A print packaging and labelling company has relocated its operations to newly refurbished premises in Leeds in a bid to double turnover of the £9.4 million business over the next six years.

OPM (Labels and Packaging) Group, run by husband and wife team Chris and Susan Ellison, completed the move from bases in Bradford and Keighley to the 56,000 sq ft manufacturing plant, located on Gelderd Road, Leeds, in December.

In the process they have invested upwards of £2 million in the relocation, premises fit out and new equipment. Centrepiece of the Leeds operation is a brand new FA-6 printing line, manufactured by Nilpeter, the leading global experts in flexographic printing technology.
The new machine uses the latest electronically-controlled technology to print flexible packaging, sachets, films, laminates and self-adhesive labels for the food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, health, beauty, automotive and dietary markets.

A grant of £90,000 was received towards the cost of the £1.1 million machine – the only one of its kind in Europe – through the Leeds City Region business growth programme.

“The FA-6 enables us to offer additional services to our clients. It combines unrivalled speed and accuracy with the ability to print at larger packaging sizes and will handle a greater range of materials,” explains managing director Chris Ellison.

Innovation is at the heart of the company’s ambitious growth plans. A unique colour printing process, developed in partnership with Kodak and Newcastle-based repro company R3, has eliminated the need for mixing spot colours, allowing greater printing efficiencies and guaranteeing colour quality and control.

Textured coatings, fragranced inks, tamper proof labels and even the ability to embed a touch-sensitive printed circuit board into labelling are some of the other innovative solutions the company offers its clients.

“We don’t simply print labels and flexible packaging,” Chris Ellison emphasises. “We provide a complete technical solution for our clients who demand the highest standards and quality.”

The £20 million business growth programme was set with Government backing to help businesses like OPM Group expand and create employment. In just three months the workforce has grown from 55 to 69 but Chris and Sue Ellison see scope for further expansion in both the business and the workforce.

“The move to Leeds was a key factor in growing the business. Long term there’s room to bring in another four printing lines, with the potential to take the business to a turnover of £25 million at the new location,” they explained.

“One of the key attractions of Leeds is a ready-made workforce with people who have worked in the industry. Although we’ve had to do a lot of retraining because of the specialised nature of what we do, the biggest factor in moving was the ability to recruit.”
Cllr Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council’s lead member for development and the economy said: “Leeds has always been a major regional and national centre for the printing industry, with a highly skilled workforce, and it is great to see OPM Group building on that skills base to grow the business and create new employment.”

Roger Marsh, chair of the Leeds City Region local enterprise partnership said: “The printing industry is fiercely competitive and continuous innovation is a vital ingredient in driving growth.

“As OPM Group demonstrates, success ultimately depends on developing new solutions to meet changing consumer habits and the requirement of new markets. This demands continued investment in people, skills, technology and processes, which we are delighted to have been able to support.”