European packaging leader to open state-of-art factory in Aix-Marseille

success story
European packaging leader to open state-of-art factory in Aix-Marseille
EP Group in Marseille - From left to right: Alexandre Minière, Director France, Ibrahim Majid, Managing Director of the group, David Smith, CFO of the group & Gayané Shahinyan, Inward Investment Advisor at Provence Promotion
19 October 2022 / Eco-industries, invest in provence

200 jobs should be created within five years

One of the world’s leading packaging companies, UK-based Euro Packaging Group (EP Group), is opening its first European factory in the Aix-Marseille-Provence metro area to serve the booming French market and to provide greener services across Southern Europe.

“In terms of geography and opportunity, the Aix-Marseille area in the south of France made the most sense,” says Ibrahim Majid, the managing director of EP Group. “The location enables us to serve the southern regions of Europe efficiently and because of the easy port access, we can import and export to North Africa, Asia, and the US. Being in Marseille is key for supporting our customers and we are confident we will grow very quickly here.”

The EP Group is based in Birmingham and provides packaging solutions to clients in more than 20 countries, including some of the world’s biggest brands such as McDonald’s and Carrefour supermarkets. The company already has manufacturing facilities in the United Kingdom, Asia, and the Middle East, and it now plans to invest €47 million to open its first continental European factory in Port-Saint-Louis-du-Rhône outside of Marseille. As the project ramps up, the investment should create 200 new jobs.

“We want this to be a state-of-the-art factory,” says Majid, who took over management of the EP Group three years ago and has overseen 30% growth in profitability. “As a packaging supplier, you need to think two or three years ahead and innovate to create the sustainable packaging that clients want.”

A family story, a business group focused on sustainable development

The EP Group is part of the business group that has been run by the Majid family for three generations. The packaging company was founded by Ibrahim Majid’s grandfather in 1974 and it became the European leader in the plastic bag market thanks to innovations such as vacuum packing shipments to lower transportation costs. During this growth period, the company opened a small office in Marseille to oversee European activities.

The green transition has been an important part of the EP Group’s success. The company has always been an environmental pioneer with initiatives such as special dispensers that reduced plastic bag consumption by 30% in supermarket produce departments. And when the environmental impact of disposable plastic bags became an issue, the EP Group was one of the first companies to introduce ultra-resistant paper packaging for food services companies and multi-use heavy duty bags for supermarkets.

“I think the environment is absolutely key to our continuation as humans and as a business we must be at the forefront of the environmental agenda,” says Majid. “One of the reasons we are so successful is that we go to our clients, we look at what they do, and then we offer the most environmentally friendly solution possible without raising their costs.”

To foster the innovation required for this approach, the group is also investing in other pioneering green projects. For example, it acquired a strategic stake in Eranova, a disruptive company based in Savoie that converts green algae into plastic resins thanks to its demonstrator facility in the Marseille area.

Innovation, one of the strategic levers of implementation

The EP Group’s focus on innovation is another reason the company chose the Marseille area as the site for its new factory. France has the best research tax credit in the OECD while the Aix-Marseille ecosystem supports industrial innovation with a wide network of research facilities and fab labs devoted to Industry 4.0, including the TEAM Henri-Fabre techno-centre. These advantages will help EP Group as they pursue new challenges, such as providing greener packaging for e-commerce.

“We are always looking at the next step in this journey,” says Majid. “For example, in five years, e-commerce will have reusable parcels and bags that can be used 50 times and the packaging will be adapted to specific products to save materials and shipping space.”

All of this is making the EP Group a model for British investment in the territory and a sign of the blossoming economic opportunities that exist between Birmingham and Marseille.

“Provence Promotion faced strong competition from several locations in the north of France to host the EP Group. One of these areas was even in exclusive negotiations during the Christmas period. But following a visit to Aix-Marseille metro in the spring, we emerged at the top of the list of locations. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Aix-Marseille and Provence Promotion invited Ibrahim Majid and other European prospects to the Mona Lisa exhibition held in Marseille. After hearing positive feedback from other business leaders present at the event, he reconsidered the decision and, in the end, we succeeded in turning the situation around,” says Bernard Deflesselles, President of Provence Promotion.

“With the support of the French national government, the Region Sud, and the Aix-Marseille Metropolis, Provence Promotion in collaboration with risingSUD was able to help close this deal. We are very proud that this project opted to locate here and we look forward to deepening the links between Birmingham and Aix-Marseille,” continues Bernard Deflesselles.