March bag factory CPL Felthams welcomes back former workers for 50th anniversary celebration

Felthams, March. 50th Year in trading, Long serving staff past and present. Left: Donna carry, Robert Albert, Gill Grounds, Fred Palmer, Brenda Grounds, Angela Fuller. Colin Oswald and Christine Green. Picture: Steve Williams. Felthams, March. 50th Year in trading, Long serving staff past and present. Left: Donna carry, Robert Albert, Gill Grounds, Fred Palmer, Brenda Grounds, Angela Fuller. Colin Oswald and Christine Green. Picture: Steve Williams.

Thursday, July 17, 2014
8:30 AM

Past and present workers came together to celebrate a bag making factory’s 50th birthday yesterday.

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Felthams, March. 50th Year in trading. Managers past and present, Left: Colin Oswald present manager, Fred Palmer manager until 1992, and Robert Albert manager until 2005. Picture: Steve Williams.Felthams, March. 50th Year in trading. Managers past and present, Left: Colin Oswald present manager, Fred Palmer manager until 1992, and Robert Albert manager until 2005. Picture: Steve Williams.

CPL Felthams, which produces bespoke bags, drawstring bags, padded bags, sample cases and dust covers, has had a factory on Cawood Close off Estover Road in March since 1964.

They also design and make a wide range of printed bags and eco-friendly cotton bags.

At its early 70s peak, more than 100 people worked in the factory. Now, there are 15 people working there but business is booming.

General manager Colin Oswald, who’s been at the factory for nine years, said: “With the advent of India and China manufacturing textile products much more economically than the UK, Felthams has had to adapt to make short runs of smaller quantity products to a large range of UK customers.

“We have still managed to retain a loyal and dedicated workforce who have coped magnificently with the challenges we have faced in recent years. Sales are improving and our business is expanding. We are a profitable company.”

Some of the workers have spent their whole working lives in the factory - guillotine operator Gill Grounds and factory supervisor Angela Fuller both started aged 15. They have chalked up 44 and 42 years respectively.

Mrs Fuller said: “I left school on the Friday and started here the following Monday.

“We’re quite a happy bunch. Things have changed a lot - there used to be over 100 people working here.”

Mrs Grounds added: “We’re proud of what we do, which has kept us going.”

Another familiar face who returned to the factory was Fred Palmer, 84, who started at the factory when it opened in 1964 and was manager between 1970 and 1992.

He said: “I have many fond memories of this place and made good friends here.”

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