Bags of Opportunity

MichaelLongstaffe, Chief Executive, SmithAnderson

Having stepped ‘into the breach’ from day one of the coronavirus, Kirkcaldy-based Smith Anderson, a manufacturer of sustainable paper packaging, dispensing and carrier bags, overcame numerous and onerous challenges to remain open and functioning throughout COVID-19 as a key supplier to multiple pharmacy supply chains, including the NHS.

That, combined with charitable support for numerous Fife foodbanks and those voluntary groups delivering much needed supplies to those unable to travel, meant there wasn’t a single day off from lockdown. Team Smith Anderson, producing 10 million paper bags every day, sprang into action to safeguard all those workers, who had not been furloughed from early April.

Chief Executive of Smith Anderson, Michael Longstaffe, commented:

“The only way we were going to be able to remain open for business, was to offer our team a working environment which was even safer than if they were at home. Our production process is naturally ‘distant’, but we needed a lot of innovative thought, screens, directional chutes, and numerous other ideas to come to fruition. A combination of all of these, viable PPE and social distancing, powered by an engaged workforce both eager to help and also mindful of the risks, resulted in a fantastic performance.

Approximately 60 per cent of the workforce was furloughed after a two-week Easter break, which allowed the management team, supported by Unite the Union, to clarify their plan to remain operational and safely deliver much needed products to pharmacy, charitable and food service customers that had remained open.

Michael added:

“We focused heavily on pharmacy from the start and, as time went on, that foundation allowed us to expand operations and we were able to build much needed stock for customers to return to in June. Stock build through May enabled us to sell significantly more than expected to numerous McDonald’s outlets around Europe and the resulting positive effect on cashflow ensured that we were able to offer all our employees their jobs back after furlough.

“It’s been far from easy, but I am incredibly proud of my entire Team ... all 240 of them! My primary goal was to be here as a profitable company for them all to return to.

From a personal perspective that’s all Team Smith Anderson ever wanted to achieve and we did it and we remain together!

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