A HUNTINGDON packaging specialist reckons to increase turnover by 30 per cent in the coming year – largely by offering clients solutions to problems they did not realise they had.

Family firm Charpak, in St Peter's Road, is celebrating 25 years in business with an ambitious plan to increase sales from £4million to £6m in the coming 12 months, with a longer-term aim of hitting £10m.

The firm specialises in packaging for the food industry, although between 10 and 15 per cent of its business is with pharmaceutical companies. Local clients include its Huntingdon neighbours Hotel Chocolat and St Ives-based Beamglow, though it also includes Asda, Macdonalds, Coca-Cola, Subway, Boots and Coty and their suppliers among its customers.

Managing director Paul Smith told The Hunts Post: "We go round supermarkets to see how we believe we can improve the packaging of products. Then we use computer-aided design to propose a solution and make an appointment with the company to sell it.

"We usually aim to start at CEO level but often end up with new product developers in the food sector."

That was how Charpak found itself designing the packaging for supermarket giant Asda's Chosen by You bakery range.

"We're not a price-driven business," Mr Smith said. "We look at high-value promotional items, so we're more interested in innovation-driven future lines than re-packaging existing ranges.

"We work with all the multiples through their manufacturing companies, including Subway's platter lids and bases for corporate use in Europe and the US."

The firm employs 64 people in Huntingdon on three weekday shifts and a recently-introduced weekend shift to operate its nine in-line machines. Expansion means a tenth will be needed from next year, Mr Smith said.

The company was founded in St Neots in 1986 by his parents David and Maureen Smith to manufacture toys and packaging for them. The toy side of the business was abandoned in 1998, the year the company moved to Huntingdon.

It opened a medical clean room in 2006 for the manufacture of operating procedure trays within the NHS.

Management was handed over 10 years ago to not just one son, but two: Paul's bother Gary is technical director.

INFORMATION: Charpak Limited is at 30 St Peter's Road, Huntingdon PE29 7DG; telephone: 01480 434434; fax: 01480 434545; e-mail: sales@charpak.co.uk