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Supply Chains: Looking closer to home?

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In a year when supply chains have hit the headlines in the mainstream media on a regular basis, Duo UK's operations director Dale Brimelow reflects on how some big players are shifting their procurement focus a little closer to home.

Supply chain issues have stalked the headlines this year, ranging from the horsemeat scandal which knocked millions off the share prices of leading supermarkets, to the collapse of a Bangladeshi clothing factory which cost more than 1000 lives. As well as the human and financial cost, both crises also caused much consternation and soul searching among the British public and an associated slew of negative publicity.

Of course these aren't the first supply chain stories to hit the main stream press - Nike, for example, has been dogged by accusations of child labour for years, but there are signs that other factors are now aligning with CSR concerns, leading at least some big British buyers to review their processes.

At Duo UK we provide postal packaging to the likes of John Lewis, Tesco and JD Williams and undoubtedly, along with the quality, service and technical expertise Duo has, the fact that we manufacture our polythene in the UK is viewed as a big plus point.  Backing this up is quantitative research we conducted into the buying preferences of procurement professionals which revealed that, particularly among bigger corporations, there was a strong affiliation to buying from UK manufactures.

Almost 80% of corporates we spoke to believed British businesses should buy from British suppliers where possible,  with just over 40% claiming there is a 'moral case' for taking this stance.  What's more, 52% of corporates are doing more than just talking and are actively looking to increase their UK supplier base.  Key motivators for this action are revealing - 78% identified shortening supply chains or ethical concerns with some overseas suppliers, while almost 50% cited increased transport cost as a driving factor. Around a third said they struggled with longer lead times and reducing competiveness of overseas goods.

So far so promising for British manufactures, but it would be naïve to assume there are no hurdles left to overcome. The same research shows that a third corporations believe that British made goods are uncompetitive, while a very similar proportion (31%) claim the goods they need aren't manufactured in the UK.  

This latter point is particularly interesting. Obviously there will be some products that simply aren't made in the UK - no country could claim to manufacture every product businesses could ever need - but time and again we come across people who are surprised that polythene packaging can be manufactured competitively in the UK. The common perception is that this type of manufacturing will long since have shifted to China or East Asia. However, as Duo's success has shown this patently isn't the case and I've got no doubt that there are many other manufactures working away, day-in day-out to produce world beating goods that not enough people know about.  

As an industry changing this perception, so those procurement professionals who automatically look overseas to at least investigate home grown options, would be a massive step forward. In turn, this should start to shift perceptions that British products are always more expensive than overseas goods, particularly if we educate buyers on the whole life cycle of the product. There's no point in embarking on a race to the bottom in terms of creating low skilled jobs or cutting corners on health & safety or pay & conditions, but very often the purchase price is just the start of a cost to a business, and doesn't reflect the real expense.

If as a sector we can work to highlight both the strength and variety of British manufacturing and its relative competiveness, we are pushing at an open door - British businesses are keen to buy closer to home, now our task is to make it easy for them.


This article was featured on The Manufacturer

The weather outside is frightful...

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Winter is well and truly here and forecasts state that it is expected to be one of our coldest to date. The cold weather can cause some glue strips and label adhesion to harden making them less tacky so to keep your mailing bags and labels performing at their best throughout winter store them in an area of ambient temperature.

For more information on how to store your packaging products please contact the Duo team on 0161 203 5767 or email enquiries@duo-uk.co.uk 

Chuka Umunna MP highlights the importance of UK businesses working together at IOD Conference

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Speaking at the Annual Convention of the Institute of Directors (IOD) on 19th September 2013 Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills Chuka Umunna MP highlighted the importance of UK businesses working together and alternative sources of business finance in light of his visit to Duo UK earlier this year. 

"A couple of weeks ago in Manchester, I visited a great, family run business called Duo UK.

They manufacture polythene packaging.

They're exactly the kind of firm we need more of: ambitious, entrepreneurial and well run.

But when they wanted finance to grow their business they couldn't find it here.

They ended up turning to a scheme run by - wait for it - the Italian Government.

That can't be right and it must change.

We need more competition in banking to make the banking system up its game.

So we are actively supporting the entry of new challenger banks."

Chuka Umunna MP, IOD Conference, 19th September 2013.

We are proud to be a British manufacturer and passionate about raising the profile of this innovative, forward-looking sector, which all too often has been simply ignored or written off. Duo has never waited around for Government support however it is encouraging to hear that our story has helped influence potential future policies that offer helpful and relevant support to assist business growth and employment.

To read Chuka Umunna MP's full speech to the Institute of Directors Annual Convention please click here.

Are you ready for Mad Monday?

In response to the ever growing popularity of Click and Collect services retailers have extended the cut off for online Christmas orders by a week compared to previous years. Many retailers are now accepting online orders to be collected in store up until 18th December. Passing control over to shoppers as to when and where they can collect their purchases will see many picking up their orders on Monday 23rd December - ideal for those last minute Christmas shoppers! 

Verdict has forecast that shoppers will spend £88bn in Q4, an increase of 2.2 per cent over 2012 with Click and Collect purchases contributing to this increase. 

Increase in online sales is great for revenue but when consumables orders for peak season have already been placed, how will this impact on your fulfillment? Here are a few hints and tips to effectively manage and maintain a high level of customer service: 

  • Review usage projections and consumables. Having the right packaging at the right time is critical. Over the Christmas period we advise our customers to review their consumables at least once a week. Keeping a close eye on your stock levels particularly in Q4 enables you to forward plan usage more effectively and minimize the opportunity to run out of packaging to send products out to your customers. Duo offers a free stock management service for all our customers, find out more about this here.
  • Unify your outbound and returns packaging.  Unwanted products are a multi-million pound headache for online retailers. Regular shoppers are savvy and
can recognise a previously returned item from just the clear retail display bag it is presented in. Packing your outbound and returned products in a best-fit
clear display bag will offer easier packing, improve presentation and can reduce the number of returned items. View Duo's range of retail returns bags here.

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The Power of Gift Wrapping

Gift Wrap Ideas

It appears children are not the only ones that love a beautifully wrapped gift at Christmas...

Over 60% of men and women who took part in Duo UK's research study which explored consumer attitudes to gift and luxury packaging, stated that they not only appreciated professionally gift wrapped goods but also associated a number of positive halo effects with gift wrapped purchases including:

  • 35% increased prosperity to make a repeat order
  • 25% improved perception of value for money
  • 25% improved brand image
  • 20% more likely to recommend the brand to a friend
  • 20% believed a brand invests more in customer service

These figures show that overall gift wrapping and luxury packaging has a strong positive impact on the customer shopping experience. 

Investing in gift wrapping not only positively affests a consumers perception of particular item but also influences customers buying behaviour patterns which in turn can lead to higher levels of profitability and can be a real "pull" factor.

It's not too late to order gift wrap packaging to delight your customers this Christmas. Select here for more infomation on tissue paper, ribbon and stickers.


The countdown to Christmas is underway, are you ready?

We know the lead-up to Christmas can be chaotic, so we've gathered together the some essential information and tips to help you sail through the season. 

  • Effective Stock Management. Having the right packaging at the right time is critical. Take advantage of Duo's free stock management service which enables you to track your stock levels, forward for case your supply and eradicate any shortfalls in stock. For more information on this service please contact Eddie on 0161 203 5767 or email eddie@duo-uk.co.uk
  • Limited Edition Packaging. Christmas is undoubtably the busiest and most competitive time of year so it is important to engage with your customers and deliver and memorable shopping experience. Read our top tips on creating limited edition Christmas packaging to delight your customers.
  • Returns and Re-processing. Unwanted products are a multi-million pound headache for online retailers and Duo has took it upon itself to take away some of the pain by creating a perfect solution. Duo's stock range of clear retail display bags offer easier packing and improved presentation thanks to the specially designed size range. For a quote or samples of our clear re-packging bags please contact Duo on  0161 203 5767 or email  enquiries@duo-uk.co.uk
  • Christmas Shutdown. This year Duo will close for business at 4pm on Friday 20th December and will re-open at 8am on Thursday 2nd January. The last delivery date before the Christmas break is Thursday 19th December.

Are you ready to maximise your Christmas opportunity?

Christmas is undoubtably the busiest and most competitive time of year so it is important to engage with your customers and deliver and memorable shopping experience. 

Research commissioned by Duo UK uncovered that luxury packaging positively affect a customers perception of a particular item and also positively influences customer behaviour patterns. Consumers also associated a number of positive halo effects with purchases wrapped in luxury packaging including:

·       An increased propensity to repeat order (35%)

·       An improved perception of value for money (25%)

·       Improved brand image (25%)

·       More likely to recommend to a brand to a friend (20%)

·       A belief that a brand invests more in customer service (20%). 


Packaging accessories such a branded tissue paper, branded ribbon and limited edition Christmas mailing bags are a perfect addition to your packaging range to add some Christmas sparkle and delight your customers.

Contact Duo today to discuss your Christmas packaging plans and maximise your Christmas sales.

Behind the Scenes: Chuka Umunna MP Visits Duo UK Manchester

Duo welcomed Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna to our Manchester polythene packaging factory on Wed 28th August. Chuka Umunna MP visited Duo UK to gain first hand experience of how British manufacturers are coping in the current economic climate.

During his two hour visit Chuka Umunna was taken on a tour of the manufacturing site, met the Duo team and spent time with Duo UK managing Director David Brimelow to discuss the challenges facing UK businesses today.

Speaking on his visit, Chuka Umunna commented "I saw an ambitious, family run entrepreneurial company, which is investing in its future, and creating secure, stable employment for the local community," he said, adding Duo are an example of what Britain needs to aid an economic recovery."


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Duo UK Managing Director, David Brimelow and Chuka Umunna MP start the tour of Duo's Manchester factory where he visited each stage of the polythene manufacturing process: extrusion, print and conversion.


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Chuka Umunna MP and Duo's Commercial Director Anthony Brimelow discussed how the potential attack on Syria has already caused a spike in polythene prices. This will increase the manufacturing cost of Duo's products impacting on the companies profitability and cost of product to the customer.


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Duo's new co-extruder, which was financed by the Italian Government using a funding method known as forfaiting, was of particular interest to  Chuka Umunna MP who commented,"There's an extraordinary situation where you have a fantastic manufacturing firm producing products they're selling across the country. They're expanding and employ 120 people. But in order to get the finance they need they've gone to Italy to take advantage of a scheme to help businesses access funds. I think that's an absurd and unacceptable situation."

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Duo apprentice Paul Brown, who was named as the  'Apprentice of the Year' at the Plastics Industry Awards 2012 informed Chuka Umunna MP on why an apprenticeship was the right path for his career.

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David Brimelow explained that he is extremely pleased that big UK brands such as JD Williams, ASOS and John Lewis have made the commercial decision to purchase their packaging from British manufacturers. UK businesses working together and buying from each other will help increase demand for UK manufactured products which will in turn boost the economy and job opportunities

Chuka Umunna MP commented "Manufacturing is incredibly important to the health of the UK economy and I was impressed with the very obvious energy, commitment the Duo team has in driving their business forward."


1988, 25 years from now...

Day In The Life

This article published by The Los Angeles Time and written just one month before Duo UK was founded in 1988 predicted what life would look like in the year 2013. The 2013 of today may not be as sophisticated as 1988 expected, we don't all currently own robot maids to carry out our day to day chores like making food and cleaning or even have money that can be tracked back to the owner via barcodes on notes. However there are some similarities between then and now; 25 years on and Duo UK shares the same vision, drive and passion to produce quality polythene packaging products as it did on day one. Duo isn't the only business who has flourished in there first 25 years of business. Here are just a few examples of the companies and their story beginning with their launch back in 1988. 


Lenovo: Just 7 years after IBM releases the world's first personal computer Lenovo entered the booming technology market under the name 'legend' in 1988. The company had just 200,000 Yuan (GBP £21,472) of investment for start-up capital and a small workforce however have managed to grow enough in order to acquire their competitor IBM's PC business in 2005. From then on the company have consistently grown into a technology giant and the world's largest supplier of PC's as of July 2013 with a work force of 27,000 staff and a total revenue of  USD $29.57 billion.

Paddy Power: Today the biggest betting company in Europe. Born in the same year as Duo and founded by 3 Irish bookmakers. Paddy power initially was based purely in Ireland until their expansion to the UK and parts of Europe, the expansion continued with the advancements in technology and the increased popularity of the internet with the new website allowing people to bet online from the comfort of there own home. In May 2010 Paddy Power became the first bookmakers in the world to produce a Smartphone app, since then mobile betting has become one of the biggest growth areas in the company and the largest area for revenue.


SanDisk: If you have saved any type of file or taken a picture today, chances are you've used a SanDisk product to store it on. SanDisk supply flash storage and hard drives for iPhones, iPads, Macs, iPods, Smartphone's, laptops, pen drives, cameras and many more technology products. In 1990 the average cost of 1GB of storage would have cost £7325.53, at present the cost for the same amount is £0.03 In 1988 the three founders of SanDisk had a vision of creating flash memory for "an emerging new class of compact, portable products, such as hand-held computers, electronic notebooks, solid-state cameras…and cellular telephones." Their vision was to become a reality with a huge surge in technological advancements in mobile and portable technology in particularly 20 years later as the first android and iPhone Smartphone's were introduced and rolled out in 2007/08. As a result of the massive increase of storage and substantial reduction in size SanDisk has been partly responsible for the increased portability of computer technology over time and the evolution of digital cameras.


Economic Benefits of Closed Loop Recycling

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With the government and local councils investing millions of pounds into encouraging and enforcing recycling at a domestic and industry level, leaders are looking at businesses like Duo UK to facilitate the reprocessing of excess plastic and waste materials to help achieve ambitious recycling targets. The government is encouraging manufacturers to contribute to a more circular economy in which a circular flow of materials and energy is endorsed for environmental gain in addition to monetary benefits in the form of cost savings. The government aim to reduce the amount of waste that was sent to landfills in 1995 by 65% in the year 2015.

The introduction of the landfill tax in 1996 has been the major influence for companies to look for alternative, sustainable and resource efficient options for treating their waste as apposed to relying on landfill. A dramatic increase in this tax in the past 5 years has acted as a catalyst for firms to rethink their waste disposal methods. Current rates stand at £72/tonne meaning firms must act fast in order to sustain profits as yet another tax increase is forecast for 2014.

To offer our customers a solution to overcome these rising costs and aid environmental sustainability Duo UK invested in a closed loop recycling machine. Closed loop recycling reprocesses excess or waste polythene back into polythene pellets which can then be fed back into the extrusion process to produce recycled content packaging products. Using the recycled polythene pellets Duo UK has been able to successfully produce 100% recycled content retail carrier bags and mailing bags with 25% recycled content mailing bags while still maintaining the products high quality.

Our client Keep Britain Tidy changed their packaging waste sack from natural polythene to 100% recycled polythene to help them achieve their objective of reducing their carbon footprint, read more about the positive impact on their business here.

With the fluctuating price of oil having a direct correlation to the cost of polyethylene, the production cost of polythene products has increased dramatically in the last few years. Closed loop recycling reduces dependency on raw materials and with 1.8 tonnes of oil saved for every tonne of recycled polythene produced the benefits are clear to see. However, there is still a lack of scrap polythene available to re-process in the UK as awareness of polythene recycling scheme such as Duo UK's closed loop recycling facility is low.

For more information on closed loop recycling and the potential benefits to your business click here.


Discover the DUO difference for yourself,
call us on 0161 203 5767 or email enquiries@duo-uk.co.uk

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