Yorkshire Times
Weekend Edition
12:00 AM 11th July 2024

Roberts Mart Chairman Celebrates An Unprecedented 60 Years In The Business

John Roberts
John Roberts
John Roberts, Chairman at Leeds based flexible packaging manufacturer Roberts Mart, is celebrating 60 years of service with the family firm.

Mr Roberts began his career in the print industry in 1961, embarking on a diploma course at Leeds College of Printing and Technology, joining the family business in 1964 at the age of 20.

Founded in 1852 by William Roberts, Roberts Mart is a sixth-generation business and John has seen many changes over the past six decades, with both the business and the industry evolving massively.

As a boy John’s father, Peter Roberts used to take him into work, setting the seed for both John’s future and that of the firm. John went on to work closely for over 30 years with his father, taking over operational control in 1974.

“In the sixties Roberts Mart was essentially a letterpress and litho printers,” explains John. “We set type by hand, we were binders, we made paper bags – all that’s gone. Now we print flexographically reel to reel on big, huge presses that run 24 hours a day at high speed.”

Widely recognised for modernising the firm, with significant investment in both plant and equipment, in the mid 70s John introduced the production of polythene bags with the company’s first polythene bag making machine. This was followed in 1983 by the purchase of a polythene extrusion business.

John also masterminded the moving of the Roberts Mart headquarters from its landmark site of 120 years at Bank Mills to a new state-of-the-art, purpose-built facility on the outskirts of Leeds, close to major transport routes.

In 2009, after 45 years at the helm, John handed over the day-to-day management of the firm to his two sons, William and Ben, remaining very much a part of the business as Chairman. Working under his father’s tutelage helped John cope with the stresses and strains of running the business and over the years he has provided a similar mentoring role to his sons.

William Roberts, Managing Director at Roberts Mart, commented: “This is a remarkable achievement for my father. His dedication and forethought have made the company what it is today. Both Ben and I are proud to follow in his footsteps.”

In 2016 John Roberts was handed the British Printing Industries Federation’s (BPIF) Outstanding Contribution Award.

Despite the challenges over the years, John Roberts has led the company forward to become one of the most successful flexible printing and packaging companies in the UK, now firmly placed at forefront of its sector.

Today, from its headquarters in Leeds the family firm employs over 235 staff and supplies packaging solutions for brands across the UK and Europe, predominantly in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sectors.

With a turnover expected to reach £50m by the end of 2024, the current directors have recently invested over £11 million in new machinery and an extensive facility expansion to allow the firm to operate even more efficiently, future-proof the business and better support a growing customer base.