PFF Group is one of the UK's largest independent food packaging manufacturers and Britain's largest manufacturer of PPE aprons. Both divisions are members of the Made in Britain campaign and PFF Group is a member of the British Plastics Federation.
In November 2021, PFF Group acquired Sirap UK, increasing the business's market share of the thermoforming sector.
At PFF Group we are proud of our heritage as a family-owned business 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.
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 create 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.
In November 2021, PFF Group acquired Sedgefield-based Sirap UK, bringing together two long-standing and respected businesses in the packaging sector and growing the Group’s brand share of the thermoforming marketplace.
Innovation, sustainability, and creativity are key drivers for the 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. Our Packaging and Health divisions are both members of the Made in Britain campaign and PFF Group is a member of the British Plastics Federation.
At PFF Group, we are immensely thankful to our colleagues. Whilst the Board Directors provide strategic planning and guidance, it is our loyal staff who carry out day-to-day operations, who are key to our ongoing growth and 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.
The prestigious annual NFD Awards recognise the exceptional contribution of finance leaders in Yorkshire & North East businesses. Rob’s Award was one of 14 categories that shine a light on Finance Directors’ valuable role in the day-to-day operation of a business and enabling them to invest in innovation and grow market share.
PFF was delighted to receive a Sunderland Echo Portfolio Award in the category of Businesses Making a Difference in the Pandemic, sponsored by NHS Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group.
For the first time since the pandemic, the Awards returned to honour firms that have done the North East region proud. Scores of nominations were received for companies of all different sectors and sizes.
PFF’s award was collected by Ian Smith, Group Sales Director (pictured), and Andrew Frith, a General Manager at our Washington site.
Sirap UK was part of the Italian Sirap Group and is a leading producer and supplier of thermoformed rigid plastic packaging for food.
The acquisition allows PFF to combine two long-standing and highly regarded businesses in the packaging sector.
This investment forms a key part of the Group’s continued growth strategy. It increases PFF's brand share of the UK’s thermoforming sector and is a fantastic opportunity for the business to manufacture a wider variety of products to a more diverse range of customers.
PFF adds IMPAC-T, a reduced plastic, fully recyclable, hybrid concept to its range of food packaging options.
The 25-tonne advanced machine has been developed in partnership with the German manufacturer, Illig Gmbh. It will be used to manufacture IMPAC-T, PFF’s latest food packaging concept.
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.
PFF is delighted to be exhibiting at Packaging Innovations 2022, at the NEC Birmingham, 25-26 May. Come and meet our team on stand C102.
We look forward to welcoming you.
The Plastic Packaging Tax comes into force on 1 April and will be charged at a rate of £200 per tonne. The tax only applies to plastic packaging components that contain less than 30% recycled plastic.
The key objective of the tax is to encourage more recycling by manufacturers as we try to move to a more circular economy. It is a challenge that PFF recognises and relishes.
We have put ourselves in a strong position to be ready for the tax. Investment in machinery means we are set up to recover our waste which can be re-used in our processes and enables us to help our clients stay exempt from the tax.
None of PFF’s thermoformed products contain less than 30% recycled plastic, making them exempt from the tax. However, we are constantly innovating to use less plastic and energy in what we produce.
PFF’s novel approach is demonstrated in the recent launch of its new IMPAC-T product – a fully recyclable packaging product suitable for all food applications. IMPAC-T uses less plastic than equivalent PET packaging and can be typically used for dairy products such as yoghurt as well as an array of other produce.
Our clients are acutely aware of the consumer insight into plastic, and they are keen to drive the agenda as well. Sustainable production is about energy usage in total, not just whether something is simply plastic or card, and the consumption of energy in any manufacturing process is always key to us.
Sustainability is a core company value, so we are in a good place to address the challenges within the packaging industry. All our equipment is designed to run elevated levels of recycled materials, and we continue to invest in modern technology and systems to reduce our carbon emissions and support our championing of sustainable packaging solutions.
PFF is ready, willing, and keen to meet the ultimate challenge of using more post-consumer recycled materials in the products we manufacture.
PFF’s own processes & standards meet those of the British Retail Consortium Global Standard (BRCGS), the trade association for retail businesses. We have achieved Grade AA certification at our Keighley site we are Grade A certified at Washington.
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 latest PFF Keighley BRCGS Certificate.
Stephenson Industrial Estate
Please click on the link to download the latest PFF NE BRCGS Certificate.