Coronavirus: Peterborough packaging business trialling new eco-cups
R Howard specialises in designing and making packaging for the food and drink, beauty and pharmaceutical sectors, with customers including Krispy Kreme doughnuts and Emma Hardie cosmetics.
The coronavirus lockdown saw orders fall by 60 per cent virtually overnight and the Bretton-based business was forced to cut production, furloughing 16 of its 28 staff and moving from two shifts a day to just one.
But the firm, which is classed as an essential business because of its work supplying the pharmaceutical and food industries, is using the extra time it has on its hands for a long-planned trial of a new range of eco-friendly paper cups, which it hopes to launch in May.
Lloyds Bank has provided a £300,000 loan through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) to maintain R Howard's working capital during lockdown.
Managing director David Braun said: “We’re dependent on our customers, so when they made decision to close or scale back operations, it had a big impact.
“I picked up the phone to Lloyds Bank about securing a loan to support the business during this period. After sending through a proposal, we received the money within a week.
“Without it, it’s likely we would have had to scale down our operations and lose staff. Now we’re working to turn this situation into a positive.
“We’re using the time to refurbish one of our machines, which is currently out of service, and we’re also trialling a new product; paper cups with a water-based coating, making them easy to recycle.
“The trial had been planned for a while but we had not been able to move forward with it due to work pressures.
“If that all goes to plan, we hope to be able to bring them to market in May.”
R Howard is a £4.9m turnover business, which saw growth of 20pc during 2019.
Andrew Ramsey, relationship manager at Lloyds Bank, said: “R Howard is a dynamic, growing business with a strong customer base that I’m sure has a sustainable long-term future ahead of it.
“It’s using this lockdown period very sensibly by working to grow its product range and ensure it is as productive as possible.
“Lloyds Bank is working closely with business customers right across the UK to guide them through this challenging period and help them access the support that’s available.”