Outstanding award for Harrogate business chief

Harrogate businessman John Roberts, the Chairman of Roberts Mart & Co Ltd, has been given an Outstanding Contribution award by the British Printing Industries Federation (BPIF). The much coveted industry award is given to just one individual, normally each year who have been deemed by the BPIF panel of judges, to have been of exceptionally high calibre.

Presentation of the prestigious award took place at the All Party Parliamentary Print Group Reception at the House of Lords. The event was also attended by members of Mr Roberts’ family including his two sons and co-directors William and Ben, who are sixth generation of the Roberts family to run the Leeds-based firm.

BPIF President Gerald White, who presented the award, paid tribute to Mr Roberts, contribution to the industry.

Gerald White said:

John has devoted his life to print packaging and has been for most of his life at the forefront of developments within the industry during which time, Roberts Mart has evolved from paper based printing to a market leader in high performance packaging films.


Mr Roberts, who last year celebrated 50 years of service with Roberts Mart, told the VIP audience:

I am delighted but also humbled to have been nominated for this achievement. However, I would like to say that this is very much a family award because if I hadn’t had the support of my wife and family in keeping me going during the ups and downs of the trading cycle, I may have been tempted to retire many years ago.


The BPIF is the principal business support organisation representing the UK print, printed packaging and graphic communication industry and is one of the country’s leading trade associations, working hard across the sector to ensure its members continue to develop.

John Roberts, who studied at Leeds College of Printing and Technology in the early 1960s, joined Roberts Mart in 1964. He subsequently took over management of the firm from his father Peter in 1974 before handing over the day-to-day management in 2009 to his two sons.

Of particular note is Mr Roberts handling of a major upheaval around 11 years ago when Roberts Mart uprooted from its landmark site of 113 years at Bank Mills on the Leeds waterfront to a new state-of-the-art production facility on the outskirts of Leeds at Thornes Farm Way.

Despite enormous challenges, Mr Roberts stood by his decision to modernise the company and with his depth of experience helped guide Roberts Mart through a challenging period to successfully turn the business, with the support of his family and fellow directors, into its current position as one of the UK powerhouses of the flexible printing and packaging industry.

Roberts Mart was founded by William Roberts in 1852 and from paper merchanting, commercial printing and producing paper bags it has now developed into one of the UK’s leading specialist producers of high performance packaging films to meet growing demand from a variety of industry sectors including food, beverage and household textiles like duvets.

The business employs around 170 people across both its sites in Leeds, at Thornes Farm Way, and its subsidiary company Romar Packaging, a specialist packaging film extrusion business based nearby.

Roberts Mart counts a number of household names among its customers and in 2005 it secured the much sought-after British Retail Consortium Institute of Packaging (BRC/IoP) accreditation.

Despite his length of service Mr Roberts still likes to keep the younger generation on their toes by getting in ahead of the other directors each morning, something despite his BPIF award, he won’t be changing just yet.

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