From the 1970s

Chequer Foods (now known as CustomPack) was a sachet packing company based in Hounslow, Middlesex. In 1971, it was bought by the Autobar Federation, owned by Ray Richards, its prime function was to manufacture product for the largest company in the group, which was Autobar Food Services. To this end, it had no sales team, although it did supply one or two outside companies such as Trent Marketing, who came on board via the Autobar sales team.

In 1981, Ray Richards bought two more companies whose products were sold through AFS, they were Essonia Syrups in Bradford, run by Bevis Corbet, and a vending company in Birmingham, run by Peter Llewellyn. All three companies were merged and moved to Telford with Stuart Thompson as MD, Peter Llewellyn as Sales Director and Bevis Corbet as a production manager. Soon after a fourth company was added which made sachets in the Isle of Man, this was integrated into Telford, where its production director, Tony Kryite, was installed as CFL’s Production Director. The fourth member of the board was Finance Director, Mike Griffin.

Kuwaiti Investment Office

In 1982, Ray Richards sold out to The Kuwaiti Investment Office, who installed Trevor Parker as MD, our main outside customers at this time were Nurden & Peacock (now Nisa), for whom we blended tea, and McDonald’s, who bought sugar sachets from us.

In late 1983, the board decided that being so dependent on AFS was not viable and, thus, bought Trentpak from its existing customer, Trent Marketing, and recruited a ready-made sales force from within the ranks of AFS, which started work on July 1st 1984, allowing CFL to grow a larger wholesale base. After initial losses, due to the increased overhead of the sales team, the company soon moved back into profit where it remained for many years.

The success of Chequer Foods encouraged the Kuwaiti’s to invest, initially in new sachet packing (Ropak) tea & in-cup plant, all laid out in a reconfigured floor plan.

Later, funds were made available for the adoption of the new style “narrow isle” warehousing system, which was needed to cope with the increase in demand, which also necessitated the acquisition of our first articulated HGV’s, whose livery won a trade award for the best design in the late 80’s.

It is at this time that the acquisition of Trentpak started to play a significant part in the life of Chequer Foods. Until now Trentpak, based in Southminster, had been a highly profitable division supplying in-room beverage kits to hotels such as Marriotts and Holiday Inn and holiday camps including Butlin’s, Pontin’s and Warners, and now the opportunity arose to supply twelve of Her Majesty’s Prisons, with tea-boats. The experiment was a success and, gradually over a period of a couple of years, the whole estate adopted this way of providing prisoners with beverages and sauces. Later, breakfasts were added to the mix and, today, the prison estate is one of Chequer’s largest customers.

As the 90’s moved on, Chequer took advantage of the tough economic times by acquiring a Manchester-based in-cup manufacturer called Flavorpac and then, at the turn of the century, we repeated the operation, buying Sabre in Southampton. Sabre was the second Southampton company to come under Chequer’s influence.

Trevor Parker then joined Stuart Thompson, with Mike Griffin stepping up to the plate, sadly he became seriously ill, necessitating two short-term, but highly prestigious, incumbents taking over, in the form of David Hobbs, Group MD, and Andrew Bristow who went on to become a former CEO of the Autobar Group. Derek Durrant was the long term replacement, followed in due course by Richard Kolbe and Peter Holdway, who in 2008 was succeeded by Ralph Taylor as Managing Director.

From 2015…

And today the dynamic of our business has changed and developed over the years and we recognise the time has come to evolve further.

Now known as CustomPack, from 1st June 2015, we have re-launched the company with a name change to market our capabilities better. We re-invent ourselves often to find solutions for business partners who often task us to ‘custom pack’ their products. We are well-placed in the marketplace with a high level of expertise reviewing numerous product types for both food and non-food applications.

We are NOT a food company – we ARE a single portion packing business. Our name will reflect better what we do. We are excited about the future and very much hope you will be part of it.