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20/01/2006

Punjana bag £2.5m packaging investment

Punjana, which was founded by the Thompson family in 1896, is launching new innovative packaging for their product range as part of a £2.5 million investment in state-of-the-art machinery with support from Invest NI.

This project arose as a direct result of market research recommendations which indicated that, despite receiving very positive feedback regarding the quality of their product, Punjana’s traditional packaging required updating. The company investigated further, found that its customers preferred soft foil based packaging, and set about meeting its customers demands.

The company, which blends a range of teas that are sold under the Punjana and Farmlea brands as well as blending some premium own-brand products, installed two new automated tea bag machines with associated robotic loading machines and packaging equipment.

Ross Thompson, Punjana’s Joint Managing Director and Professor Terri Scott, Invest NI’s Managing Director of Clients Group and Entrepreneurship, unveiled the newly packaged products at the company’s facility in Belfast today.

Commenting on the development project, Ross Thompson said: “Updating our plant with the latest technologies was essential to meet the demands of our current customer base. It will enable us to increase trade with current customers and effectively compete for additional contracts in new markets outside Northern Ireland.”

Professor Scott said: “This investment demonstrates Punjana’s commitment to continuous innovation to ensure that their products remain competitive in both domestic and export markets. It is in line with several of the recommendations of the Fit For Market Report and is particularly welcome in view that the investment is in a New Targeting Social Need (NTSN) area.

“With the company’s determination and market oriented approach, I am confident that it will continue to evolve and meet market demands.”

Punjana Limited, which currently employs 49 people, is Northern Ireland’s only major privately owned business involved in the importation, blending and packaging of branded and own label teas.

Ownership is now held by the third generation of the Thompson family, with cousins Ross and David Thompson being Joint Managing Directors.

Punjana Limited has been offered financial assistance of £375,000 by Invest NI towards the costs of the investment.

(SP/CL)

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