Kite Packaging, founded in 2001, is both the UK’s largest online packaging distributor and the only company within the sector built on employee share-ownership. This philosophy of partnership runs throughout the business, encouraging our team to deliver premium customer service at every opportunity. We now have seven Regional Distribution Centres (RDCs) across the UK which are fully integrated into our national and international supply chain to provide the right product on time, at the right price, every time.
Gavin Ashe, Managing Partner at Kite Packaging spoke to Warehouse & Logistics News.
Which industries do your customers operate in?
Kite Packaging specialise in industries such as ecommerce, aerospace, automotive and pharmaceutical; those sectors that require creative advice around design and the solving of problems to help them use their packaging in the most cost efficient and environmental sustainable way possible. Our in-house packaging technologists are experts within their field, constantly focusing on the customers unique specifications to create quality bespoke solutions. Highly complex products require custom-made packaging created and tested by teams at the top of their profession with the support of best-in-class technology, systems and design capability.
To complement these personalised services, our online website supplies over 2,500 product lines to cater toward the nuanced but less creatively demanding needs of different retailers selling varied products. Across the entire Kite group, we are confident in our ability to provide professional packaging to suit every UK business.
Do you think some of the trends that began or were accelerated during Covid-19, such as the increase in e-commerce, will be permanent?
The sudden change to people’s lifestyles made the innumerable benefits of ecommerce widespread and well-known, solidifying their presence in consumer’s lives for the foreseeable. This shift had already commenced prior to the pandemic, though the closure of brick-and-mortar shops forced many retailers to go exclusively online to sell their goods. In terms of packaging, this increased a demand for ecommerce style products that cover and protect the contents from any damage that may occur during shipping. In turn, this necessitated a surge of in-the-box items such as void fill and cushioning to prevent movement, and consequent damage, within a box.
However, ecommerce isn’t all of the economy and traditional manufacturing sectors are still determinably thriving. Overall, the current culture of commerce is fast-moving with perpetual fluctuations in the needs of our customers. Through keenly following these trends, Kite is able to constantly adapt our offerings to meet the changing demands.
How future proof is your business?
Very. Our philosophy of employee share-ownership equips us with an inherent drive for success and a strong balance sheet that empowers us to heavily invest in our in-house talent to consistently improve and grow. This includes our in-house Government-Accredited Environmental Compliance team which serves to educate and assist our customers regarding Packaging Regulations, streamlining an otherwise time-consuming registration process. Our in-depth knowledge of these complicated matters makes Kite the perfect partner for your business, particularly with an incoming Plastic Tax looming.
Furthermore, in the face of supply chain uncertainties and the ever-turbulent nature of ecommerce, Kite Packaging is in the fortunate position of having established a strong network of contacts, suppliers and resources to adapt to any present or future disruptions. Our company has always used an effective warehouse management system powered by strategic buying that enables us to constantly have a wealth of held stock available for shipping. Our acute awareness of how vital fast delivery times is to the reputation of a business drives us to utilise our connections to always find a way to deliver packaging to our customers.
Will you be investing in your premises over the next 12 months?
Our current rate of growth and more importantly our ambitions for substantial future growth mean we will be moving into a brand-new facility in 2022. This newly built site will give our Midlands based operations an extra 190,000 sq.ft, taking us up to over 350,000 sq.ft of warehousing and logistics space, allowing us to dramatically scale up both our Ecommerce and Midlands RDC operations. We are also planning multi million pound investment in three of our other sites to unlock greater creative freedom across Kite.
What is the company’s commitment to social responsibility?
Our employee share-ownership establishes our culture of working for a greater good rather than individual gain: an ethos visible across the company as a whole. We consider it our social responsibility to help as many businesses as possible to embrace sustainable packaging and minimise their usage wherever possible for the larger purpose of protecting our environment. To achieve this goal, we carry out extensive stretch wrap audits which test and assess how our customers use pallet wrap. From here, we identify ways to minimise plastic consumption while ensuring optimal safety is still observed and contents remain professionally packed. This results in massive cost savings while slashing their negative environmental impact.
We practice what we preach by not only assisting our customers in their bid to be more sustainable, but also incorporating eco-friendly practices across our operations. In 2021, we successfully achieved Carbon Neutrality by offsetting at source and only creating new contracts with renewable energy sources. Carbon Neutral Britain verified all our calculations across the Kite group.
Kite also prides itself on its program of charitable donations wherein we vote on nine charities, one for each division, to donate £1000 to each year. These are typically small charities local to the voters, empowering our individuals to make a meaningful difference within their own communities.
Are you helping customers boost the level of automation in their business?
Automating operations will become unavoidable for companies wanting to mitigate inflation and labour shortages. Hence, Kite has put a heavy focus on equipping our customers with specialist machinery by carrying out complete pack bench installations where necessary and meticulously assessing output to find the most suitable yet scalable solution. Instant adaptation to rises and falls in online demand is key to succeeding in ecommerce, necessitating sophisticated automation that can be programmed to changing requirements.
Our Paper Jet Speedman machine exemplifies this rapid production partnered with flexibility by being capable of delivering up to 185-200 paper pads per minute with a range of simple program features including a ‘series mode’ for continuous production. Likewise, our Mini Air Pro is able to inflate over 400 air cushions per day to cater toward very large operations with a highly intuitive operating system. Fully automated stretch wrap machines are also available through Kite, representing the height of modern advancement.
How would you sum up your company in three words?
You can’t sum up a business that is as dynamic and fast-growing as Kite in three words, but our strap line hasn’t changed since day one: “customer satisfaction matters so much more when you own the company.”