Case Study: iPac


iPac's thermoformed plastic packaging solutions are designed to help clients reduce their use of plastic and increase efficiencies. Working with customers across the food and pharmaceutical industries, iPac's innovative range of products is helping businesses achieve sustainability targets by optimising recycled content and product recyclability.

The business is catering for the increased demand from consumers for more sustainable products and in 2019 Maven backed iPac to enable it to invest in state-of-the-art equipment. As the iPac scaled we provided further investment, helping the expand its operating capacity from 5 to 13 production lines and increasing its workforce by over 80%. Since then, iPac has tripled its revenues to over £10 million.

In this video, Jonny Catto, Managing Director of iPac, and David Nixon, Senior Investment Manager at Maven, delve into iPac’s growth journey, discussing the significance of having the right people and the right product as crucial ingredients for business growth. They also talk the importance of striking the right balance with your investor to engineer a collaborative approach that delivers value for all stakeholders.



Jonny Catto: We're a family-owned business based in Gateshead, and we manufacture recycled plastic packaging for the food and pharmaceutical industries. We set the business up in 2017 with a big focus on quality, innovation, customer service and environmental sustainability. Six years on, we're currently the third-largest independent thermoformer in the UK, and we produce about 400 million recycled plastic packs per year.

David Nixon: If you consider many of the factors that make a good business, iPac features strongly across the board. Firstly, they have a good management team who are experienced practitioners within the sector. The business enjoys good relationships across its suppliers and clients. They also have a strong reputation for innovation and good quality. iPac’s products, they’re market-leading in design and innovation, and they're also recognisably high quality. This gives us confidence in their ability to sustain demand over the long term.

Jonny Catto: So we initially approached Maven in 2018 and we were looking for funding for tooling, and working capital, and we raised £450,000 in pure debt, which we repaid early a couple of years later, and soon after that, we were out looking for a bigger funding package, and we raised £2.2 million in early 2022, which was for machinery investment, tooling, and working capital.

David Nixon: At Maven, we believe in placing capital in the hands of capable people, so people are very important, and giving them the opportunity to allow them to deliver upon their own aspirations under the knowledge that these will, by proxy, deliver value for all stakeholders at the end, including those of ours. iPac management team presented as a really capable team, driven, and they also had a really deep-seated belief in their ability to deliver this equity value for all stakeholders.

Jonny Catto: Finding the balance was really important to us and Maven gave us that, so it was a nicely structured deal that allowed us to raise some equity funding, but not dilute ourselves too much, but to also be fairly gentle on the cash flow through the structure of the Term Loan that we raised as well. When you bring on external funders, particularly with an equity deal, I guess the control element you do worry about, you know, how aggressive is the funder in terms of their involvement, in terms of, you know, how much they aim to sway decision-making at a board level. Those are the kinds of things that go through your mind, really, but again, we already knew Maven. I think we were both comfortable with each other and it wasn’t a huge concern, to be honest with you.

David Nixon: An investment from Maven is far more than just the simple receipt of capital. It's the forming of a strategic partnership, with strategic alignment to deliver growth together. We help plan, we help model and forecast the business using updates and info from across the wider Maven portfolio, including our knowledge of economies and access to data, and also we can give assistance in obtaining further funding from other sources such as grants and other regional funds.

Jonny Catto: Our current focus is on getting our second site up and running. We had our eighth production line land a few weeks ago, and that's ready to be commissioned in our new site. Once our production areas are up and running, we’ll then split our sites and be a fully functional two-site operation, which is great for us and for our customers from both from a capacity perspective but from a risk management perspective as well. But having that second site up and running is a massive part of our next few years.

David Nixon: By creating a structure that front-loaded an investment early, we've been able to significantly increase the amount of production lines the business operates from. We've also provided working capital to fuel these lines and fuel the increase in headcount. The net result of this is we've accelerated production output at a rate significantly quicker than if the company had been left to do it organically. The overall result of this is faster growth and a quicker route to stakeholder aspirations.

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