Belfast packaging firm announces 35 new jobs as part of £5m expansion

MSO Cleland's managing director, Joanna Calixto (right) with Invest NI boss Kevin Holland.
Ryan McAleer

BELFAST firm MSO Cleland has announced 35 new jobs as part of a £5 million investment to produce more sustainable packaging.

The east Belfast company, which dates back to 1876, specializes in cartonboard packaging and labels for the food and drink, and pharmaceutical sectors.

The fresh investment in new machinery is seen as a move to captialise on companies moving away from plastic packaging.

MSO Cleland was one of the first beneficiaries of the Co-Fund NI programme during 2012. The Invest NI imitative, which is bankrolled by European funding, put £250,000 into the company, with other private investors injecting £750,000.

The move triggered a restructuring within the company, with Ralph Chalmers appointed as chairman the following year. The company is now ultimately owned by Mr Chalmers’ Newry-based CartonCare group.

Last year the east Belfast firm had 162 staff on its books, recording a pre-tax profit of £860,000 from a turnover of £16.8m.

Managing director Joanna Calixto said: “Since taking over MSO in 2013, we have significantly restructured our business and worked hard to rebuild an impressive reputation in the packaging industry across the UK, ROI and increasingly into Europe.

She said Invest NI’s support had been “invaluable” in helping the firm invest in new machinery.

“With Covid-19, it may seem a strange time to many to make this investment, but we’ve been laying the foundations for the last number of years.

“This investment gives us the latest capabilities, enabling us to continue to innovate and add value to our customers’ packaging.”

Invest NI chief executive, Kevin Holland, said the investment followed a surge in demand for sustainable packaging.

“This investment is an important strategic step for MSO Cleland, which has clearly identified a business opportunity and is investing to capitalise on it,” he said.

Invest NI estimates that the jobs will contribute around £800,000 in annual salaries.

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