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Plastic Packaging: How connecting the plastic value chain will deliver long lasting changes

Plastic Sustainability Summit (3)

In Britain 44% of the population says reducing plastic is the number one priority for sustainable living. Quite rightly the environmental impact of plastic waste has become of vital importance for brands and consumers alike.

The Telegraph Sustainability Summit held on Thursday 21st March brought together leading brands to connect the plastic value chain to promote long lasting change and embrace the commercial opportunities to be gained from resource efficiency. Many big brands including H&M, Ikea, Sainsbury's and Braskem shared openly how their brands have evolved to be more resource efficient. Giorgina Waltier, Sustainability Manager at Swedish fashion brand H&M, explained to the summit H&M's stringent sustainability targets: by 2015, she said, H&M will use only recyclable, compostable and reusable plastic. At M&S the focus was on reducing plastic packaging from its food items, Louise Nichols, corporate head of food sustainability and packaging at M&S communicated a significant and short-term target set by the retailer to remove 1000 tonnes of plastic packaging from it's shelves within 12months. Head of Circular Economy, innocent drinks Caroline Reid, shared their journey to decouple the plastics they use from virgin oil sources and help towards the growing concern of global warming.

Overall, the message was that plastic has a purpose and is useful and has contributed to solving problems as well as protecting business assets. That said, more consideration must be given the source of the polythene material, utilise sustainable and renewable sources such as GreenPE as well as recycled content. Finally designing a product for recycling and improving recycling efforts to keep this valuable resource in the chain and out of the environment.

If you want to learn more about the topics discussed at the Plastics Summit, here are links to more content:


Closed Loop Recycling

The proposed UK plastic tax 'positive' but not without challenges

Bailer Image

In the October 2018 budget, Philip Hammond announced a plastic tax to help tackle plastic waste. The government proposed to introduce a new tax on the manufacture and import of plastic packaging which contains less than 30% recycled plastic in the hope to transform the economics of sustainable packaging.

Zoe Brimelow, Brand Director at Duo UK was asked to give her view on the government's plans by Packaging News "The announcement of a plastic tax is a positive step towards making the polythene packaging industry more sustainable. However, it's not without its challenges for manufacturers.

"Plastic is resource-efficient, flexible, hygienic, durable and lightweight, and other materials don't match those functional properties, but there is growing concern surrounding its impact on the planet. As an industry, before the new tax law was introduced, positive changes had already started to make packaging more sustainable. At Duo, we have our own polythene closed loop recycling facility where we recycle waste polythene scrap created in our manufacturing process and also waste from our customers sites. The recycled content is used to manufacture new products reducing dependency on virgin products used. Together with our clients we have re-engineered products, eradicated excess material and a vast number of our clients have started to segregate waste polythene on-site and return it to us to be recycled and made into new packaging through our closed-loop-recycling programme.

"A challenge we're facing is that much of packaging waste is heavily contaminated which makes it difficult to recycle. For example, paper labels can result in a low-grade recycled pellet which limits what new product it can be used for and the inclusion rate without effecting the performance of the product.

"As a leader within the industry, we're doing all we can to keep valuable material in the economy and out of the environment. We are already geared up for this change - we've invested in the relevant equipment to ensure that we can keep waste material to a minimum and recycle where possible. The stumbling blocks will be contaminated plastic and whether the industry can source enough good quality feedstock to consistently meet 30 per cent inclusion in all new products."

*Featured in Packaging News November 2018

Are Re-usable Shopping Bags really reducing the Environmental Impact?

In October 2015 England introduced a single-use plastic carrier bag charge to reduce the amount of single use bags in circulation and encourage people to reuse bags,

Since the introduction of the charge the number of 'single-use' plastic bags given out by retailers has dropped from 140 to 25 for the average person each year*. In response to the introduction of the charge many retailers have introduced 'bags for life' in a range of styles and prices at till points.

But just how many times does a 'bag for life' need to be re-used to provide the same environmental performance of the average (LDPE) single use carrier bag?

RECYC QUEBEC, and The Danish Environment Agency have carried out independent studies to assess how many times a 'reusable' bag should be reused to provide the same environmental performance of the average LDPE carrier bag and the results have proved very interesting.

According to their findings, a non-woven polypropylene bag must be 6 times, woven polypropylene 5 times and cotton bags 52 times to equal the environmental impact of an average 17-micron carrier bag used just once. How many times do you re-use your 'bags for life'?

Shopping Bag Infographic

The conventional 'single use' plastic bags have several environmental and economic advantages; they are thin, light and the production requires little material and energy. Not only that, conventional 'single use' plastic bags can be re-used and are commonly re-used for bin liners. This second use avoids the production and purchase of bin liners reducing overall material use.

Top take always from the research:

  • Re-use all styles of carrier bags (even the ones dubbed as single use!) as many times as possible before disposal.
  • Prioritise functionality when designing your packaging product. The main aim is to maximise volume and weight holding capacity whilst minimising the amount of material needed and minimise the final weight of the carrier bag.
  • Recycle where possible at the end of use.





Why we say no thank you to degradable additives


Plastic bags that feature an oxo-degradable additive when exposed to certain conditions degrade may seem like the obvious choice when it comes to plastic pollution, but, are they really that environmentally friendly?

On the 19th July the BBC reported the EU Parliament passed a directive preventing oxo-degradable products being described as biodegradable and are considering a total ban.

Richard Thompson, a professor of marine biology at Plymouth University was sceptical about the technology and conducted an experiment to test the claims. He buried oxo-degradable bags underground and suspended them in the sea and monitored the results for more than two years. The results concluded that yes, the plastic degrades but, into tiny micro-plastics, which are released into the environment adding to the 5 trillion micro-plastics that are already affecting our oceans.

In our 30 year history, Duo has been introduced to many degradable additives but, we have yet to find one that doesn't compromise the recycling chain. Demand for products with recycled content is on the increase, fossil reserves are under pressure and global warming is a growing concern. Recycling and re-using this valuable material helps keep polythene in the chain and out of landfill and contributing positively towards to areas of concern.

So, what's the best use for polythene after it's been used? We believe using it again and again and again. Sending polythene to landfill is heart breaking to us. Our UK closed loop recycling system is hungry for polythene scrap to feed the demand for products made from recycled content. We want your waste and we'll even pay you to take it away. Find out more about our closed loop recycling system here



Closed-loop nappies and bio-microbeads: the best new green innovations

Edie Image _May 2018

As featured on Edie.net on 11th May 2018

A number of eye-catching and potentially transformational innovations have emerged that could help businesses and nations deliver on resource efficiency, low-carbon transitions and combat climate change. Here, edie rounds-up six of the best.

Companies like AB InBev and Unilever have highlighted how sustainable products are creating value and opportunities for those willing to embrace them. Innovation is a difficult area to navigate, but as this round-up highlights, the benefits could usher in an unprecedented transition to the low-carbon economy.

With this in mind, this week's round-up covers a variety of ideas, concepts, products and systems that could help nations and businesses accelerate sustainability commitments.

Brick by Dirty Brick

Away from his Tesla and SpaceX escapades, Elon Musk has been investing in high-speed electric transport infrastructure. Musk's Boring Company has outlined plans to dig tunnels below Los Angeles to enable this transport, and it seems the construction of this process will lead to some low-carbon benefits.

On Twitter this week, Musk noted that the Boring Company would use the dirt from the tunnel digging to create bricks for low-cost housing. The plans have since been confirmed by Bloomberg, with a company spokesperson claiming "there will be an insane amount of bricks".

While Musk has outlined the plans to sell the bricks, he also noted the future Boring Company offices and even some part of the tunnel could replace concrete constructions with the bricks - delivering a lower carbon footprint while creating a second life for the construction waste of the tunnel. No information is available on how many bricks could be created.

Marine micro-miracles

As of January 2018, UK companies are prohibited from producing products that contain " rinse-off microbeads", due to the damage they cause to marine life. Now, researchers at the University of Bath believe that a biodegradable alternative could not only halt this damage, but actually reverse some of it.

As described in the journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering,  the researchers have developed microbeads made of cellulose found in plants, algae and even shellfish. Despite originally testing how cellulose could be used to make electronics more recyclable, the researchers soon found that by dissolving cellulose and forcing the solution through pores in glass membranes, they could create a microbead alternative.

Some of these biodegradable beads could be used to absorb pollution or the chemicals in sunscreen, according to the journal, both of which impact marine health. The research team are now investigating how the beads interact with ingredients in washes and creams.

You got mail!

Single-use plastic packaging is undoubtedly a hot topic at the moment, having been the focus of this year's Earth Day and the subject of much government debate. In a bid to help big-name online brands phase out flexible plastic bags, packaging firm Duo UK is has created mailing bags made from sugarcane as a sustainable alternative.

The Manchester-based company, which makes mailing bags for brands including JD Sports, Tesco and JD Williams, claims it is the first UK manufacturer to produce mailing bags from GreenPE. While traditional plastic bags are made from polythene derived from fossil fuels, GreenPE is a biopolymer produced using renewable sugarcane. It is chemically identical to traditional plastic and, because sugarcane captures and stores CO2 from the atmosphere as it grows, it is technically carbon-negative.

Duo UK estimates that if all mailing bags produced in the UK were made of GreenPE, the nation's carbon footprint could be reduced by 46,000 tonnes of CO2 annually - the equivalent of the average passenger plane flying around the world 10,000 times.

Nappy Hour

The global market for nappies is booming and is set to be worth more than £55bn by 2020 - but biodegradable nappies can take up to 50 years to decompose in landfill sites, while their non-biodegradable counterparts may require 500 years to fully break down.

A team of researchers at Taiwan's Chung Hua University have created a machine capable of recycling almost 100kg of used nappies per hour using less water than the average toilet. It works by cleaning the nappies in disinfectant before splitting them into plastic, fluff fibres and absorbent material. The used water is then recycled onsite while the clean materials can be sent away for re-incorporation into new household items like plastic bags, sanitary towels and cardboard boxes. The estimated daily carbon emission from this process is 35.1 kg of CO2.

The researchers are now planning to build a larger machine, capable of processing 10 tonnes of nappies each day. If this prototype is successful, it could be rolled out at hospices, care homes, hospitals and nurseries across Taiwan.

Drink your food waste problems away

Supermarkets have been criticised for contributing to the UK's food waste mountain by sticking rigidly to quality specifications, and routinely rejecting "ugly" or misshapen, but edible, fruit and vegetables grown by suppliers. What's more, research suggests that most supermarket customers are only willing to buy imperfect fruit and vegetables at a significant discount.

So, in a bid to reduce the amount of 'ugly' produce going to landfill, two of Tesco's major suppliers have created a range of new juices made from apples, beetroot, strawberries and watermelons that fail to meet produce specifications.

The range is launching this month and will be sold in 350 Tesco stores across the UK, with Waste Not estimating that the juices will save around 3.5 tonnes of produce from being wasted within the first 12 weeks of sale.

House of virtual cards

Of the many plastic items going to landfill, credit cards are often overlooked. They are typically made from PVC and outlive their usefulness after three years, so lending startup Affirm has created a plastic-free credit card alternative which only exists online.

The startup, founded by PayPal co-founder Max Levchin, is targeting millennials with its new card-free micro-lending programme, which sees customers either signing up on the Affirm website for financing or applying for it at the checkout on some online stores before making monthly repayments.

Affirm recently announced it was making the programme available through Apple Pay - a step which essentially makes it a credit card provider without physical cards as it enables customers to tap their iPhones for their payments in brick-and-mortar stores. This could help reduce the amount of PVC credit cards produced worldwide each year, which currently stands at roughly six billion according to the International Card Manufacturers Association.


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Delivery & Returns: Are you meeting customer expectations?

Drapers Image

As featured in Drapers Report Chapter 6: Getting Sustainability Wrapped up

The only consistent thing in fashion retailing is change. Today retailers find themselves being led by, rather than leading, the consumer, who dictates how they want to browse, buy, receive and return. You might be meeting customer expectations now, but are you looking ahead and asking, 'how will I meet those needs tomorrow?'

Duo were asked to share their expertise in Drapers exclusive report which identified some of the business critical trends online retailers need to know about, here are the highlights:

Consumers are increasingly aware of the environmental impact of their purchases. A 2015 study by research company Nielsen of 30,000 consumers in 60 countries revealed that a brand's commitment to the environment has the power to sway the likelihood of a purchase for 45% of consumers.

As scale of distribution of online orders grows, online retailers are under pressure to try to reduce the environmental impact of their online order packaging - as required by their corporate social responsibility commitments. Aside from the volume, type and durability of the packaging needed for home delivery and returns, they are also concerned with the potential waste produced by each order. Consequently, CSR action plans and changes to online order packaging are being put into force.

At the beginning of the supply chain are the packaging companies, who work closely with online fashion and lifestyle retailers to ensure their packaging is sustainable and reaches environmental goals, without impacting processes and productivity.

"Environmental goals differ, depending on the brand's goals, whether reducing waste to landfill, reducing carbon footprint, encouraging customers to re-use packaging, or reducing the volume of packaging used to distribute their products," says Zoe Brimelow, Brand Director for packaging company Duo UK. She adds that a defined environmental target or focus and a team engagement plan often attribute to goals being achieved.

Packaging for online orders should be functional and durable and now thanks to innovations in packaging materials it is possible to also minimise an etailer's environmental footprint. 

Zoe Brimelow explained,"Key innovations in the packaging industry are those that don't pollute the waste stream and [are] easy innovations for companies to adopt. The environment is an emotive topic that can create deeper, loyal relationships between consumers and brands"

Here are the latest innovations in sustainable packaging which will help your brand achieve its sustainability goals.

GreenPE - A sustainable alternative to oil-based polythene, created from sugarcane, can be manufactured in the same way as polythene and is 100% sustainable, 100% renewable and 100% recyclable.

100% Recycled Packaging Material - Made using UK scrap polythene that would otherwise be sent to landfill, the recycled product range is completely odour neutral meaning it can be used to distribute porous products like clothing

Closed Loop Recycling - There is a huge demand for recycled polythene but there's also a shortage of waste material so we've made it easier than ever to reduce, reuse and recycle using our UK - Based closed loop recycling system.

Delighting today's shoppers is no mean feat, but retailers who transform their delivery and returns processes - with convenience at the heart - are those who will have the most success.


For the latest innovations in sustainable packaging visit DuoGreen

Drapers, the number one source for breaking news, business advise and expert analysis for the fashion industry.

To read the full report, Delivery & Returns: Are you meeting customer expectations click here


Source * http://guides.drapersonline.com/4341.guide

Life at Duo

Nikita Apprentice

Duo Digital Marketing Apprentice Nikita Briggs revealed to the Manchester Evening News what life is like at Duo, why she choose a career in the manufacturing industry and gives her advice about what it takes to become a Digital Marketing Apprentice.

What made you want to get into this line of work? 

When the time was creeping closer to making a decision about whether to go to university or to get a job I decided to be proactive and look for work experience to help with my decision. I approached my neighbour, Anthony Brimelow, as I knew he was a Director at Duo and handed him my CV to consider me for a work experience placement. Anthony was always so passionate and enthusiastic when telling me about Duo, he changed my pre-conceived idea about what manufacturing is like. When I visited Duo for the first time, there was a real buzz about the place and couldn't have been further from my original perception of manufacturing.

How long have you been doing it? How long with this company? 

In August 2014 I started my work experience placement and in September 2015 I was become a full time member of staff as Duo's first Digital Marketing Apprentice. 

How did you get the job? Can you remember your interview?

I started out on a work experience placement - I was only 17 so I was very green! I remember being really nervous on my first day in the office because it was all so new and I'd never really been in a professional environment before. I never really had a formal interview as I worked across a range of different office departments until I came to marketing, which is where I found my calling! 

Give a two-sentence summary of what your job involves

As Duo's Digital Marketing Apprentice, I help to create fresh, new and creative marketing content to share with our clients and attract new customers to help grow the business. I produce reports that analyse the success of our marketing efforts and make suggestions to keep improving and build on our successes.

What's the most interesting thing you've done at work this week?

It's a really busy time for us at the moment as we've just launched the world's first carbon negative mailing bag and we did a big PR push about it last week so this week has mostly been spent responding to the hundreds of tweets and messages we've been receiving from people on Twitter and enquiries via our website! I get a real buzz when it's busy like this and with us doing something so positive for the environment it really feels like we're part of a massive global shift towards more sustainable packaging - it's exciting! 

What do you love about your job? 

I love how enthusiastic everybody is, it's honestly infectious and really makes a difference to your day when you're surrounded by positivity. I also love that as one of only 7% of women carrying out an apprenticeship in manufacturing, I am hopefully helping to carve the way for more females to consider this fast moving and progressive industry. 

And what do you hate about your job? 

There's nothing I hate but it can be hard to switch off from anything social media related as we're surrounded by it all the time - I could probably benefit from a little less screen time! 

What qualifications, skills and personal qualities do you need for the job?

You need to be able to communicate really well and have a natural flair for writing and creating interesting content and a genuine interest in continuous learning as marketing is fast pace and is changing constantly. In terms of qualifications for an apprenticeship you usually just need 5 GCSEs or equivalent including maths and English.

Any advice for those wishing to join the profession? 

Be prepared to work hard and be prepared to fall in love with the manufacturing industry. Get stuck in and don't be afraid of doing something wrong if you're learning on the job like I have - as long as you learn from your mistakes you can't go wrong! 

Source: Manchester Evening News 11/05/2017






H&M's 'Conscious' effort keeps clothing in the loop and out of landfill

Last year 350,000 tonnes of used clothing ended up in landfill and a huge 95% could have been reworn or recycled. This is estimated to be worth £100 million of clothes going to landfill.

Global fashion giant H&M have launched their strategy 'Towards 100% Circularity' to create a better future for fashion. One strand towards achieving their vision is to extend a garments life and send zero waste to landfill. Fabric recycling is achievable using a closed loop recycling system and is arguably the best option for garments than can no longer can be used. H&M have successfully used 20% recycled fibres without the loss of quality or durability in their range 'Conscious'.

H&M Conscious Collection

What is Closed Loop Recycling?

Closed loop recycling is the process where waste is returned back to its original raw form and this recycled material is then used to make a new product.

This recycling process is used to recycle many different types of material from fabric to polythene packaging. At Duo we're committed to creating a future where it's easier than ever for companies to close the loop when it comes to their waste polythene packaging. To achieve our vision, we invested in a polythene closed loop recycling system. Demand for packaging made from recycled content is on the increase as companies are actively adopting a more sustainable business model, however, there is a still a shortage of waste polythene. We've made it easier than ever to reduce, reuse and recycle waste polythene by introducing a waste polythene collection service for our customers.

 Closed Loop Recycling Process Flow Diagram

 For more information about closed loop recycling please click here

Every year more than 2,500 tonnes, which is equivalent to 500 pallets of polythene scrap material, is recycled using Duo's closed loop recycling system. This results in 2,500 fewer tonnes of polythene waste going to landfill and less oil used for polyethylene production!

Thanks to polythene closed loop recycling it has been possible to produce 100% recycled content mailing bags - the perfect solution for companies looking for an economical, sustainable option for their ecommerce packaging requirements. The quality and performance of a recycled content products compared to 'new' used to questionable. However, thanks to advances in recycling capabilities and better quality scrap, recycled material can now be used for critical applications such as mailing bags and can also include an intricate print design.

H&M's commitment towards 100% circularity is proving to be a great success as in 2015 12,000 tonnes of fabric garments were collected in their stores and recycled saving them from a destiny in landfill - that's equivalent to more than 60 million t-shirts! H&M also produced 1.3 million garments which were made using closed loop material - that's an increase of over 300% more garments than in 2014.

We're committed to helping promote sustainable alternatives and reduce our own and our customers environmental impact. In 2015 we launched DuoGreen as a platform to celebrate new environmental innovations and to share ideas to help packaging users achieve their environmental goals.

Be inspired and learn how packaging can help you to achieve your environmental goals visit DuoGreen.

National Apprenticeship Week 2016

National Apprenticeship Week 2016

My Digital Marketing Apprenticeship in Manufacturing

By Nikita Briggs

National Apprenticeship week is designed to celebrate apprenticeships, traineeships and the positive impact they have on individuals, businesses and also the wider economy. The theme for the week is 'Rise to the top!' This means focusing on progression and opportunity to show you how apprenticeships can make you rise to the top and gain skills whilst experience also.

Marketing is truly where my passion and enthusiasm is and I am fortunate that Zoe Brimelow the Brand Director at Duo UK gave me the opportunity to 'rise to the top' and become a Digital Marketing and Social Media Apprentice. For Duo UK digital marketing is an integral part of our strategy to increase brand awareness in new markets and promote our products and services. Digital Marketing and Social Media is changing every day and although at first some people may not see the connection with manufacturing, technology is very much at the heart of modern manufacturing.

I loved the idea of working in the manufacturing industry, and I have been well and truly inspired by everyone I've met and I truly believe it's a great and rewarding industry to work in. However, only 7% of engineering and manufacturing apprenticeships are filled by women and I want to bring more awareness of the great apprenticeships and careers available for women in manufacturing and engineering.

What I love about my apprenticeship is that I am gaining skills on my course that I bring back an implement at work plus I am also learning more skills on the job. Apprenticeships enable businesses to grow their skill base which can result in increased profits, lower prices and better products. My apprenticeship is with The Juice Academy where I study a day every two weeks, this gives me the opportunity to network with other apprentice's and the academy staff are there for any advice I need. The academy also informs me of lots of events to attend to help my development, one of which was the North West Young Apprentice Ambassador Network Conference. The event was held at UK Fast and during the day we heard inspiring speeches from Olympic athletes, business leaders and apprentices about their achievements and received some invaluable advice. I am now a proud North West Young Apprenticeship Ambassador. To become a North West Young Apprenticeship Ambassador (NWYAA) you had to be passionate about apprenticeships and be keen to tell young people and employers about the benefits, also most importantly telling them about your own experience of becoming an Apprentice.

An unfortunate common view many people still have is that apprenticeships are second option and not as credible as other career paths. This is not true at all. Apprenticeships are available in 1500 job roles covering more than 170 industries, including manufacturing. As an apprentice you are rising to the top and becoming who you want to be, this is true of my experience and I would encourage anyone to consider an apprenticeship as a way forward to achieving their career goals.

Retailers 'must embrace technology'

Insider Breakfast


Retailers that don't take an omni-channel approach and use modern technology face becoming obsolete, according to delegates at Insider's Changing the Face of Retail Breakfast.

The event at Manchester's Imperial War Museum North was attended by more than 130 people.

Gareth James is the chief executive of Chester-based Intilery and previously worked for MoneySupermarket. His new business uses technology to track customer journeys in real-time both online and offline at every touchpoint.

He said: "Retailers will now be able to fulfil the individual needs of every customers across any channel [online, call centre, in-store, in-app, email, social, etc] whilst being able to be competitive in the retail landscape.

"Customers now expect this level of service by default."

Ian Walker, managing director of Wigan-based 3P Logistics, which works with a number of retailers and has 4.5 million units in stock, added that third-party logistics was creating "virtual entrepreneurs" who never needed to touch the products.

He said: "We'll take goods in from overseas, we'll store them, process the orders and deliver them through the normal delivery network. We're processing about 2,000 consignments a day.

"We have to be regimental. We have a 99.7 per cent approval service level. We do that because we embrace technology. You can't afford negative feedback."

Matthew Williamson, a real estate partner and head of retail and leisure at Weightmans, said there was no denying the migration to online shopping had damaged town centres. He argued that the advent of things like next-day delivery had raised the ante in terms of supply chain requirements.

"Consumers are driving this," he said. "People aren't prepared to wait.

"Look at Amazon Prime Now - you can get your goods delivered within an hour. Just think of the infrastructure and the distribution network that needs to go into that service.

"You could say none of this is an issue if retailers and their logistics providers can charge for it but of course there needs to be a cost somewhere in the supply chain in order to service it."

Kerry Wright is the marketing director of Purple, which spotted a gap in the market for public Wi-Fi.

She said: "There are three parts to the product - access, getting people online, analytics - providing insightful reports back to the business about the data that's being collected, and action - ways for the business to take meaningful action from that data. We like to call Purple an 'intelligent spaces platform'.

"Examples of how technology has changed how people shop include omni-channel shopping [eg the rise of click-and-collect), the ability to price check or 'showrooming' changing pricing models, social influence on product [eg Instagram], mobile payments. What's starting to come next is digital engagement as opposed to human.

"But technology has also changed how retailers operate."

Robert Brigham, managing director of Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports & the Snowboard Asylum, said online retail only accounted for 10 per cent of sales. He said: "It's still a very touchy feely market. We're trying to do more. Loyalty is a huge part of what we've got planned for the future.

"We're not doing 'spend = points' because that's Tesco but we're trying to be clever about it. That could include random acts of kindness. For example if you buy a Spider jacket that could cost £600 we might send you the matching Spider hat for free."

Asif Hamid is the chief executive of Birkenhead-based the Contact Company, which works for a variety of retailers and sees itself as part of the shopping journey.

He said: "We're the non-facing side of the brand. We work with the likes of River Island, Sainsbury's, Superdrug, Argos and the Great Little Trading Co and we are an extension of their branded proposition.

"We're integrated. Retail is constantly changing because of technology."

Meanwhile, technology specialist UKFast provides the platform online for all kinds of companies to run websites, emails and applications that make their business work. Managing director Jonathan Bowers said that it works with a lot of retailers, with website speed being increasingly critical.

"One thing we discovered back in 2009, that still remains extremely relevant now, is that speed plays a huge role in relation to success on the internet," he explained.

"Nobody likes to queue so speed should be considered alongside conversion techniques, search engine optimisation, pay-per-click and email marketing as a crucial part of turning visitors into customers."

Zoe Brimelow (pictured) is the brand director of £25m-turnover company Duo UK, which manufactures three million plastic mailing bags a week and works with the likes of JD Williams, JD Sports, Tesco and ASOS.

She said: "Perception of postal packaging has changed, companies used to see this as nothing more than protection and opted for the lightest, most robust material that was functional and fast to pack outbound goods into.

"However, now design enhancements like carry handles, twin glue lines and engaging branding that captures the attention of passers-by as well as the shopper has transformed the mailing bag from a practical item to a marketing tool."

The breakfast was sponsored by 3P Logistics, UKFast and Weightmans.

As Featured in Insider Magazine

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