Made in Tamworth: Exclusive paper for top name brands
A DESIGNER dress from Selfridges, some posh undies from La Senza, a burger from KFC or £1,000 from your bank – there's one Tamworth company that's got it all wrapped up.
For these are just a few of the companies for which Tamworth's Creative Paper Products produce their exclusive printed paper – and a tour of their Lichfield Road factory is a bit of an eye-opener for anyone who thinks that Tamworth's manufacturing industry is something long gone.
"The paper industry is still going strong in Tamworth – we're probably the major producer of printed tissue paper in the UK," says managing director David Sharpe.
Importing paper from all over the world, the company supplies an extensive list of top brands including Selfridges, Harrods, Clinique and Ted Baker.
They also supply tissue paper to the Co-op bakery departments across the world – 24 tonnes of it – as well as greaseproof paper for Sainsbury's, Morrisons and to be exported to Canada, Russia and the USA.
Creative Paper Products has some connections with Tamworth's older paper industry, being formed when Smurfitt (which bought Alders Mill in the 1970s) closed its doors in 1991.
Just 38 people are employed at the factory, but the paper industry has been a huge part of the lives of many of them.
Twins Michael and Gerald Barber, aged 64, both work at the factory. One said: "We've been in the paper industry all our lives and we love it! We started out on a week's trial at Alders Mill and it all went from there. We both met our wives in the paper bag room at Alders!"
Among the exclusive products that the company produce are the paper strips used by banks to bind wads of notes. The strips were all made from dyed paper until 2007, when, as Dave explains, the price of dyed paper went 'through the roof' and most of the banks were reluctant to pay the extra cash.
"We offered to print them with colour on white paper to cut costs. They had to get permission from the Bank of England to do it, but most of them did. The machines used for this work are around 40 years old and were built by a man from Cannock, who constructed them in his garage. But they are still effective, they do the job."
Wandering around the rest of the factory, I notice that most of the machinery used seems pretty old. Dave said: "The way we work here is very old-fashioned in some ways, the machinery is old, but it still works effectively and is easily repaired and we do a lot of work by hand – a lot of our products are packed by hand and we get very positive comments from our customers, especially those who have visited the factory."
We pass by some rather prettily-printed yellow and white tissue paper, stacked up neatly. "This is for Selfridges", says Dave proudly. "This is off to Oxford Street and all other major shopping outlets – all printed here in Tamworth. We do lots of patterns and colours and it is used for wrapping in store as well as for online purchases."
Another worker is operating the waxing machine – the firm is one of just three in the UK who make waxed paper for use in the food industry.
It was a fascinating tour of an unusual factory. Tamworth's manufacturing industry IS alive and well – we've got it on paper!
What else is made in Tamworth? If you an independent manufacturer based in the town and would like to be featured in the Herald email firstname.lastname@example.org