By Joanne Barrett
You can’t go through your daily life without coming across a label or two somewhere along the line.
From the car you drive to the food you put in your trolley at the supermarket to the bottle of wine you crack open at the end of the day – they’re all marked up in some way or another.
It might be safety or energy information, ingredients lists, pharmaceutical ingredients or dosage instructions. Or just something as simple as a straightforward name or postage label.
There are literally thousands of them – and chances are, the one you are looking at, at any given time, has been made right here on Teesside.
At First Choice Labels on the Kirkleatham Business Park in Redcar to be exact.
The company boasts an impressive list of clients from the NHS to the Ministry of Defence as well as the likes of the aerospace and automotive industries and the country’s major national supermarket chains.
Last year it manufactured a staggering 400 million labels and 2019 looks set to be another busy one.
First Choice, led by managing director Nigel Willis, is expanding and increasing both in terms of its manufacturing capability and its team.
May 2019 was the busiest month the company has ever seen with production teams running 24 hours as the expansion of its factory began.
“We are made in Redcar but our labels go out all over the world,” explains Nigel.
“We have a five-year goal here in which we aim to expand the team to 40 and double our turnover. We’ve recently started the physical expansion of our base in Kirkleatham to accommodate the growing business.
“We had 9,000 square feet of space before starting the work, now we have 14,000 square feet on the factory floor. It essentially means we have created more room to allow us to purchase more presses and along with new presses comes new staff.”
The team currently numbers 22 and the plans are to increase it to 27 by the end of the year.
“May saw our busiest month yet, output was up between 20 and 30% and we hope to continue in the same vein.”
Self-adhesive labels are manufactured on the company’s eight label presses – from plain to up to eight colours.
First Choice upholds high standards and is proud to hold both ISO9001:2015 and BRC/IoP accreditations as well as the pharmaceutical standard PS:9001. The team takes a great pride in its work from start to finish.
“We have 100% control over the work we produce, our factory is purpose built and our location means we have great transport links,” says Nigel.
“We place a lot of emphasis on quality control and take a real pride in what we do.
“All of those things are what makes us unique.
“We have new clients and lots of returning clients. You’ve probably come across a label that has been produced right here in your daily life.”
Its output isn’t the only thing that makes First Choice Labels stand out.
MD Nigel is a patron of the Teesside Philanthropic Foundation and has built in to the company an ethos of supporting and giving back to the local community.
It might be something like providing kits for a Redcar school or backing a local football team or supporting a club or initiative through the Foundation.
“As a company we strongly believe in giving others a helping hand,” adds Nigel.
“Being able to help people in our area is so important to us.”