The IOP’s Total exhibition stand, constructed by Focal Designs, showcased the Institute’s new, Eastern-inspired logo and revitalised identity.

Feel overworked, insecure in your job and see little hope of a pay rise? Don’t worry, you’re not paranoid, just one of the many thousands working in the UK packaging manufacturing sector.

The Packaging Federation report on the state of the sector ‘Doing more for less’ says that, as a measure of productivity, sales per employee have risen 10% between 2000 and 2002, but at the expense of lower employment and reduced margins.

Apparently the sector “continues to gain greater ministerial recognition and support” but is under pressure from declining UK manufacturing and the corresponding rise in imported packaged goods.

Some 59% of those surveyed no longer see the UK as a favoured investment location.

There is some good news in that not all areas of packaging are on the decline – convenience food, for example, continues its inexorable rise as a whole generation loses the ability to boil an egg [it must be inate, surely?] – but overall the picture is pretty gloomy.

One problem highlighted is that for sufficient margins to be generated for r+d investment, the relationship between provider and customer must change. In other words, those buying from UK packaging manufacturing companies must stop thinking on a ‘cost plus’ basis when they look at the service they are being provided with and, instead, consider the transaction as an added value proposition.

Which takes me to Tesco. What they have achieved is little short of a miracle in the hyper-competitive retail sector – 27% share of the UK grocery market and surging profits which were up 17.6% year on year and represent a very tidy surplus of £4.4M a day!

At least one in every £8 spent with a UK retailer ends up in the company’s coffers. Astonishing!

Rivals such as Sainsbury’s and Asda have struggled to keep up with such a performance. The retailer obviously represents a first class business set-up and must be extremely well run.

I just wonder whether supremo Sir Terry Leahy would find a copy of the Federation’s report of interest?

Gerry Duggin