With help from Invest Northern Ireland’s Business Improvement Agent (BIA) programme, local tea producer Punjana has saved over £200,000 in operating costs.
The BIA programme enables companies to have a member of staff dedicated to introducing innovative, knowledge-led business improvement techniques. The post is funded jointly by the company and Invest NI for three years. It aims to achieve savings for the company of at least three times the BIA’s salary, for each year of the programme.
Production facilities at Punjana’s Belfast factory are state of the art and all Punjana packs are produced using the most advanced machinery in the world. However, the company was aware that maintaining Punjana’s position as a market leader meant ensuring that all its production and distribution processes met best practice standards.
“We identified five areas for improvement, including looking at staff management, automating certain processes and streamlining distribution methods,” says Ross Thompson, joint Managing Director of Punjana. “We’re delighted at the results of the exercise, which has produced savings in excess of the target set, through reducing haulier, material and labour costs.”
The Business Improvement Agent has also helped the company increase sales, by achieving British Retail Consortium (BRC) accreditation, a technical standard for companies supplying retailer branded food products.
“Gaining this internationally recognised certification has strengthened the Punjana brand and has enabled us to increase the value of our contracts with key customers,” says Mr Thompson.
Victor Jordan, Invest NI’s Director of Business Improvement Services, comments: “Punjana decided to embed continuous improvement in the company to ensure that it could keep pace with changing market and customer requirements. The result is a more cost conscious and effective workforce and a higher return on sales.“
Punjana’s participation on the Business Improvement Agent programme was part funded by the EU Programme for Peace and Reconciliation.