Manufacturing in the UK

I am writing this in September 2020, updating the blog in the few minutes I can steal between phone calls, e-mails, text messages and the on going, day-to-day management of our factory here in Harlow, Essex.

To say that work is ‘manic’ at the moment would be an understatement! It’s caused by a very old economic problem – an increase of demand versus a capacity that has decreased the ability to supply. The pandemic has affected all of our lives, to a greater or lesser extent, and the economic fall out is still to be measured. We are seeing huge changes in the packaging industry.

Increased Demand

One of the major factors that has lead to an increase in demand is the massive shift towards online products. With high street stores closed for the best part of three months, and now open with restrictions of their own, sales on the high street are considerably lower than before the virus. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that the amount of goods sold fell by 18.1% in April, for example, a decline graphically shown below:

Retail sales

ONS deputy national statistician for economic statistics Jonathan Athow said: “The effects of Covid-19 have contributed to a record monthly fall in retail sales of nearly a fifth.” He added that “online shopping has again surged as people purchased goods from their homes amid lockdown.”

A significant amount of our packaging is used for online sales, specifically ‘hat’ boxes or hamper boxes like the ones below:

hand-made hamper boxes from the UK

This boom in online shopping has resulted in a number of our existing customers ordering considerably more packaging from us as they seek to replace lost high street sales. Additionally we are very happy to say that new customers are approaching us seeking a way to pack their products differently for the online market.

Another factor that is increasing demand has been the extreme uncertainty the business world suffered through April to June

which led to many businesses NOT placing orders overseas, particularly the Far East. This meant that those companies missed the window when such orders could be placed.  Consequently, these firms have been forced to look to the UK for their packaging requirements.

manufacture and social distancing in UK indusrtry

All of which is great news for a specialist-packaging manufacturer you’d think? Well….

Decreased Capacity

Unfortunately not entirely

Despite having adequate premises the space is still limited and what we do is extremely skilled work predominantly done by hand – hand assembly, hand wrapping and hand finishing which requires space for individual staff – space which is now at a premium with the required social distancing and other safe-working practices in place. We can’t just work extra shifts either as we would be spreading our skilled and experienced staff too thin, nor can we take on as many new staff as we might normally do.

At risk of being accused of ‘humbug’ Christmas is on its way – even if it will be a very different Christmas than previous years. Some UK businesses, GWD being one, are not going to be able (at such short notice) to crank up their very specialist production facilities to meet demand, especially when coupled with the restrictions of safe working practices.

Interesting times indeed.

– Noel.

Noel Greenwood is the Managing Director of GWD Ltd, the designers and manufacturers of presentation and promotional packaging.  You can reach him on (01279) 416093 or at the company’s website:

A Luxury Advent Calendar for ‘Lush’

We realise it’s only September and this might seem a little early to be talking about Advent calendars, but for the brands creating them for the festive season this is probably a bit late in the year!

Advent calendars have evolved and changed over the past decade. Being of a err, certain age, it’s easy to remember the examples we were given back in the 70s and 80s: tiny little things, poorly manufactured with cheap glittery ‘windows’ which always broke off and contained one mysterious lump of cheap chocolate.

Advent calendars are no longer just a gift for children. Nowadays, couples buy each other advent calendars containing miniatures of craft gin, whiskeys and even beauty products! A case in point is this stunning 24 day creation made for the high street brand ‘Lush

Luxury packaging for Christmas
Luxury packaging for Christmas

We have worked with Lush on several occasions before as detailed in this blog. Lush, as you may well know are an environmentally friendly company, who invest only in organic produce. They are carbon neutral and against animal testing. They were, not surprisingly, insistent that the packaging for their advent calendar met with their strict environmental policies (which was certainly not an issue with us). This meant that the product was entirely biodegradable and even forbade the use of magnetic closures – a recyclable, UK produced ribbon was sourced and used in their stead.

Please take a look at the video below – shot by Lush at our factory in Harlow, Essex, which shows some of the techniques we used in the construction of the packaging.

Advent Calendar

GWD Ltd are one of a very few companies in the UK who can carry out this standard of work. This project was in development for several months. Whilst the idea was conceived by Lush, it was GWD who developed it through a number of sampling phases. Taking their design and concept, GWD created a final product that not only looks fabulous, but works in a practical sense too.

One of the objectives was to create a product that could have a additional function too. Once Christmas has passed and all 24 of the gifts have been opened, the customer is left with a beautiful and functional box which can be used to store keepsakes or beauty products. We have touched on this in our blog before, notably ‘Primary and Secondary Packaging Functions’ . The recipient of the advent calendar is unlikely to throw away such a stylish item, particularly as it was constructed so as the internal boxes and dividers could be easily removed, making it simple to re-use.

The fact that the item is hence displayed prominently in the customer’s household for a number of years, is a very subtle form of marketing – a reminder of the brand and the quality of their products.

Christmas packaging made in the UK
Christmas packaging made in the UK

Only 500 Lush 2019 Advent calendars were created. We’re unsure when they eventually sold out but after being launched online 92 were sold within the first 18minutes!!

Noel Greenwood is the Managing Director of GWD Ltd, the designers and manufacturers of presentation and promotional packaging.  You can reach him on (01279) 416093 or at the company’s website:

It’s Hot Out There!

This blog post is being written at the end of July 2018, in the midst of a heat-wave with temperatures at 31C, and set to go even higher! It’s so difficult to recall how cold last winter was in heat like this.

Work, of course continues at pace here at GWD, regardless of the weather, and the design team and cardboard engineers remain extremely busy, including working on this years Christmas products!

Thinking of the heat though we were reminded of a particular piece of packaging that was designed to be kept in a fridge (for a limited time at least)!

Packaging for vials and test tubes
Packaging for vials and test tubes

We were commissioned by Bio-Rad Laboratories to create a small box to hold 24 small test tubes or vials that would be suitable to be stored in a fridge. Bio-Rad is an international company but we deal with the German office, and in particular with the R + D team, Custom Antibodies, Life Science Group.

It is important to note that cardboard is NOT suitable to be stored in very cold conditions indefinitely but it was suitable for the client’s purposes in this instance, as they were to be used to send samples to their clients and needed to be stored temporarily before they are despatched, kept refrigerated in transportation and then for a short while after arrival.

Specialist packaging for medical companies
Specialist packaging for medical companies

As you can see the box has a magnetic closure and is wrapped in laminated paper. This is crucial if the box is to survive in refrigerated conditions.

Practical packaging solutions
Practical packaging solutions

The two part foam inserts are made from Stratocell, an expanded polyethylene, which acts as an insulator and is suitable for use in refrigerated conditions, and has the added advantage of being recyclable (in a bottle bank). GWD have made these boxes for Bio-Rad Laboratories on at least three occasions – changing the original Velcro closure to a magnetic one after the first run.

Box makers. Essex
Box makers. Essex

We have done a few jobs for companies in the scientific sector and it’s an area where we believe our particular expertise in this kind of packaging has much potential.

If we can help you or your clients with any promotional or presentation packaging requirements, please do get in touch.

Noel Greenwood is the Managing Director of GWD Ltd, the designers and manufacturers of presentation and promotional packaging.  You can reach him on (01279) 416093 or at the company’s website:

Hang On To Your Hat!

Over the years we’ve created a number of bespoke packaging solutions for florists and occasionally even milliners. We continue to be one of a very few companies in the UK who have the ability to create circular ‘Hat’ boxes. What we also do, however, which is perhaps slightly less known, is that we create packaging in the shape of headwear as promotional packaging for events or special occasions.

round hat boxes
Round hat boxes

Top hats, such as the ones above created for The Ritz (London), are a firm favourite and give a great sense of panache and style for any promotional event. Normally these would be used for chocolates, but could be for any trinket or smaller product.

chocolate boxes UK
Chocolate boxes

We have recently created a number of cardboard ‘boaters’ for The Chocolate Shop in Sevenoaks

who specialize in fondants, truffles and high-end chocolate delights, and while in this instant the company themselves added the lovely touch of adding ribbons and decorations….

Presentation cardboard boxes
Presentation cardboard boxes

GWD can also offer this finishing service as with the personalised ribbon used on the top hat boxes above. As the top lid is removed one is left with a very stylish example of presentation packaging at it’s finest, with the contents displayed at their very best.


where can I get boxes made?
Where can I get boxes made?


We have been making these mortarboard hats (below) for many years, mainly for a couple of hotels in Oxford to celebrate student graduation season (and to promote themselves too, naturally)…


Packaging for graduation gifts
Packaging for graduation gifts


The small size has always contained chocolates, but on another occasion we were commissioned to make a larger version to house a bottle of champagne, as below.


special boxes for wine and chocolate
Special boxes for wine and chocolate


Boxes in the shape of hats can be a great way to draw attention to a product or reference a particular theme or subject, and as such we’re often asked to make them for a variety of different clientele.  Ascot, for example is particularly well known for the glorious array of hats that are on show. We created the jockey cap box – a great equestrian institution – for Royal Ascot back in 2013, as a chocolate box, pictured below.  This piece of packaging is ideal for hotels or other outlets in close proximity to racecourses – and indeed racecourses themselves – to use during the season.

amazing packaging solutions
Amazing packaging solutions

Noel Greenwood is the Managing Director of GWD Ltd, the designers and manufacturers of presentation and promotional packaging.  You can reach him on (01279) 416093 or at the company’s website:




Christmas Retail Packaging

It will surprise no one that Christmas plays a major role in the presentation packaging industry. For us, however, Christmas starts very early in the year! Companies creating advent calendars like the one below created for Prestat  will often send us their designs in May or June.

where can I get an advent calendar made?
“Where can I get an advent calendar made?”

Similarly, major brands like Lush will have their Christmas packaging planned and manufactured well in advance, for example the ‘Karma’ box below. Christmas, of course, is a massively important time for the retail sector as people purchase gifts, decorations, and supplies to celebrate. In retail the Christmas period is customarily defined as the six weeks up to December 24th – a period that traditionally sees c.18% of the annual retail spend. It isn’t surprising that companies make such an extra effort with their packaging for the Christmas season.

Semi-circular cardboard boxes UK
Semi-circular cardboard boxes UK

Here at GWD we’ve been creating Christmas packaging since the early 1990s, so there’s little we haven’t seen over the last twenty five years or so. Below, for example, is a selection of Christmas pudding boxes we made for Bettys (chocolatiers), The Dorchester Hotel and The RAC Club.

Circular boxes for presentation packaging
Circular boxes for presentation packaging

At GWD Ltd we remain one of the very few firms in the UK who can manufacture circular or semi-circular boxes, which really do help your product to stand out from the crowd.

Circular chocolate boxes manufacture uk
Circular chocolate boxes manufacture UK

The hamper box above, again created for Bettys, gives a fantastic first impression to the potential consumer. Surely anyone who has gone to such great lengths over their choice of presentation packaging simply MUST have a great product that they’re offering? The same can be said for this gorgeous Christmas ‘Chest’, created for another chocolatier….

Bespoke cardboard boxes for products
Bespoke cardboard boxes for products

….and also theses lovely chocolate boxes below in their different shapes and sizes. The workmanship that goes into these creations can be extremely complex and often time-consuming. That said our team of in-house designers and cardboard engineers have become extremely well versed in addressing complex packaging problems. If you have any questions regarding the feasibility of packaging designs for your product please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Cardboard engineering for boxes
Cardboard engineering for boxes

Christmas is a hugely important time in retail. If you are looking to make your product stand out for next Christmas season give GWD a call!

Noel Greenwood is the Managing Director of GWD Ltd, the designers and manufacturers of presentation and promotional packaging. You can reach him on (01279) 416093 or at the company’s website:

Packaging For Easter Gifts!

Think Easter and you probably think chocolate. Easter is a time of year when some of us take time out of work for (cold and rainy) family holidays and unbelievable chocolate overload. Who hasn’t regretted – at least once – the amount of chocolate eggs mindlessly scoffed over the bank holidays? Ever guilty of taking the leftovers into the office just to get rid? A resounding yes! After all, Easter is the biggest chocolate-selling period of the year following the over indulgence of Christmas…and rather astonishingly, this year Easter eggs went on sale in Tesco and Sainsbury’s (other supermarkets are available) on the FIRST of JANUARY!

Easter Egg Box from GWD
Easter Egg Box from GWD

But as you roll your eyes, think about how Easter presents itself as a superb marketing opportunity for B2B and B2C! A time to wow your customers and suppliers with beautifully presented and packaged edibles or alternatives to show them how much you appreciate their business and their support.

Single and multi Easter Egg Boxes
Single and multi Easter Egg Boxes

We Brits simply love chocolate, ranking 4th in the world just behind the finest chocolate makers in the world, Switzerland, Germany and Austria on consumption per capita. Most of us will eat around 9.5 kg of chocolate per year and at Easter time, we will purchase around 80 million chocolate eggs, generating a consumer spend of a whopping £299m. These eggs-travagant (apologies) sales make up 10 per cent of Britain’s annual spend on chocolate.

Easter egg box - clear square format
Easter egg box – clear square format

But of course, the buzz word is ‘moderation’. Dietitians have already warned us that most children (and us adults) will eat around 5 Easter eggs each as well as the delicious contents, easily doubling the recommended calorie intake resulting in rapid weight gain. And where does that leave today’s consumers who are health conscious, allergic or worse, who suffer from severe reactions to Easter egg ingredients? There’s no reason to leave your corporate clan or family loved ones out of the Easter excitement as our cardboard engineers can create sensationally bespoke and branded confectionary and gift packaging to meet your exact needs.

Easter egg box - clear round format
Easter egg box – clear round format

It’s no secret that plenty of people now give gifts rather than Easter eggs and while it might make traditionalists jump up and down about the true meaning of Easter, an actual non-edible keepsake gift will last longer and be a healthier choice than chocolate.

Easter gift boxes
Easter gift boxes

Sometimes the Easter gifts you choose for us to beautifully package may not be always be egg-shaped, but we are certain they will hatch out better things.



Noel Greenwood is the Managing Director of GWD Ltd, the designers and manufacturers of presentation and promotional packaging.  You can reach him on (01279) 416093 or at the company’s website: is ....

Presentation Packaging for Sporting Events

Sport continues throughout the year but this Summer seems particularly full of major events. From the Tour de France, Wimbledon, British Moto GP, Open Golf, The Ashes and many more, there are so many sports to either participate in or view throughout the summer. If you are holding a themed event of your own, are an active sponsor or are using Corporate Entertainment to promote your product or services then appropriate presentation packaging can add impressive, creative and memorable flair to the proceedings.

At GWD Ltd we offer the highest quality promotionalconfectionary and gift packaging; all three of which can be tailored to suit a sporting theme.

Why should I use Presentation Packaging?

Well, apart from the obvious opportunities of advertising and increasing Brand awareness and visibility it says that you’re a professional organisation. There is a psychological element here. A consumer looking upon a stunningly designed and packaged product will be likely to think as follows: If a company cares so much and has given so much thought to the presentation of it’s product in strongly suggests that it has given a similar amount of thought to the product itself. The time and care invested in the packaging must be representative of the care and belief that the Company have in the product itself. It shows that you are willing to invest in the customer experience, and insinuates that you are similarly willing to invest such time in the consumer himself. It breathes quality.

Jockey Cap packaging deigned for Royal Ascot
Jockey Cap packaging deigned for Royal Ascot

Our services, be they via promotional, confectionery or presentation packaging, exist to help you sell your product and enhance the value of your brand. Corporate or promotional packaging is our speciality.

How do I Find Presentation Packaging for my Product?

Fortunately you’re in exactly the right place! GWD were established in 1986 as manufacturers of bespoke and off-the shelf presentation packaging. We are not wholesalers: you are at source when you come to GWD. Our team or in-house designers and cardboard engineers will work closely with you and your designers to create the packaging, from the appropriate shape, colours, style and theme, resulting in boxes that truly represents the impression that you want to give to your product or brand. If you wish that to be associated with a particular sporting event you may be sponsoring or using for corporate entertainment that is possible too.

Round packaging such as this can be simply styled with a sport motif
Round packaging such as this can be simply styled with a sport motif

Our selection of shapes and sizes allows us to cater from football to cricket, and everything in between. Recently, we supplied a confectionary box in the shape of a jockey cap for the Jockey Club to use at the Royal Ascot, for example. Our circular packaging is perfect for cricket or football, oval boxes for Rugby (it’s the World Cup in England this year) or American football. More intricatley-designed, specialist shapes are also possible. Feel free to call or e-mail with any enquiries.

Bespoke hampers can be designed with your logo/brand and incorporate specific events too, if desired
Bespoke hampers can be designed with your logo/brand
and incorporate specific events too, if desired

Whilst we have some regular designs to choose from, our packaging is created from scratch. This allows you to create a feel that best suits your requirements. Whatever theme – sports related or otherwise – you choose, our presentation packaging can help your product truly stand out.

So, whether you are looking to create something simple or complex, here at GWD we pride ourselves in rising to the challenge and coming up with presentation packaging that best suits your needs. With so many sporting events to enjoy this summer why not add that personal flair and embrace some clever sporty packaging?


Noel Greenwood is the Managing Director of GWD Ltd, the designers and manufacturers of presentation and promotional packaging.  You can reach him on (01279) 416093 or at the company’s website:

Presentation Packaging for Unique Brands and Creative Designers

Presentation Packaging

At GWD Ltd (Harlow, Essex) we have been in the presentation packaging business for 25 years. That’s a LOT of experience. In that time we have created the packaging for thousands of clients, helping them to present and promote their brand to their customer base and drive sales.

Presentation packaging, heart shaped boxes
Presentation packaging, heart shaped boxes

We have worked with many large Companies over the years as well as a number of smaller, more unusual  brands who often provide the most challenging and interesting projects. One of these include an exclusive, one-off presentation package for a hugely famous, global rock star!

A number of our clients begin their search for presentation packaging with no clear idea how to proceed. In this case we are always happy to provide advice and guidance for them. However, larger companies will have a clearer idea and often have their own internal graphic designers or creative teams. In these circumstances we like to work closely in a consultative capacity with them to deliver the perfect presentation packaging for their product.

Presentation packaging, cardboard handbag
Presentation packaging, cardboard handbag

This collaborative approach is vital. GWD has experienced presentation packaging designers in-house and invaluable experience in the industry. Our designers and cardboard engineers are used to the inherent technical issues, which are involved in the creation of the packaging, difficulties which may be unfamiliar to graphic designers. Thus, it is advantageous that we talk to the customer’s designers at the earliest opportunity. There no point in a costly and time-consuming design being created, printed and approved which simply cannot then be manufactured commercially. By the same token there are many aspects that we can add to the design, different facets or possibilities, such as foil blocking, de-bossing or embossing which may not be immediately obvious to anyone outside of our industry.

Presentation packaging with drawers
Presentation packaging with drawers

GWD also offer an invaluable sampling service to bring your creation to life. Our design team can mock-up your creation to help add value and save unnecessary expenditure through deconstructing and reconstructing original designs. Sampling is often a valuable part of the  decision-making process.

Talking directly to designers can also reduce the risk of ‘Chinese whispers’ which can occur if there are too many stages, or too many interests in the development process. Messages can get confused if the chain of communication is too large.

So we would ask that your creatives talk to us directly before they embark on the design process. We can help in bringing any designs to life and manufacture them on your behalf.


The Managing Director of GWD LTD is Noel Greenwood.  He can be reached on (01279) 416093 or at Noel would be particularly pleased to hear from any designers or creatives working on promotional or presentation packaging.