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Business Case to Inspire: Cullen Eco-Friendly Packaging (United Kingdom)

PackTech Ventures - Newsletter #2 - December 2022



Cullen is Europe’s only combined manufacturer of moulded pulp & corrugated cardboard packaging, have supplied over 1 billion eco-friendly products to over 34 countries globally. Its history dates back 100 years when Robert Cullen and his sons established a box-making company in Glasgow, on the banks of the River Clyde. In 1921, Robert Cullen & Sons was born and quickly became the local specialist in high-end packaging for premium whisky brands.


In 1976, after decades of steady growth, company-owner Robert Cullen passed away. Ownership of the business was transferred to his wife and sons who continued trading using the same values it was built upon – family. In 1995, due to a steady increase in revenue, Cullen relocated to a purpose-built site in Anniesland, north-west Glasgow, where the business operates today. The move was driven by the expansion possibilities for the growing company.


In 2001, Cullen purchased “Universal Pulp Packaging”, entering the moulded pulp market. However, in 2003, on a cold December night, a fire broke out in one of its corrugate stores. The fire tore through two warehouses and took nearly 9 months to rebuild. One of the worst moments in Cullen history. Then, in 2004, a state of the art fire prevention project was commissioned safeguarding the future of the business.


In 2007, Cullen entered the medical pulp market, stocking the NHS and HSE healthcare systems, as well as medical facilities in more than 25 other countries worldwide. Despite the market expansion, in 2009, it was saved from closure: Ronnie MacDonald, current Chairman, bought the company Robert Cullen & Sons, saving it from administration and the 125-strong workforce from redundancy. His son, David MacDonald, joined the company as Director and Allan Maitland became Managing Director. Under their administration, in 2011,Cullen Packaging reached a turnover in excess of £10million for the first time.


With investments in new equipment, then new record turnover: in 2016, the company invested in two HQ, large format 4 colour printers for its corrugated factory providing market leading print quality. As well as this, the company reached a turnover of £15million with 150 staff. Moulded Pulp kept growing, and, in 2017, an extension to its moulded pulp facility was built adding a 20,000 sq ft warehouse for short term storage and a 15,000 sq ft loading yard with turning area and dispatch office. In 2018, a new moulded production line (its 7th) was added to this facility. In 2019, its latest moulded pulp machine began production, using Wet Pressing Technology to increase production capacity and improve efficiency. Finally, in 2020, Cullen chose to work with Bobst to replace their existing folder-gluers with the state-of-the-art Expertfold 165.


Dedication, quality, diversification, management, investment and innovation: the “secret sauce” behind 101 years of history. The demand for its sustainable solutions keeps growing, and last month Cullen just announced £15 million expansion plans for its UK based manufacturing site, confirming its relevance to packaging market.


For more information about Cullen Eco-Friendly Packaging, visit the website: https://www.cullen.co.uk/



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