Those of us of a certain age can remember the days when every town centre looked different. There might have been the occasional chain store, but these were the exception, not the rule. Each high street had its own bookshop, its own hardware store and a choice of local butchers, bakers and greengrocers selling local produce. And if you weren’t shopping in one of the local shops, there was always the town market, where the opportunity for a good natter came free with every purchase. Shopping wasn’t just a chore; it was a social activity.
From chip paper…
When the Davenport Paper Company was established in Derby in 1968, these traders were the bread and butter of its business. Paper bags, tissue paper, corrugated paper rolls and white news offcuts for the chippy were best sellers, and a fit and healthy sales rep could visit his roster of clients on foot.
It wasn’t unusual in those days for a rep to take an order for a million paper bags from a market trader and, to feed this demand, the company had two shifts making nothing but paper bags, with four machines running twenty-four hours a day.
Given that all of this is well within living memory, it’s easy to think that supermarkets are a relatively modern invention. In fact, the first British ‘supermarket’ was opened by the Co-operative Society in the 19th century. Sainsburys, which had been operating as a chain of dairy produce shops, began its expansion into other areas during the 1920s, while Tesco opened its first store in Burnt Oak, North London, in 1929.
Boom time for the supermarket chains began in the 1960s, but it was the ’70s and ‘80s that truly put them on top. A combination of relaxed planning laws and increased personal transport gave rise in turn to out-of-town shopping, and many town centres have still not recovered from the effect. With increased space available, the supermarkets could expand their ranges and today the big players sell magazines, clothes, electrical goods, pharmaceuticals, books, cd’s and dvd’s. And many of the town centre traders who used to sell these goods and who were the Davenport Paper Company’s customers have followed the local butcher and greengrocer into oblivion. Today , Tesco is estimated to take about 14% of all consumer spending in the UK.
…to chips packer!
Given this change in the nation’s shopping habits, the Davenport Paper Company has had to rethink its approach and adapt to the new trading environment. From supplying paper goods to local traders, the company is now one of the UK’s leading suppliers of packaging materials to industrial and commercial businesses. Although it does still sell carrier bags, including that former staple the paper bag, it also sells cardboard boxes, bubble wrap, packing peanuts, steel strapping, industrial scales, postal packaging, polythene bags and even anti-static foam for computer parts.
And as the onward march of technology takes shopping online and even further from the high street, Davpack – as the Davenport Paper Company has now become, to reflect its change in emphasis – continues to adapt and grow, supplying the growing army of internet traders with the means to send their niche products safely around the country and around the world.
It’s this ability to move with the times that has allowed Davpack to survive the biggest shake-up in trading patterns in centuries – not to mention two deep and devastating recessions – and come out the other side stronger and still growing. Just don’t expecting their products to be keeping your chips warm anymore.
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