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J Stell and Sons


20th April - 'Doing our Bit'

There was excitement this weekend, and also a slight thrill, of being a small part of a national news story – not something that often happens in the Cardboard Tube world!

On Friday evening we were asked how quickly we could make five hundred 1.5m long tubes for re-winding NHS surgical gown material? Answer: Our wagon pulled into our customer’s yard in the South West at 09:00 on Monday morning (having set off from Keighley at 2:30am). Service!

Apparently, our customer has enough stock of this special virus-impermeable material to solve the NHS gown shortage within the next week or so, provided they can find factories to manufacture them. Hence Burberry, Mulberry and Barbour have all stepped-in, offering their manufacturing capacity and hopefully, therefore, a solution to part of the NHS PPE crisis that has been hitting recent news headlines.

We were obviously pleased to be able to help in a small way but will be REALLY pleased if it means the surgical gown shortage is alleviated.



9th April - Adjusted to the new 'normal'

This phrase probably best sum's up where we are. Some industries we supply cardboard tubes to (food & healthcare) have seen exponential demand increases whilst some have seen demand fall off a cliff (textiles & automotive).

We've reconfigured our business to adjust to these huge swings in cardboard tube demand through multi skilling, furloughing and a great team spirit here in the factory. Layered on top of this has been a rigorous adoption of new distancing and hygiene practices to ensure the safety of all who work here.

Mercifully, very few of our employees have been directly affected by the Covid-19 virus and our raw materials supplies remain un-hindered.

We'll keep this page updated as things develop but I don't anticipate any note worthy changes for at least a few weeks.

31st March

Just to re-iterate: as a 'Critical Supplier' to many of the key industries that are supporting the nation wide effort against Covid-19 we're clear that we will continue to supply and support these supply chains. 

Current Status: Supplying all incoming orders to normal lead times but reducing our manufacturing capacity in line with demand

Following a 'normal' sales week w/c 23rd March, this week will probably see a 30% reduction in sales value. A cataclystic change in any normal situation for our industry, but these are not normal times and is in line with our new expectations.

Raw material supplies continue to cause no concern with normal paper, glue and packaging stocks.

We've furloughed a first wave of employees to cut our capacity to match demand. From a business perspective, the objective was to ensure that sufficient skills remained within the business but, morally, we had to ensure that people who have been identified as 'higher risk' due to either known health conditions, living with someone with a known health condition or age were prioritised, and this we have done.

We've had many letters from food and health care customers thanking us for our support and explaining the critical role we play in ensuring the smooth running of their supply chains. These have been very helpful for us in communications with our staff and the local community, thank you.


26th March
Covid-19 Risk Assessment & Contingency Plan

Current Status: ‘Business As Usual’

Following Boris Johnson's announcement of further restrictions to social freedom of movement on the evening of Tuesday 23rd March, we are still operating at 'Business As Usual' status. It is 'necessary' for our workforce to come to work to produce cardboard tubes - many of which are supplied directly into medical and food supply chains. Our workforce take great pride in this responsibility and we are proud of the support they are able to give in these difficult times.  

We are currently not experiencing any negative impact on our ability to service our customers at their normal demand.
Lead times remain at normal levels and our delivery routines are unaffected.

Stocks of all major raw materials remain at desired levels.  All suppliers are happy that current orders will be honoured.
We hold 6 weeks’ stock and purchase from a number of sources, both in the UK and in mainland Europe. Our largest supplier is local and offers very short lead-times e.g. a few days.  We also have the capability to slit specific width paper from ‘jumbo’ rolls giving us flexibility and contingency.
We have doubled our stock holding on site and have also identified alternative suppliers. All suppliers are UK based.
We have 3 weeks’ stock cover. Our supplier is local and we also have a contingency supplier identified.
We have a number of local contingency suppliers.

We currently have sufficient numbers of skilled and experienced staff to manufacture our products to the usual high standards.  Recent school closures have had a minimal effect on our staff’s availability and we have been able to offer enough flexibility to protect supply.

All employees and visitors are following government guidelines for minimising the risk of transmitting the virus with additional hand sanitising stations, lidded peddle-bins and a requirement to sanitise hands on entry to the site, canteen and re-entry to the workplace.

We have a high degree of multi-skilling across our workforce and are confident that there are not any critical processes that could not be operated if we saw a significant loss of staff e.g. 25%, but it would restrict our overall capacity.


Tubes on the Catwalk

We are honored to have supplied the cardboard tubes that have created the catwalk installation at the Bowes Museum for the its current exhibition:
Catwalking - Fashion through the lens of Chris-Moore

We were involved from the beginning with the design stage of the installation and are proud of the visual effect our tubes have created. One of the challenges was working out the logistics of delivering 4m long tubes onto the first floor of a country house!

2 of our staff attended the opening night of the exhibition and report that it offers a fascinating perspective on the work of one of the 20th century's greatest fashion photographers - well worth a visit.


Keighley College Best Academic Achievement Award 2018

Congratulations to Nathan Buckle for winning the Keighley College Academic Achievement Award whilst studying for his BTEC Level 3 in Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering. Nathan is our Continuous Improvement Leader and is studying for the BTEC qualification as part of his development programme at Stell.

Nathan was presented the award by Harry Gration at the Keighley Business Awards gala dinner.


Photo's From Denise's retirement present trip to the Isle of Man TT Races 


ISO 9001 – 2015 transition successful!

We’re pleased to announce we’ve successfully made the transition to the latest ISO 9001 standard – the 2015 standard. Our transition has been approved following an audit from our external assessors - Lloyds Register Quality Assurance.

The new 2015 standard has some significant changes compared with the 2008 standard and these are all aimed at helping the business improve the aspects of our quality that are most critical to our customers. We’re proud of our quality record and excited by the opportunities for improvement that the new standard will help us identify.

Our updated certificate can be downloaded by following the link on the home page.


Denise completes 50 years’ service!

On 15 August 2017 Denise Butcher completed an astonishing 50 Years’ service with Stells – a fantastic achievement for which we all congratulate her. Denise has been a stalwart of our ‘cottage industry’ machines: cutting, snecking, assembling and packing smaller cardboard tubes. Fortunately, much has changed in the last 50 years, including the £30.50 a week wage she earned back in 1967!

Denise plans to retire in October and enjoy attending the 2018 Isle of Man TT race, for which the Company has given her tickets.

Well done Denise, we wish you a well-deserved and happy retirement!



Stell Cardboard tubes buys Holmes Mann’s Tube Division

Stell Cardboard Tubes (Keighley) and Holmes Mann & Co. Ltd (Bradford) have signed a historic agreement that will allow both companies to invest in and grow their core businesses.

Stell Cardboard Tubes has bought Holmes Mann’s Cardboard Tube division and the two companies have signed a supply contract giving Holmes Mann strategic access to Stell’s unrivalled cardboard tube expertise.

The deal allows Stell to expand its cardboard tube business and, with access to Stell’s range, it strengthens Holmes Mann’s packaging product portfolio.

All employees of Holmes Mann’s Cardboard Tube Division have transferred to Stell.

Richard Guest, MD of Stell Cardboard Tubes – “We’re excited by the opportunities this deal creates: increased investment in our production; increased presence in our home northern markets allowing better service to both existing customers and former Holmes Mann customers.”

Barny Holmes, MD of Holmes Mann – “This deal simplifies our business and allows us to concentrate on what we’re great at: providing our customers with a tailored and bespoke range of quality packaging materials”

Stell Cardboard tubes buys Holmes Mann’s Tube Division

Stell Stars on Emmerdale!

On Tuesday our cardboard tubes took a starring role in Nicola’s lucky escape from the fire on Emmerdale. Thanks to our tubes, Nicola wasn’t badly hurt by falling scaffolding poles but suffered a few light knocks from our tubes – made to look like metal scaffolding poles!

Does anyone else have any novel uses for cardboard tubes? Contact us at – we’d love to hear from you!