Early start for launch of Marches Growth Hub

YESTERDAY morning I found myself arriving bleary-eyed at the University of Wolverhampton's Telford campus, with the sun having only just risen, not having had breakfast, and the clock not even registering 7.30am. I'm sure for a few of Shropshire's student population, this is the absolute norm (probably with accompanying headache), but I was there to attend a breakfast meeting and 'hub' launch. 

Luckily enough, fresh coffee, a sausage sandwich and pastries were on offer before anyone got down to business, so the hunger quickly abated, even if it took the coffee a little while to kick in. During the ensuing mingling - networking I believe is the technical term, but I prefer the Nintento Wii-style mingling - the inevitable question came, 'so what does Sirane do?'.

It's a surprisingly difficult question to answer, particularly to people not in the 'trade'... as we do so much. It can be a difficult question to answer without going into too much detail, it's not an easy company to pigeon hole. Absorbency? Does that cover it, well no, because we also make cooking bags, supply packaging films, medical products etc. Food packaging? Well that would be ignoring the medical & healthcare, horticultural and industrial divisions? Packaging innovation? Some of our products are not packaging solutions... so I tend to offer something like 'food packaging design, medical and horticultural products based on absorbency, shelf-life extension and material science'. And then I wait to see whether they are interested to know more. More often than not they do indeed want to know more...

I guess for many people it's an area they've never really thought about. As a consumer they have never given that absorbent pad in their pack of meat any thought whatsoever. it's just there when they open the meat pack, and they throw it away. They've never considered why it is there, what difference it makes, who made it, and how much it extends the shelf-life of the product. They've never considered that there is a certain level of science gone into making sure that their punnet of strawberries is in the best possible condition, and stays fresh for as long as possible.

Anway, mingling done, it was time for the main event.... sounds like a boxing match, I now have visions of the leader of Telford Council coming on to the stage with Simpy the Best blaring in the background. No, there was no ringside seats needed for the launch of the Marches Growth Hub. Covering Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin, the hub has brought together all services available to business in the region, such as grants, training, funding etc - whether sourced locally or nationally - and put access to it, and advice, in one place. And unlike many of these hubs nationally (there are 30), which are virtual only, the Marches hub is both virtual and has an actual physical home - which is at the University of Wolverhampton's Telford campus. Hence my bleary-eyed visit.

Additional sites are to be opened in Shrewsbury and Hereford, meaning businesses across the Marches will have access to some fantastic resources.The hub includes meeting rooms, interactive conferencing facilities, a calendar of training events, and staff who can advise on all the support out there for businesses... it looked a great resource and one well worthy of support.

Have a look at www.marchesgrowthhub.co.uk and you can see the virtual hub and the services on offer... and anyway, free pastries is always a good start to any day!


'Only 91 shopping days until Christmas'... is your food packaging sorted?

WHEN I was much smaller than I am now, in the days when some people still had black and white TVs, there were a few certainties in life: my grandma would serve Welsh Rarebit and baked potatoes followed by Mr Kipling's Fondant Fancies for tea on a Friday; the BBC would show the news at 9 o'clock (yes 9 o'clock, none of this 10 o'clock malarkey), and England would lose to Australia at cricket.

And on Christmas Day my grandad would sit back in his chair, replete and content, and say "well, only 313 shopping days until Christmas". It was as traditional as the Queen's Speech. Christmas wasn't Christmas without it. If the meal ended and it hadn't been said, time sort of stood still, people hung about and waited. What would happen if he didn't say it? It didn't warrant thinking about...

Sadly he died before Sunday trading became legal, as that would have added a bit of spice to the event. Everyone would have been on tenterhooks, anxious to see whether he'd adjusted his figures. To be honest I don't know if 313 was ever actually correct, did he take into account what day of the week Christmas fell on? Who knows, you don't challenge the patriarch of the family in their prime...

Well, in the words of dear old Frederick, "there's only 91 shopping days until Christmas". Which is a lot... for your average man or woman on the street, it's still ages away. Anyone who has started their Christmas shopping is either far too organised or has far too much time on their hands. Although I did notice our local Co-op is already stocking mince pies... who is buying them? Who? But for anyone in the food packaging game, 92 days is nothing. In fact, I would go as far as to say many larger companies will have had Christmas planned months ago, they'll probably be on to Easter... 

But for some companies out there, 91 days means Christmas is still an event to be planned, to be maximised from a sales point of view....

If you're one of the companies for whom Christmas is still be be considered, we have lots of ideas that could make the difference this Christmas to your food sales? From nylon packaging for roast turkeys to oven-ready food dividers, Sirane has the answers. Nylon roasting bags for your turkey, salmon boards with a festive design, oven-ready dividers for pigs in blankets and other side dishes; our varied range of food packaging solutions will help give customers a stress-free Christmas – and help your products stand out on the shelves.

Whether you're selling turkey, side dishes or fish/vegetarian alternatives, we're here to help. And we have products that will give your Christmas sales the quality and edge they need. Nylon, for example, is the best roasting bag material on the market.... it browns the meat, won't stick, leaves it tender and flavoursome, and stops it drying out. After all, no-one wants to gamble on Christmas dinner.



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