A MANUFACTURER of eco-friendly paper cups has revealed an appetite for growth by launching a new range of catering products for the takeaway food market.
From a standing start 18 months ago, the Green Rock Group in Wrexham has already reached a major landmark as the largest UK maker of fully recyclable plastic-free cups, with the capacity to make two billion of them a year.
Their cups are used by Premiership football clubs, major breweries, arenas and festivals across the UK.
As a result, the firm already employs 55 people and they are on course to recruit another 50 staff over the next 12 months.
Managing director Steve Granville will be revealing the story behind their spectacular success and their exciting plans for the future when he’s the guest speaker at a breakfast meeting being organised by Wrexham Business Professionals at the town’s Ramada Hotel on Friday, March 10.
The group is made up of successful businesses and skilled professionals working together to promote regional prosperity and shine a light on the enterprise and expertise that exists in the region.
The other guest speaker is Jeremy Miles MS, the Welsh Government Minister for Education, who’ll be discussing the importance of educating young people for the world of work.
A native of Middlesbrough in the North East, Steve Granville, who trained originally as an accountant, went into the plastic cup business and became European managing director for a leading manufacturer, Veriplast.
After getting fed up with how all the travelling kept him away from his family, he joined a former colleague running a similar company in Wrexham.
But he always had a hankering to set up his own company and found a perfect match when he met three UK-based Chinese businessmen, Charles Gao, Alex Xu and Jay Liu, who were looking for paper cups for their chain of restaurants and Bubble Tea shops after supplies dried up as a result of the Covid pandemic.
They quickly discovered that Steve’s fledgling operation was a “marriage made in business heaven” and decided to join forces, with a chunky seven figure investment putting rocket boosters under the company that’s based on the Whitegate Industrial Estate.
Mr Granville said: “Their vision was unbelievable and they wanted to become the largest paper cup manufacturer in the UK and we have achieved that in record time because we have the capacity to make two billion plastic free cups a year and we are continuing to invest.
“Our paper cups for hot and cold drinks are made using aqueous coated materials, eliminating the need for polyethylene (PE) or polylactic acid (PLA) linings, which means the products can be composted or recycled.
“We have also developed a plastic free paper lid because everyone is looking for an environmentally friendly replacement for the plastic lid. Everybody who’s seen it says it’s a game changer.
“The fact that they are manufactured here in the UK also means they have a lower carbon footprint compared to products shipped here from overseas.”
The political tide is also in Green Rock’s favour because Wales and Scotland have already legislated to ban various single-use plastics, including those described as biodegradable, with England now following suit.
That’s encouraged them to launch a new sister company, Green Rock Catering Supplies, to offer a range of catering products, everything from cutlery to burger boxes, pizza boxes, noodle bowls and ice cream and yoghurt pots.
Mr Granville added: “We only launched that in January and we’re already seeing a huge take up, particularly for the cutlery because plastic cutlery is being banned.
“Wooden cutlery is awful and it feels terrible in your mouth. In contrast our paper cutlery is superb and you can cut through a steak with our knife.
“Charles, Alex and Jay are big in the restaurant business and their involvement has opened up new markets for us.”
“The Chinese takeaway market is huge in the UK and we want to replace all the foil and plastic containers with our products.
“We’re also targeting other sectors of the food to go market and we have just launched a new espresso cup and a range of cups for vending machines.
“The word is getting out and now we are getting calls out of the blue from people who realise they need our products.”
Director Charles Gao said: “At the moment, Europe imports 90 per cent of its food packaging from Turkey and China but now we can make everything in the UK, providing the customer with products with a short lead time.
“The infrastructure in Wrexham is second to none. We’ve got Wrexham Industrial Estate on our doorstep so the support services are superb – whether it’s engineering, fabrication, forklifts or air compressors.
“Logistically, it’s a great place to be because of the excellent transport links while we can also tap into a brilliant skill base here.
“It’s a very exciting time to be in Wrexham because of the newly conferred city status, allied to the Hollywood stardust sprinkled on our football club thanks to the takeover by Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney.
“We believe Green Rock is also going place. The potential is huge.”
Ian Edwards, a leading member of Wrexham Business Professionals, said: “We are looking forward to hearing from both of our guest speakers.
“The Green Rock success story is an inspiration to all of us and yet more proof, if any were needed, that Wrexham is a great place to do business.
“To succeed and prosper you also need a skilled workforce and Jeremy Miles will be telling us what the Welsh Government is doing to prepare young people so they can meet the needs of employers.”
For more information about the breakfast meeting contact Ian Edwards by emailing him at [email protected]