Beatus Cartons was founded in 1940 by Jacob Beatus and has since grown from its humble beginnings in Hannah Street, Porth and its factory at Cymmer Road to its current location at North Road, Porth. Over the years, whilst continuing to trade from our Rhondda Valley location, we have ventured into the supply of carton packaging to a wide range of markets – from confectionery to cereal bars, from garden fertilisers and lawn seed to beauty products and healthcare, from the automotive industry to pharmaceuticals and many more.
We are also extremely proud that Jacob Beatus Ltd (trading as Beatus Cartons) are believed to be the only privately-owned company in the UK that produces solid board, litho-laminated and printed plastic packaging under the same roof and with the same team of workers. It is also supported by an impressive list of quality and environmental accreditations. What is more, our success has been facilitated by a loyal and skilled workforce which has stayed with the company through good times and bad. Today we are proud to have many members of staff who have worked here for over 40 years, which is a testament to the business and to their loyalty. Currently we employ 54 full-time personnel, whose jobs will be safeguarded with the purchase of the new machinery.
What challenges and potential issues were you facing due to the Brexit uncertainty?
We have been preparing for a worst-case Brexit scenario, particularly with regards to the impact it will have on our supply chain and the possible consequences for our customers. Key to all possible scenarios is maintaining a strong and reliable supply chain. Most of our board raw materials are imported from Europe so we have had to contact key suppliers. Other than continued raw material price increases, exchange rate volatility and potential import tariffs, the main issue is that there may be delays with customs.
Additionally, board agents have indicated that they will be increasing warehouse stocks in the UK to ensure that supply needs are met and ensure there is as little disruption as possible. We will be urging customers to build into their planning any additional lead times that may be required. In the short term, we will also be looking at increasing stock levels in-house and we will work with our customers to find a balanced approach to this as an interim measure until a level of stability is once again reached.
Your reasons for applying for the Brexit Resilience Grant: what projects is this going to be invested towards and how do you think the fund would help you tackle the challenges posed by Brexit?
To help ensure our continued competitiveness in the UK printed packaging market, over the last 2 years we have invested heavily in the procurement of the latest and most advanced printing and packaging conversion machinery. To compliment this significant investment, it has been recognised by the production staff and management teams that there were another two items of capital equipment that were in urgent need of replacement:
- Guillotine (£60,950 + VAT)
- Pile Turner (£38,000 + VAT)
- Total for both capital assets = £98,950 + VAT
The UK board stockists had indicated that due to the potential difficulty in obtaining bespoke material sizes, they will be holding standard stock sizes which can be purchased with shorter lead time but will require cutting down to the required size. This means it is extremely likely that due to the potential delays in European sourced board materials (there are no UK manufacturers), the handling and cutting down of stock materials acquired from UK board stockists will significantly increase. Our older equipment just wasn’t adequate or reliable enough to enable us to do this both efficiently and competitively. In order to ensure these oversized materials are prepared on a timely basis and to the desired quality, we were required to purchase new, essential machinery.
The new equipment has certainly helped us in maintaining our service levels. An example is a client of ours with headquarters in France. Prior to Beatus winning the account in 2009, all their packaging was imported into the UK from the continent. Since then, we have manufactured over 1,700 different carton designs for them and in excess of 10,000 separate orders. Due to the wide variety of material sizes and callipers involved, an updated efficient and reliable guillotine and pile-turner were invaluable to us to ensure we are able to meet the customer’s strict lead-time requirements and not give them any reason to look for an alternative carton supplier.
Our priority at this moment in time is to ensure the maintenance and retention of our current customer accounts, thus ensuring our own viability as a business.
Business Wales support
In October 2018, we made an initial enquiry on the potential availability of any Local Authority grants that could assist with the next step in our investment project. We were then advised to get in touch with Business Wales.
We were appointed a Relationship Manager, David Fisher, who took time and interest to find out about our history, our needs, concerns and goals to determine where Business Wales could provide assistance or solutions. Following several visits, David advised us of a brand-new Welsh Government Brexit Resilience Fund which had just been made available.
With David’s assistance, we completed an Expression of Interest and provided all the information necessary to demonstrate that we would be a worthy candidate for consideration. After just a few months from our initial contact with David, we were very pleased to be informed that our application had indeed passed the first stage of approval and received the authority to move forward with our planned investment project. In summary, our £98,950 investment would be matched 50/50 from the available Brexit fund. In the whole company’s 79-year history, this was the largest financial assistance we had ever received. By the spring of 2019, we were pleased to take delivery of our new pile-turner and guillotine, and we are extremely grateful to Business Wales and in particular David for his guidance, assistance and the professionalism that he showed throughout the project. It was very much appreciated.
What other activities are you undertaking to prepare your business for the UK leaving the EU?
We have been working closely with customers and suppliers alike to ensure we have a greater understanding of the impact a no-deal Brexit may have upon them. By working in partnership, we have gained valuable knowledge of the potential delays, disruptions and cost implications that a no-deal Brexit may bring.
Reviewing World Trade Organisation tariffs gives an insight into the potential cost implications not only for our business, but the entire business cycle from procurement to delivery. Continual communication with our customers with regards to lead times and potential delays has allowed them to forward plan their packaging requirements and place advanced orders to ensure continuity of supply.
We also created an internal Brexit Team to review the ongoing situation and ensure all areas of the business are aware of any potential issues. The team have also undertaken online webinars provided by HMRC. The reality is that we need to prepare for all eventualities and be in a position to react quickly when a deal or no-deal Brexit is announced.