APS's Blyth co-packing and fulfilment factory from the air
Keswick Enterprises acquires north-east England based co-packer, APS
20 February 2020
UK-based logistics and supply chain fulfilment services specialist, The Keswick Enterprises Group Limited, has acquired 100% of the equity of Northumberland-based Assembly and Packaging Services Limited (APS).
Decades of UK contract packing and fulfilment expertise
After several years of international logistics and co-packing experience, Keswick Enterprises moved into UK contract packing and fulfilment in 2008 with the acquisition of food and confectionery co-packer SGL Co-packing Limited, based at Nelson in Lancashire. Under Keswick's secure stewardship this business has almost doubled in size, and further growth is anticipated after recent significant investment in facilities and equipment.
APS which has been in Blyth since it was formed 35 years ago by managing director, Judith Leighton and her sister-in-law Margaret Watson is one of the UK's leading non-food contract packing companies. It has extensive expertise in assembling, collating and packing merchandise and giftware for manufacturers, importers and retailers.
The acquisition is the result of six months' work to identify and secure the best new owner. Keswick Enterprises already have a strong track record in contract packing, and I am delighted to announce that they will be taking the business forwards. They also own a number of complementary businesses which will add to APS's capabilities. Above all, however, they have the right ethos and share our values.
Judith Leighton, Co-founder, APS
APS has been at the forefront of its sector for more than three decades, and historically has been the co-packer of choice for multinationals like Procter & Gamble, Diversey, L'Oreal, Nike and The Body Shop, along with local manufacturers and printers.
Deadline-driven, quality packaging solutions
The business currently employs over 80 permanent staff, but is able to expand to 250 with temporary recruitment to meet seasonal demand. It is based at a 65,000 sq ft factory/fulfilment centre and offices on a substantial site on the Blyth Riverside Industrial Estate, with space for further growth. There is also a satellite facility in Derby.
With MHRA authorisation, APS offers a full package of design, procurement, manipulation, storage and distribution services, and also specialises in gift assembly, pick-and-pack, sub-assembly, labelling, collation, flow-wrapping, blister packing and filling. It has extensive capabilities, and delivers deadline-driven, quality packaging solutions to complex and often logistically challenging projects.
Keswick Enterprises' main board Director Gavin Withers (pictured) will join APS as Chairman, while fellow main board Director Barry Croft will also take a place on the divisional board. The APS management team will remain in situ, and Ms Leighton has agreed to stay as a strategic advisor to the business.
Everyone at Keswick Enterprises is very conscious of the goodwill, staff loyalty and heritage of APS. Co-packing and fulfilment are at the centre of our strategic focus, and we bring longstanding international experience to the business. APS will add substantially to our capabilities, and we hope in due course to offer enhanced opportunities for the good people of Blyth.
Gavin Withers, Keswick Director and Chairman of APS
In the UK, Keswick Enterprises Group companies operate from sites in Derbyshire, Lancashire, Nottinghamshire and now Northumberland. Most Group locations also offer co-packing and e-commerce and other fulfilment services.
As part of The Keswick Enterprises Group, APS will benefit from significant investment for future development and growth, as well as enhanced capabilities in sourcing, logistics and systems.
It's a really exciting time for everyone involved.
Judith Leighton, Co-founder, APS
See also www.assemblyandpackaging.co.uk
Under Keswick control and local management, Tibbett Logistics became Romania's leading logistics service provider, with 1400 staff and a fleet of over 100 heavy goods vehicles - both reefers and curtainsiders
Acquisition, growth & subsequent sale
In 2005 the company's founding group, The Keswick Enterprises Group, made an initial investment in a privately owned European international forwarding and logistics company which we also supported with business development and management services. Ultimately our shareholding grew to 28%.
In late 2010, after a change in strategy, we bought-out this business's Romanian contract logistics activities and exited our original investment. At the same time we acquired all the shares in another contract logistics service provider a Romanian joint venture with DHL when the latter withdrew from the contract logistics sector in that country.
These two businesses, now wholly owned by Keswick Enterprises, were brought together and rebranded as Tibbett Logistics. This enterprise was then managed as a single entity, focused on providing contract logistics services in Romania.
Although initial progress was slow in the aftermath of the 2008-09 financial crisis, the business came through and soon entered a period of sustained and profitable growth culminating in it becoming the leading business in its sector in Romania. The staff complement grew to 1400, while the number of distribution centres rose to 15 nationwide.
The business continued to provide contract logistics services for a variety of international companies from retailers to automotive parts suppliers. There were also significant road transport operations it owned over 100 trailers, curtainsider and reefer for retail and FMCG customers.
In addition, Tibbett Logistics provided intermodal support services, and operated what was, at that time, Bucharest's only private rail terminal in a busy industrial park. This involved transferring shipments from truck to railway wagon and vice versa on regular rail services between the Port of Constanta on the Black Sea and the nation's capital, along with all related activities including transport, customs, container management, de-stuffing, etc.
Profitable growth was achieved through the close relationship between Keswick Enterprises' directors and the strong local management team, combined with a focus on following through on a clear expansion strategy. Much of the resulting success was derived from the combination of Keswick's unrivalled industry experience and global best-practice know-how, and the talents of a very able Romanian management team.
At the end of 2017 Tibbett Logistics was sold to Yusen Logistics, and the business continues to expand and develop.
Under Keswick control, SGL Co-packing has benefitted from substantial investment since 2008, and had doubled in size by 2018
Acquisition & growth
In 2008 The Keswick Enterprises Group acquired a small, privately owned contract packing/co-packing business based in Nelson, Lancashire, in north west England called Strategy Group. Rebranded as SGL Co-packing Limited, the business focuses on packing confectionery and other dry food products predominantly for FMCG manufacturers.
After an initially challenging period when a major customer decided to relocate its volumes abroad to be closer to its new factory, we invested substantially in new specialist packing equipment adding a variety of new lines, and handling everything from bagging to cartoning. This helped the company attract new business.
A programme designed to improve production controls was implemented in 2014, yielding many benefits. After running at close to full-capacity, in 2017, the business expanded into another site adjacent to the first. With this extra space came additional production lines and new volumes. By this stage the business had almost doubled in size.
Today, SGL Co-packing continues as a Keswick Enterprises company, and there are plans in place to further develop and expand its service offering, including e-commerce fulfilment from the end of 2021.
More information: www.sglco-packing.co.uk
In 2014 The Keswick Enterprises Group entered into a new joint venture when it acquired equity in Food Search Worldwide (FSW) in conjunction with the Elbar Group. The company was renamed Food Services World Wide in 2021, having expanded its customer base and service offerings to more fully reflect its range and geographical spread of activities.
Food Services World Wide is a UK-based international procurement, co-packing and supply chain business, with additional branches in the Netherlands, Turkey and the USA. It specialises in sourcing and purchasing commodities, ingredients and packaging for the food service/QSR sector importing and warehousing these items in the United Kingdom. It also provides logistical services, including handling, preparation and distribution to customers.
Later the business developed international support operations for franchisees in markets extending from Nigeria and South Africa to Russia.
A purpose-designed multi-temperature warehouse has recently been built at the company's head office at Foston in Derbyshire, and the added capacity came on stream in the fourth quarter of 2019.
Food Services World Wide's customer base includes the UK & Ireland operations of a well-known international donut chain, together with supplies to its international franchises in a number of territories on behalf of the US-based parent. The business also supported the UK launch and development of a leading international pizza group.
The Keswick Group's management team has extensive experience in joint venture operations. Apart from Food Services World Wide, we have successful joint ventures in the UK and mainland Europe. Many of these continue, while some have been sold to partners or disposed of in trade sales.
Between 2004 and 2010 we operated a joint venture and had active involvement with Delamode. During this period, freight forwarding offices were set-up in Central Europe and the Baltic States, and intermodal operations plus a container terminal were opened in Bucharest in Romania. A secondary joint venture was then established in that country with DHL.
At the end of 2010 these joint ventures ceased when Delamode retained the European freight forwarding interests and fuel card operations, while Keswick Enterprises bought-out the contract logistics and intermodal side of the business from both Delamode and DHL in Romania creating Tibbett Logistics SRL.
In 2006 Keswick Enterprises set up Delamode Proprietati as a joint venture with Delamode to develop property in Romania, and we were bought-out of this operation in 2017 prior to Delamode's IPO on the London Stock Exchange as Xpediator.
In 2008 we invested loan capital in the UK-based logistics services provider Lane Group. A senior Keswick director joined the main Board, and we subsequently assisted in its sale to Wincanton plc in 2010.
From its earliest days, The Keswick Group had an active supply chain consultancy business Keswick Management Services (KMS) which operated in the UK, Middle East, Ukraine and the Balkans. From 2010 KMS entered a collaborative partnership with Graphene, a Warsaw, Poland-based consultancy operating across Europe and in Russia, and the relationship continues.
In 2011 Keswick Enterprises created a joint venture with freight forwarder Vector Group, based in Gdansk, Poland, to develop contract logistics business in that country. Keswick Vector SCM Polska focussed on retail logistics, and became a wholly owned Vector Group subsidiary in 2014.
In 2014 Entrad was created as a joint venture between Keswick Enterprises and the UK WEEE recycling business, Environcom. Initially Environcom reconditioned domestic white goods for sale in the Balkans. However, in 2017, in a changed market, Keswick took control and developed Entrad as a Romania-based business focussing on acquiring, reconditioning and recycling commercial catering equipment. It now also imports new products for sale in Romania and adjacent markets. The business has grown quickly in recent years, more than doubling in size between 2020 and 2021.
In 2016 ACS Romania (Allport Cargo Services Romania) was set-up as a joint venture to develop intercontinental freight forwarding in Romania. In 2018 Keswick Enterprises bought out its UK partner, Allport Cargo Services, and subsequently sold the business to Yusen Logistics Europe.
In 2017 APK Supply Chain Services was set-up as a joint venture with ACQSYS Supply Chain Services to provide rental, asset management, recovery and cleaning of tertiary packaging equipment including roll cages, plastic trays/tote boxes, etc. The business supports customers in the healthcare, food and retail sectors.
In 2007 the Keswick Group acquired the Link Group from Farmfoods -- the Scotland-based frozen food retail chain. Part of this business was transferred back to Farmfoods in 2012
The Keswick Group has developed a number of businesses de novo, either in partnerships or in-house. These cover property development, consultancy, asset recovery and management, contract logistics and freight forwarding.
Among the new businesses is Trust Engineering Services which was formed in 2014 to provide equipment financing in the UK and mainland Europe. The Group also created Trust Industrial Buildings to invest in property used/occupied by Keswick-related businesses.
Other acquisitionsIn 2008 Keswick Group acquired the Link Group from Farmfoods the Scotland-based frozen food retail chain. The business comprised three separate operations:
- Link Logistics the outsourced (previously in-house) operations that provided distribution services for Farmfoods' nationwide retail network. This business operated five sites and over 150 commercial vehicles across the UK.
- Failsworth a small local haulier, closed in 2009.
- Strategy Group a contract packing/co-packing business retained and subsequently developed as SGL Co-packing from its Lancashire base.
Spatial Global Ltd
Spatial Global is an award-winning UK-based international freight forwarder, which also offers UK mailing services and e-commerce fulfilment, warehousing and logistics. It provides high quality logistics and delivery solutions for customers across many different business sectors and is regarded as one of the UK's foremost independent global mailing service providers.
In January 2020 Spatial Global won the Project Forwarding Award 2019 from the British International Freight Association (BIFA) for its work on the intercontinental freight handling of oversized components for the Ariane 6 space project (lower image).
Want more information about Spatial Global?
SGL Co-packing Ltd
SGL Co-packing Ltd is one of the UK's top ambient (air-conditioned) contract packing and contract manufacturing specialists, providing high quality support to mainly dry food and general merchandise suppliers. Based in the North West of England, it offers reliable, flexible and cost-effective services and high levels of customer support.
Want more information about SGL Co-packing?
Assembly and Packaging Services Ltd
Known simply as APS, Assembly and Packaging Services is one of the UK's leading non-food co-packing and fulfilment companies. Based in Blyth, Northumberland, it has 35 years' experience in assembling, collating and packing merchandise and giftware for manufacturers, importers and retailers. The business became a member of The Keswick Enterprises Group in February 2020.
Want more information about APS?
Food Services World Wide Ltd
Food Services World Wide Ltd is an international food sourcing specialist, focused on sourcing edible goods, food packaging and allied products from around the world. It works for UK multiple retailers, fast food chains and other leading food businesses, and offers a complete purchasing, storage, picking, ambient co-packing and delivery service.
Want more information about Food Services World Wide?
Entrad Partners SRL
Entrad Partners specialises in refurbishing commercial kitchen equipment and sells into Romania and adjacent markets. Based at combined showroom, storage and workshop facilities close to Bucharest (next to the main airport), the company provides a variety of top-branded used equipment to the trade. It now also imports new products for sale in Romania and adjacent markets. The business has grown quickly in recent years, more than doubling in size from 2020 to 2021.
Want more information about Entrad Partners?
APK Supply Chain Services Ltd
APK Supply Chain Services was established as a joint venture with ACQSYS Supply Chain Services to provide support for reusable tertiary packaging (including roll cages and plastic trays or totes) - ranging from acquisition and financing, through to collection, cleaning and delivery, along with the auditing of quantities at key locations across the supply chain.
Want more information about APK Supply Chain Services?
Graphene Partners/Keswick Management Services
Graphene Partners is a joint venture specialising in logistics and supply chain advisory services in the UK, Central & Eastern Europe and other territories. Incorporating Keswick Management Services (KMS), the business provides consultancy and insight into the process and management of logistics operations both in-house and outsourced.
Want more information about Graphene Partners and Keswick Management Services?
Trust Engineering Services Ltd
Trust Engineering Services provides asset financing solutions to Keswick Enterprises Group businesses.
Want more information about Trust Engineering Services?
Event-à-Porter provides a full range of operational and logistical solutions to events caterers. Its mission is to ensure customers' events run smoothly, efficiently and to high quality standards.
Services include: provision of trained event managers, serving staff, porters and chefs; event planning and management; rental of fully equipped kitchens and tasting rooms (at a south-central London location under construction in 2021); event transport and logistics; plus the provision of other equipment required for a successful event.
Want more information about Event‑à‑Porter?
Tyneside Fulfilment Holdings
Tyneside Fulfilment Holdings was created to provide logistical support for Keswick Group's co-manufacturing activities. It offers warehousing, distribution, order capture, planning and fulfilment services.
Want more information about Tyneside Fulfilment Holdings?
Icon Foods Ltd
Keswick Group launched Icon Foods Ltd in the United Kingdom in 2022, after joining forces with confectionery industry supremo Derek Rodgers. Derek has spent his entire career in senior management roles in the confectionery and food sectors, championing change in both B2B and B2C environments (proprietary and retailer brand). He brings an in-depth knowledge of the marketplace plus an unrivalled network of contacts and suppliers across mainland Europe.
Icon Foods promotes collaboration with business partners for maximum mutual benefit. The company provides a wide range of cost-effective services to support manufacturers, brand owners, wholesalers and retailers of added value and mass-appeal foods everything from enabling strategic direction, to concept and product development, design and sourcing of packaging materials and components, packing product (often using the Group's own highly efficient facilities), through to supplying finished goods that meet customers' exacting requirements.
Want more information about Icon Foods?
Hollyport Logistics Ltd
Effective from 1st February 2023, Spatial Global is delighted to have acquired 100% of the shares of Hollyport Logistics a Heathrow based freight forwarder, operated by its founder, Jerry Holmes since 2010.
Hollyport provides high quality freight and customs services with a strong emphasis on the IT sector. With a large number of shipments destined for the EU Hollyport has established a dedicated storage, handling and delivery service within a 3PL operation in Amsterdam.
Mike Wallis, Executive Chairman of Spatial commented;
“The opportunity to acquire Hollyport arose and very early on we saw a business built on the same values that we work to. We are very pleased that all staff at Hollyport Logistics Ltd will remain as they are vital to the process and relationship with the customers and suppliers. We are happy to have a Heathrow base going forward”
Jerry Holmes will stay with the business this year to help Mike and Head of Freight at Spatial, Rob Tedd get to know the business, its stakeholders and market strengths.
The amalgamation of the 2 companies enhances both parties’ capabilities of International & domestic freight movements, warehousing capabilities and customs brokerage. It will also give access to a wider range of carriers that will enhance solutions and cost. The plan is that both companies continue to deliver and enhance their present services, taking advantage of combined resources and knowledge.
Spatial Global is a member of the Keswick Enterprises Group who acquired it from the founder in 2006.