Strategies for growth

Poonam Gupta OBE, believes in the GB label

Inverclyde-based PG Paper sells paper products in more than 55 countries and boasts a turnover of more than £35 million. Gupta, who founded the business in 2003 and made her first sale 10 months later, describes the state of play for business in the UK

By Dan Matthews

How would you sum up conditions for businesses in your sector?

The paper industry is growing, though there is a decline in segments such as graphical paper because of digitalisation. This is counterbalanced by a growth in packaging, labelling and hygiene papers.

How would you describe the environment for businesses in Scotland?

The infrastructure in Scotland is very pro-business with its airport connections and seaports – travel and exports are very easy.

There are many good organisations across the country that are willing to help businesses in the early stages of their journey, whether it is financial or mentoring and advice. I found this support invaluable when taking on such a huge commitment. 

What about the wider UK?

The UK is a five-star place to do business. It was such a simple place to launch and grow PG Paper. Everything is so transparent and easy to follow, and I received so much support and guidance along the way.

That said, I don’t think it matters where in the world you are doing business from; the basics are still the same. It’s more about the effort you put into contacting the people you want to do business with and how to move from one lead to the next.

How well do you think the ‘GB label’ is received overseas?

Britain has a really good reputation in the business world. The GB label is very well received and highly respected. There is a certain goodwill towards Britain that we definitely benefit from.

You have an international business: have you noticed a change in attitudes towards the UK in the past 12 months?

Internationally, people are just curious about Brexit and how it is affecting both our lives and our businesses. More often than not, we are asked if there will be a second Scottish independence referendum. Overall, I have not seen any major change in people’s attitudes towards the UK since the referendum.

What is your key challenge as a UK-based business?

For us particularly, it is finding multilingual people. This is not such a big problem in Europe as most Europeans speak a range of languages. When it comes to conducting business in other countries we are almost centrally located in terms of time zone, which often means longer working hours. That’s another challenge, but it is still very doable.

Is finding the right skills an issue and how do you entice the best people?

Sometimes it’s hard to find suitable people because of Scotland’s small population, so we have to look farther afield.

A good working environment and a nice office space always help to attract good people and we are well placed on that basis. In recent years we’ve found it relatively easy to find good brains because the company is doing well. People want to work in successful organisations.

What are your hopes and fears for the UK economy?

The UK is a strong country and has one of the biggest economies in the world. I hope it continues to grow, but manufacturing needs to be promoted more. We need to see more manufacturing companies because it isn’t viable to run an economy on its service sector alone.

My hope for PG Paper is that we continue to grow. There are always new markets to target and new ideas to put into practice – so the future is bright!

Connect with Poonam online @p_gupta01

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