PFF Group is one of the UK's largest independent food packaging manufacturers (PFF Packaging) and the UK's largest manufacturer of PPE aprons. Both divisions are members of the Made in Britain campaign.
At PFF Group we are proud of our heritage as a family firm and UK manufacturer. Founded in 1993 by husband and wife team Andy and Michelle Bairstow, the firm originally manufactured plastic packaging for imported cosmetics, toiletries and gifts, as well as contract packing for other imported goods.
A move into packaging production for the fast-moving food sector saw substantial business growth. Product innovation, calculated risk-taking and investment in both estate and machinery mean that we are one of the UK’s largest independent food packaging manufacturers. We provide packaging solutions to supermarkets, multi-national food manufacturers, foodservice and fresh produce companies across the UK. Our sites at Keighley, West Yorkshire and Washington, Tyne and Wear employ over 220 staff.
Group Managing Director Kenton Robbins was appointed in 2017, enabling Andy to focus on the continued strategic development of the firm in his role as CEO alongside Michelle, Group Director. A clutch of packaging industry product design awards and accolades followed.
Following our appointment by the Department of Health and Social Care in April 2020 to produce disposable aprons for frontline NHS and social care staff, we rebranded as PFF Group with a Packaging division and a new Health division. We are proud to have used our expertise to support the NHS at a critical time, as well as creating job opportunities in a challenging economic climate. PFF is now the largest manufacturer of PPE aprons in the UK and our two divisions are both members of the Made in Britain campaign.
PFF remains a family-owned company and innovation, sustainability and creativity remain key drivers for our business. We believe that plastics have an important role to play in meeting consumer needs and we are an advocate of the complete recycling process whereby plastic can be more sustainably reprocessed and repurposed than many other materials.
We are immensely thankful to the people who work here. Our leadership team provides strategic planning and guidance but on a day-to-day basis, our loyal staff, many of whom are long-serving, are key to our ongoing success.
As for the future? ‘We are going for it’. Just as Andy and Michelle said they would, back in 1993.
Husband & wife team Andy (Managing Director) and Michelle Bairstow (Financial Director) founded Keighley based Promotional Forming & Finishing Limited (PFF); operating from a 1,200sq. ft. building, the business specialised in the manufacture of non-food packaging and packing work.
The business bought its first premises in Idle, Bradford and moved its operations to the 25,000 sq. ft. site where it traded as PFF Packaging Limited.
PFF Holdings Limited was formed: the subsidiary companies were Arvensis Packaging Films Ltd (Keighley) who produced extruded PET and PFF Packaging Limited who used PET to manufacture packaging products for food.
PFF purchased a larger site on Royd Ings Avenue (the current Headquarters) and installed a new extruder and a new thermoformer.
PFF was now operating to the British Retail Consortium's Global Standards and had achieved BRC Certification.
A second extruder was purchased for the Keighley site which enabled PFF to attract larger sales accounts - company growth accelerated from this point.
PFF Holdings Limited became PFF Packaging Group Limited.
The business acquired Thermopak in Gateshead, Tyne & Wear, which became PFF Packaging (North East) and increased extrusion production capacity by 8,000 tonnes to over 22,000 tonnes a year.
Intelligent Packaging Solutions was acquired in Washington Tyne & Wear which added product decoration to PFF's capability; the thermoforming capability was relocated from Gateshead to Washington.
The Innovation Centre at Washington underwent a £1m refurbishment, which included the purchase of two CNC milling machines and a sampling machine; customers could see the development of their sample products at the Centre.
£1.5m injection moulding technology BMB500 tonne eKW hybrid high volume machines were installed, capable of producing 200,000 units a week.
The Keighley site was awarded BRC Grade AA certification - one of the highest grades that a business or organisation can achieve (under the revised Issue 5 of the Standard).
An EFACS E/8 ERP System was introduced at Keighley to provide real-time visibility of operations and mobilise a planning process for master production.
Kenton Robbins was appointed as Group Managing Director freeing up Andy Bairstow to undertake further strategic development for PFF in his role as Chief Executive Officer.
PFF took Bronze in the Starpack Industry Awards for Packaging Innovation, won the 'Best Convenience or On The Go Packaging category at the World Food Innovation Awards (WFIA) and were Highly Commended in the Foodservice Packaging Association’s Product Innovation awards.
An EFACS E/8 ERP System was introduced at Washington to provide real-time visibility of operations and mobilise a specialised planning process for master production.
The innovative and distinctive Bibimbap bowl was created exclusively for itsu (grocery) and took Highly Commended in the Starpack Industry Awards.
Ian Smith was appointed as Group Sales Director.
£0.5m precision gauge control systems were installed on the extrusion lines at Washington.
The Department for Health & Social Care selected PFF for a nine-month contract to manufacture over 360 million disposable PPE aprons for frontline UK NHS and social care workers.
Apron manufacturing machines were air freighted to the UK and installed at Washington. Materials were sourced, extra staff recruited and PPE production commenced.
The Keighley site was awarded a certificate of recognition from Operation Clean Sweep®, an international initiative from the plastics industry.
Additional apron manufacturing machines were installed and PFF's apron production was running at full capacity.
Andy & Michelle Bairstow's eldest son and PFF Key Account Manager, Jack, was named as one of Packaging Innovations’ 30 under 30 2020.
The business adopts a new brand as PFF Group with two divisions - PFF Packaging and the new PFF Health.
More than 100 jobs are created when PFF Group invests over £2m in custom-built machines to manufacture PPE for frontline NHS staff and social care workers.
Experienced health professional Mark Foulger joined the business to develop our new PFF Health division.
PFF Health became a member of the Made in Britain campaign! The division joined many other fantastic companies that are committed to manufacturing products in the UK.
Following on from the successful collaboration and gains made by PFF Health's membership of the Made in Britain campaign, PFF's Packaging division joined too.
PFF is one of the industry’s most active champions of sustainable packaging solutions and we continue to engage with consumers, industry professionals, and government organisations in our search for ways to tackle the world’s growing environmental challenges. Education, communication, and teamwork will all play a vital role in helping our society find realistic ways forward.
Currently, we are seeing solutions for replacing plastic packaging that is actually more damaging to our planet. For example, replacing plastic straws with bamboo from the other side of the world is much worse with regards to carbon emissions than using plastic that is correctly recycled. It’s about a sensible, balanced approach and educating people on how to recycle.
Rather than chasing the big volume lines over the next few years, we will look towards real innovation and smart approaches to our commercial packaging and the way we approach our customers, in alliance with our machine manufacturers.
One of our key company mannerisms, and something that has served us very well when managed and led correctly, is scepticism. We are sceptical of just about everything we do. We refuse to accept the norm and we are constantly challenging ourselves to make things more efficient.
The PFF Group of businesses have each achieved the BRC Global Standard – Grade AA accreditation at the Keighley site and Grade A accreditation at the Washington site.
This ensures a high level of safety, quality and operational standards. These procedures are a mandatory requirement throughout our industry and the BRC Global Standards Award is recognised worldwide and accredited to manufacturers and suppliers whose operational systems and procedures are in accordance with legal obligations.
Royd Ings Avenue
Please click on the following link to download the Keighley PFF Keighley BRCGS Cert 2020
Stephenson Industrial Estate
Please click on the link to download the Innovation Centre PFF NE BRCGS Cert 2020
The Plastic Packaging Tax is set to be implemented by the UK Government in April 2022. Plastic packaging that does not contain a minimum of 30% of recycled content will be liable for a charge of £200 per tonne.
At PFF, everything we are working on at the current time is geared towards limiting our customers’ exposure to attract the new tax. We are looking at products where the overall percentage of the packaging has been reduced, or we are engineering into the product aspects of design to ensure they use less plastic altogether. As one example, a standard dairy tub can be replaced with something that’s half, or even a third, of the thickness and then wrapped in cardboard.
Our customers are very acutely aware of the consumer insight into plastic and they are obviously keen to drive the agenda as well. Sustainable production is about energy usage in total, not whether something is simply plastic or card and the consumption of energy, on any manufacturing process, is always key to us.
We look to minimise the impact of our required energy input and make sure our products follow the right ethos, not just a deceptive, consumer-friendly aesthetic.