Parkside International, the UK's largest independent flexible packaging producer, is continuing its European expansion drive with the addition of a further eight-colour Windmöller and Hölscher gearless press at its Zlotow plant in Western Poland.

The site, 120kms south of Gdansk, has already benefited from an initial £8m investment, but has more recently spent over £4.5m on printing equipment, additional bagmaking facilities, solventless lamination, warehousing and new land for future development. The additional 3000m2 warehouse and new production hall was completed within three months of initial design, with the latest Novoflex installed and commissioned “in record time” the same month.

“We like to think we’re streets ahead of the competition as a result of our focus in Poland,” says Parkside chairman and ceo Geoff Stewart. “The operation has ample room to expand and is ideally positioned for our Eastern and Central European and Russian markets.”

The Zlotow factory is major producer of printed packaging for snacks, confectionery, bread, pasta, wet wipes, frozen foods, bread and petfoods and, explains group marketing consultant Richard Cheetham, is increasingly targeting major multinationals relocating to the region from elsewhere in Europe: “More and more large FMCG companies are establishing manufacturing locations in Poland and the former Soviet States and the Zlotow plant is well placed to efficiently serve both them and customers in the rest of Europe,” he says.

Parkside, which has two UK sites – at Darton near Barnsley, making flexo-printed barrier/carrier films, bags, stand-up pouches, bread, cheese, personal care, frozen food, cereal, petfood and snack packaging and at Normanton near Wakefield, producing gravure and flexo-printed shrinksleeves, biscuit, confectionery and tobacco packaging and sugar and flour bags – has also scotched rumours that it is to be bought, emphasising its determination to remain independent.

Cheetham adds: “Parkside’s management has an entrepreneurial spirit and short chain of command and has at its disposal the most modern and cost-effective production facilities. Production sites in the UK offer customers both specialisation and considerable flexibility. Added to this is the strategically-placed Polish factory which gives the three sites exceptional cover of all their growth markets in Europe and beyond.”

Parkside, which closed a third UK plant in Stoke last year as part of a major reorganisation of its UK facilities, has invested over £30m in expanding the business since its MBO in 2000.