilities.

Now geared up to a high state of efficiency and competitiveness, the company turns out 200 million bottles a year, and 80 million caps and tops, for the toiletries industry, and the cosmetic industry to a small extent.

Said works director My Syer Shulver: “Name any of the major shops or supermarkets and our bottles are there – Safeway, Tesco, Sainsbury’s Boots, Superdrug, Marks and Spencer, and we make them for companies such as Proctor and Gamble, Yardley, Body Shop, Beechams. In our market segment we are the biggest bottle manufacturer.”

It means that as well as making their own standard bottles, they make custom bottles for leading brand name customers – 60 percent of the products are custom made.

“If you are looking at why the company is successful it is the dedication of the staff,” said Mr Shulver.

“We have a loyal and hard working staff and that is key to the company’s success. We work very hard at developing a team spirit, and each unit has its own facilities.”

He added: “We are very proud of what has been achieved here in a relatively short time. It has been hard work, but it has been very interesting.”

Need to recycle and reclaim

The environment and the community are very much in the minds of the directors of M and H Plastics.

It means that no scrap leaves its Beccles premises.

“The environmental issue is one the packaging industry is very aware of and recognises the need to recycle and reclaim,” said works director Mr Syer Shulver.

“We recycle all our scrap here - there is not waste at all going out of the door, and there are no noxious fumes. We do regular surveys around the place to make sure nothing offensive is happening. The materials we use are all environmentally friendly.”

Community

The company was fully aware of its responsibilities in that respect, and also its role in the community in general.

It supports and sponsors many local events and charities, gets involved with local school and co-operates on work experience visits.

“We are hoping the people who work in our area, and we think that is important,” Mr Shulver said.

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