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Ahead of the Curve

Premier Paper Group

From a string of acquisitions to impressive charitable and environmental initiatives, we speak with Brad Goldsmith, marketing manager of Premier Paper Group to find out what goes on behind the scenes of the company

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A Special Culture

Although Premier Paper Group became a public limited company in the 90s, parts of the organisation date back over 75 years. The company has evolved to become the industry staple we know it to be today through a series of mergers and acquisitions over the years. In 2019, OVOL Japan Pulp & Paper, which was first established in 1845 as Echisan Shoten, a traditional Japanese paper merchant based in Kyoto, became the owner.

In recent years, Premier has regularly made headlines for acquisitions, new product offerings, and environmental initiatives. As of 2024, Premier has just under 500 staff members with 50 based at GPMI and Reilly Plastics in Ireland, and 45 at WBC. The company has a very flat structure with around 90% in customer facing or customer servicing roles, and around 10% in central functions.

The company’s presence spans the entire length of the UK with 14 stock holding branches from Newton Abbot up to Glasgow, and due to the acquisition of GPMI at the start of 2023, branches in Belfast and Dublin.

Premier’s HQ and largest premises is based in Minworth and is home to all the company’s functional departments and an expansive 20-metre-high warehouse with capacity for over 24,000 pallets. “Premier is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of paper and material for print and manufacturing, supplying a vast choice of substrates for office, digital, and litho print processes,” explains Brad Goldsmith, marketing manager of Premier.

[L to R]: Hussein Ismail and Brad Goldsmith on a tree planting day for the Carbon Capture programme

“Our extensive range includes synthetic and self-adhesive media as well as graphical and carton board for the packaging conversion market. We also supply a range of lamination films, envelopes, and packaging solutions; delivered next day to our customers alongside their paper purchases.

“We have always sought to offer choice to our customers and our portfolio is extensive. We aim to be a one-stop-shop for paper and materials.” In 2019, Premier launched its Display Graphics division and has carefully developed a product offering that meets the needs of the sign industry.

This saw the opening of a state-of-the-art facility with 45,000sq ft of purpose-built warehousing in Wellingborough which is dedicated to the stocking and conversion of the Display Graphics product portfolio.

“Our portfolio includes a new range of wide-format media for window, wall, and floor installations and established, reliable brands such as Drytac and Contra Vision,” Goldsmith explains. “Within our sheet media range, we offer products such as Diplast, Ultraboard, Foamalux, and Oppboga as well as acrylic sheets like Marpet, Marlon, and Plexiglas.

“Through our acquisition of GPMI, we are also able to supply hardware like Mimaki flatbed printers, AGFA wide-format printers, and Kongsberg cutting tables to the Irish market.”

Alongside its acquisitions, Premier has also announced a number of exclusive stockist partnerships with companies such as Drytac and Dufaylite. Goldsmith explains that the company has always endeavoured to provide the “best-in-class choice of products” for its customers and this is achieved through developing close relationships with suppliers.

“These relationships are also important to the company for supply chain security and product confidence. “The decision to work exclusively with Premier as a UK distributor demonstrates the standing that we have in the industry and the confidence that suppliers like Drytac have in us,” Goldsmith says.

Another thing that is important to Premier and a core part of its culture is Corporate Social Responsibility and the company supports many good causes both locally and abroad. Over the years, Premier has worked extensively with charitable organisations such as Breast Cancer Care, Friends of Chernobyl’s Children, and InKind Direct.

“Supporting causes such as these, is an extension of who Premier are as a company, our values, and our ethos, which is shared with our owners, OVOL Japan Pulp & Paper group,” Goldsmith explains. “In 2023, we helped to raise £34,000 for Primrose Hospice & Family Support Centre through our support of the Queen Bees’ 2024 calendar.

“Our work with InKind Direct throughout 2023 saw a total of 27 pallets of paper donated, supporting 313 charitable organisations throughout the UK; including causes such as community projects, child/youth care, family welfare, disability support, and education.”

Also at the core of Premier is sustainability and the company has always endeavoured to offer its customers what Goldsmith describes as “an enlightened choice of paper and material”. “There’s an old Greek proverb that I like, ‘A society grows when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they will never sit’,” Goldsmith says and explains that as time has gone on, Premier felt it needed to offer something bigger with more of a lasting impact.