Case study

UK Food Packers specialise in contract packing ambient liquid sauces and marinades. The company, based in Sunderland, was invited onto the Scaleup North East programme earlier in the year.

We caught up with managing director, Gary Roberts, where he talked about the biggest challenges he’d faced on his journey to success.

Gary shares valuable advice to anyone who is thinking about taking part in the Scaleup North East programme.


Q1: Tell us about your business journey in a nutshell?

I began my career working for a sauce/dry powder seasoning supplier from the age of 17. Worked my way up from packing operative to production director and after 16 years with the company I left to start up on my own business when an opportunity arose in 2006.

UK Food Packers offer a contract packing service to the food industry, converting bulk sauces and dry powders into sachets, portion pots and other packaging. We are currently operating from our original site in Hetton le Hole, however we are looking to expand into larger premises, this is to accommodate the growth we have and still are experiencing.


Q2: What are the biggest hurdles you’ve had to overcome on your way to establishing a successful business in the North East?

Being able to fund growth and expansion. The most frustrating thing for us was to see that the business has the potential to grow and prosper even more, but finances simply vanish.  The advice and support we received from the programme as well as the funding has helped us tackle this issue.


Q3: What caught your attention about the Scaleup programme?

The Scaleup programme is geared towards existing businesses that need help to expand, which is the exact position I find myself in now, a lot of funding support is aimed at new start-ups. The dedicated support offered on a one-to-one basis also enticed me apply to get onto the programme.

Q4: How did the programme help you to overcome challenges and strengthen business position?

My Scaleup Partner immediately identified a number of barriers preventing me from scaling. I was too focussed on what I could achieve within my perceived barriers and Craig quickly set about removing these in order to drive the business forward. Looking at overarching solutions rather than individual problems was transformational and Craig was able to provide strategic and practical guidance in order to build on the base we had established. Assistance with new premises, securing new investment and ongoing mentoring has given me the confidence to chase down all opportunities that we can seize upon.

Q5: What advice would you give to others in the North East that are looking to scaleup their own business?

The support is available so go for it!  I’ve waited years to push the business forward, I wish this had been available earlier.

Q6: What's been the best business advice our partners have ever given you?

“To think big and visualise what the business could become without any of the perceived barriers”