The Manufacturer Top 100, ten years on: an interview with Richard Lloyd, General Manager, The Park

Posted on 20 Mar 2023 by Joe Bush

In 2014, Richard Lloyd, General Manager of wine and spirits company, The Park, was named as an exemplar in the inaugural intake for The Manufacturer Top 100.

To mark the tenth year of the prestigious awards ceremony, we caught up with Richard to find out what’s been happening at The Park during the last decade and the impact his involvement in The Manufacturer Top 100 has had on the company.

Richard LloydThere have been some big milestones that have come from our relationship with The Manufacturer. We always attend The Manufacturer’s events as a group because it’s really important to hear different views and ideas and see different technology; we can discuss, meet people and work out what works for us.

We’ve introduced 3D printing of our spare parts, AI and machine learning, totally on the back of being at The Manufacturer events and meeting other suppliers and like-minded businesses. Our business has evolved with technology and for me, The Manufacturer and The Manufacturer Top 100 has provided that platform to help us grow.

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What was it like to be named as an exemplar in the first ever Top 100?

To be in the first year to be selected in the The Manufacturer Top 100 was amazing. I was then incredibly flattered to be in the exemplar group. It’s something I’ve always cherished. I’ve attended most years since and seen the calibre of people that have been added. It was just magical to be there from the start.

The Park
The Park in Bristol boasts the country’s largest wind turbine

What impact did it The Manufacturer Top 100 have on your career?

It’s always good to have some external recognition as a verification of your standing. Through my career I’ve taken on extra education; I have done a Master’s in Lean, which was really beneficial. Being an exemplar in the Top 100 also gives you an air of credence when you’re in a group of people and part of dynamic business discussions.

How has your career changed in the last decade?

I’ve become more of a generalist since being included in The Manufacturer Top 100. I’m lucky now that I have full supply chain end-to-end responsibility. These have evolved to where there’s more breadth and the huge advantage of that is having the skill set to be able to bring a group of different functions together and make sure they are optimised as a whole.

When you’re just looking after one function, you’re very focused on optimising that one area, and rightly so. But my career has now become one of building a leadership team and making sure we provide that end-to-end supply chain offering for our customers.

The Park
In recent years The Park has introduced 3D printing, AI and machine learning

How has the landscape of manufacturing changed in the last decade?

Our business has always been about understanding value in the eyes of the customer, and therefore shaping our supply chain or our offering to meet that.

Sustainability has grown massively. That’s why we’re now a carbon net neutral facility; we have the country’s largest wind turbine, we 3D print machine parts using one of our waste streams and we move all our vehicles around the site on hydrated vegetable oil (HVO).

We have had to evolve our offering and the way we work. The cost pressures that have grown recently have meant that productivity improvements are more important than ever. Our ability to embrace technology to take cost out where we can has been critical, but the core purpose of delivering value for our customers has ultimately, remained unchanged.

We embraced sustainability and found it has had an economic benefit. Our 2.5 megawatt wind turbine, which was put up in 2019, provides 50% of our electricity for the site. And when you compare the cost of that electricity against the grid, it’s about a quarter of the price.

There’s been a number of different pressures but, if you keep embracing new technology and partner with businesses that help you optimise and drive forward, you can stay ahead of the game. The initiatives we’ve rolled out mean we are more resilient to some of the external factors impacting the sector.

Have you been experiencing supply chain challenges?

We hold more work in progress than we did before. With the cash impact to business, the only way to maintain service levels in the last couple of years (with the volatility and uncertainty around just about every single raw ingredient), is to invest in stock at different points in the supply chain.

The skill is to work out at which point you can unwind that. We were owned by private equity, we’re now owned by Encirc, but the cash tie up is a real factor and it’s been a requirement of the business to commit more cash.

How is the Encirc acquisition progressing?

The deal completed 1 February so we’re  just over a month in. The excitement is huge. Accolade, who were our owner, are now our biggest customer, which is great.

We’ve got the scale of the biggest wine company in the UK on a long-term deal, but we also have the freedom to be an independent contract packer. With Encirc we’ve also got a facility in Manchester so I’m currently working out the integrations across those two facilities, and how we balance and provide an even better offering to our customers.

Encirc, as a glass manufacturer, has just announced it will be installing the first hydrogen powered glass furnace in 2027. So, we’ve got an owner who’s as committed to sustainability as we are. It sounds bold, but our aim is to provide an offering to the drinks industry that’s not been seen before. We have the ability now, in terms of glass manufacture, customer base and manufacturing technology, to provide a really unique service.

Skills in the sector is a constant issue – how has this particular problem shifted since 2014?

It’s certainly still there and it’s something that I don’t think we’ve cracked yet, but we have got the right owner/partner and we have a huge commitment to apprentices and graduates.

We’re partnering with local universities and looking at doing gap years for graduates. Our apprenticeship programme is in place but it’s important to really take ownership and train yourself, because we found it really hard to find engineers with the right skills in the open market.

That’s partly because it’s such a competitive sector. In a way that’s great because there’s so much manufacturing in the UK and huge opportunities for engineers.

In addition, we’re also bringing groups of girls from local schools into site to meet a number of our leading women. We still have a very low representation of women in manufacturing and that’s something we’re looking to change.

A number of my senior leadership team are female, and we have people in some awesome roles. We have to break the image of a job in a manufacturing being thought of as dirty. We have to work with schools and make young people aware of what salaries people can start on. But I think there’s a lot of work still to be done.

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