It has certainly been a busy few months for the team at RH Fiberboard! With the recent announcement of the acquisition of Bristol-based S H Fiske Ltd, momentum continues apace, particularly with the opening of the dedicated Big Box division in Wellington.
“We have been selling big boxes to customers for quite some time now, buying in the boxes from other corrugated manufacturers,” explains Sean Baxter, Managing Director, RH Fibreboard. “But it was during the early part of the pandemic lock-down in 2020 that we started to think about adding our own equipment to produce the boxes ourselves, because we saw the lead time go out to unsustainable lead times. We were struggling to explain to customers why the standard boxes could be supplied in less than 12 days, yet big boxes were taking 12 weeks – we were letting customers down, so we approached our owners – Goonvean Holdings – to look at an investment plan that would allow us to add to our portfolio.”
By August 2020, a CapEx budget was approved and so began planning for the opening of a new site near to the RH Fiberboard HQ in Wellington, Somerset. “We found a decent warehouse that we are now leasing, and went to market to source suitable equipment,” continues Baxter. “We have been working with David Williams and his team at GTS Europe for a couple of significant projects at RH, so we had a look at what they could offer us in terms of larger format equipment.”
Housed in the 26,000 sq ft factory and operational in the final quarter of 2022, RH Big Box is running a two colour Weipong 1636 flexo printer with rotary die-cutter, a Gazzella Atlantique TO6400 two piece stitcher and an LY3600 two piece gluer – all the machines were sold and installed by GTS Europe.
Total investment to get to start up was a little over £2m, but all money well spent. “We were already supplying big boxes, but now we manufacture them ourselves, we have added around £1m of new business in the first six months since opening,” confirms Baxter. “The reaction from the customers has been fantastic, as we are truly a ‘one stop shop’ for all types of packaging now and the fast reaction time and short lead times is winning us new business for sure.”
He continues, “The new division has helped us get into new markets as well, including engineering and furniture. It is already proving to be a solid move for the evolution of our business, and our sales team is really accelerating with this expanded portfolio.”
With the addition of Big Box and the S H Fiske acquisition, RH Fiberboard as a group will turn over in excess of £11m this year; this is a big part of Goonvean Holdings, which generates around £70m across its activities.
“Being part of a group of companies, we benefit from solid investment backing and thanks to a flat ownership structure, we can move things along quickly,” concludes Baxter. “Of course, acquiring any business, such as S H Fiske, requires an element of integration in terms of people and culture – this takes time, but is most rewarding. This acquisition and the opening of Big Box are both intrinsic elements of our overall development strategy and we are now looking at options in the market for the next acquisition. We want to grow our footprint in the south-west of the UK and actively looking for the next company to acquire.”