Based in Abercynon, Complete Co-packing Services offer contract packing, warehousing and distribution on behalf of national and international companies. In 2019, with the business experiencing continued growth and having just opened a new 65,000 square foot factory, Complete Co-packing recruited Sophie Thomas as a sales and marketing affiliate through the Project HELIX Knowledge Transfer Programme.
The Project HELIX Knowledge Transfer Programme, which is delivered by ZERO2FIVE Food Industry Centre at Cardiff Metropolitan University, employs part-funded technical or sales and marketing affiliates and embeds them within Welsh food and drink manufacturers with full support from ZERO2FIVE.
Jeff Parry, Business Development Manager, Complete Co-packing, said:
"Strategically, it was lovely to have a new building, but we had to fill it. So, we had to grow, we had to increase sales and we had to increase our profile. And that really is what led us to taking on a sales and marketing affiliate."
Steve Nicholls, Managing Director, Complete Co-packing, said:
“With the pressures of doing everything else in the business, marketing was always the last thing we thought of. It was perfect for us to have someone come in and for their role to be marketing rather than for it to be something we did as an afterthought.
"We saw this as an opportunity of starting off on a small scale in marketing, trying to take the market lead with the support and expertise from ZERO2FIVE but then bringing in a post-graduate candidate like Sophie, and giving her an opportunity to grow and instil in her the ethos of the business. That was key for us that someone could come in and grow with us.”
Support from ZERO2FIVE
Throughout her two-and-a-half-year placement with the company, Sophie received coaching and mentoring from the team at ZERO2FIVE, who have experience of working in marketing and sales for some of the UK’s largest FCMG brands.
Sophie Thomas, now Sales and Marketing Manager, Complete Co-packing, said:
“The mentoring focused on areas that I was less confident with. We did a session on copywriting and that's really helped with us creating our new website and writing press releases. We also did some negotiating and sales sessions, and they were brilliant too.”
“I always knew I could pick up the phone or send the team at ZERO2FIVE an email and it was this extra support that really helped me flourish in the role,” added Sophie.
In her role as an affiliate, Sophie was Complete Co-packing’s first point of contact for customer sales enquiries, allowing further internal evaluation to take place. Sophie was also responsible for all aspects of the company’s marketing, including social media management, media relations, email newsletters and attending exhibitions.
“This was my first marketing role after graduating so it was putting that theory into practice and that's exactly what I've been able to do here. I've really been able to develop my communication and sales skills,” said Sophie.
Benefits of the support
With Sophie’s support, Complete Co-packing turned over sales of £3.5 million in 2021, saw their biggest ever year for enquiries and launched 17 new products in collaboration with their clients.
“As a direct result of Sophie’s marketing activity, we had more sales enquiries which led to increased sales. We've also now got to the stage where the enquiries are of a higher standard as people now know our business better,” said Jeff.
“Another thing that we've established with Sophie's input is an analysis of the marketing activity we do and establishing its return on investment. It gives us a great amount of data to say what works for us and what doesn't,” added Steve.
In recognition of Sophie’s impact to the business, she was named one of the 30 under 30 by Packaging Innovations in 2020. The awards celebrate the best young talent working in the world of packaging.
More importantly, because of Sophie’s invaluable contribution to the business, at the end of her placement she was taken on as a permanent employee by Complete Co-packing and promoted to the role of Sales and Marketing Manager.
“I think it shows how much I’ve grown in the last three years, it’s been amazing. The knowledge that I've gained through working with everyone at Complete Co-packing and the marketing support from ZERO2FIVE has been a great balance,” said Sophie.
Sophie continues to be an asset to the business and is helping the company in the next stage of their growth, including promoting Complete Co-packing’s new 53,000 square foot warehousing and fulfilment centre, which opened this year.
For other Welsh companies thinking about taking part in the Project HELIX Knowledge Transfer Programme, Steve and Jeff both have positive words to say.
"The Knowledge Transfer Programme has two key benefits for me. Firstly, it's a conduit to the marketing professionals at ZERO2FIVE who mentor the affiliate. The other benefit is that half of the salary is funded so it gives companies the time to grow and develop without the added pressure of looking over their shoulder," said Jeff.
“I think it's brilliant for any company that wants to gain a marketing presence; it's the ideal route to achieve that.”