Remaining loyal to its city and old values since 1885
MANUFACTURING its luxury products to some of the world's most exclusive brands, GF Smith has plenty to shout about.
The Hull business specialises in creating coloured and textured high-quality paper and has been part of the city's heritage since 1885.
Creating paper products for exclusive brands such as Stella McCartney, Burberry, Alexander McQueen, Marks & Spencer and Topshop's make-up range, it is a vibrant business.
Joint managing director Phil Alexander said: "We have always worked with big-name brands, as these are at the heart of the business.
FREE MEAL OFFER at our award winning restaurantView details
Whatever your occasion, book a table for 6 or more and we will give you a free meal up to the value of £15 with this voucher.
Terms: Cannot be used with any other offers or vouchers. Your email address.......................... (if you want to receive vouchers in the future). Print voucher or show us the voucher on your phone.
Contact: 01724 281289
Valid until: Friday, July 19 2013
"We work with creative industries such as graphic designers and we are lucky because brands seek us out."
With almost 500 colours and textures of paper on offer to its clients, the business supplies items such as invitations for high-profile events its clients have organised.
According to the company, it is also the UK's biggest producer of wedding albums and has supplied a number of albums for prestigious customers over the years.
It may have a host of international, popular brands on its books but the company is loyal to its home and 130 people of its almost 200-strong team are based in the Hull office.
Mr Alexander said: "I speak for the many people who work for the company when I say we are all very proud of the organisation and we work as a team.
"We have remained loyal to the city, despite the majority of our business being in the South and the Midlands.
"Our smallest area of business is actually Hull but we remain faithful to our roots."
Unknown to many, Thomas James Smith, of medical devices firm Smith & Nephew, was not alone when he set up business. Working from the same offices in North Church Side, his brother George Frederick Smith was also busy establishing his own business – GF Smith & Son.
Mr Alexander said: "This is a real connection not many people know about."
However, it hasn't always been an easy ride for the paper merchants.
The business suffered from difficulties during the First World War when it couldn't access its stock and pay its bills.
Further disaster struck during the Second World War. In May 1941, 157 tons of high explosive and 20,000 incendiary bombs dropped on Hull and GF Smith lost its premises.
Its London branch was also wiped out and the business had to build its self back up again from the piles of rubble that were left behind.
In 1945, the company purchased an old ammunition store in Lockwood Street, where it is based today.
Providing a personal touch to its products has helped the company strive in its business and it has now been nominated in this year's Mail, News & Media Business Awards.
Mr Alexander said: "We still stick to old values when we create our products.
"We make some of our envelopes, which are more unique or quirky, by hand and I think the personal touch has helped us get to where we are today.
"We even sell the paper by sheet, rather than by bulk. We will count out the sheets for a business, which is quite unique, but we want to make sure we provide the customer with exactly what they want."
Like a host of other businesses across the city, GF Smith has had a look at its carbon footprint.
Mr Alexander said the business has taken many steps over the past few years to reduce its environmental impact.
He said: "We have taken steps to reduce what goes to waste and now we recycle everything that can be recycled."
Manufacturing everything in-house, Mr Alexander said the firm has taken the initiative to use occupancy sensor lighting in its two large warehouses.
He said: "If there is nobody in the warehouse, it is black, as the lights only come on if there is someone in the specific area."
GF Smith is also a founding member of Two Sides – an initiative set up by companies from the graphic communications industry to dispel the myths surrounding paper and the environment.
Mr Alexander said that an example of an age-old misconception is that "paper destroys forests" but in fact, demand for paper results in more trees being planted and growing trees are a huge contributor to the reduction in worldwide CO2 levels.
He said: "Paper is one of the world's most sustainable industries. If we need more of the industry's raw material, we simply grow more trees."
Originally set up by, and for, UK paper merchants, the Two Sides campaign is now global.
Mr Alexander said: "Never before have paper manufacturers, paper merchants, printers, print supplies companies and the publishing sector come together with a common purpose.
"Most of our papers are also certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
"This means they are made with, or contain, pulp that comes from FSC well-managed forests and follows a certified chain of custody that tracks the timber through every stage in the supply chain, from forest to final user."