With Christmas Day just around the corner, festive preparations are well underway in households up and down the country.
With over 300 million crackers pulled throughout the festive period each year, they continue to be an essential part of everyone’s Christmas table in the UK.
Just a few miles from Grantham, Bottesford-based ‘Simply Crackers’ is enjoying yet another successful year of manufacturing bespoke, branded and handmade crackers.
Since being set up in 1982 by Heather Wheatley, who enjoyed making craft products in her spare time, Simply Crackers grew from a home-based start-up to a major organisation working with a wide range of international brands, including Mulberry, Centre Parcs, Burberry, Carluccios, Heineken and the BBC, providing a wide range of bespoke crackers to sell or give to customers, employees and stakeholders for festive celebrations.
Since being bought and taken over by managing director Geine Pressendo in 2010, the company has now expanded its portfolio to new markets including customised wedding crackers and branded Christmas crackers for corporate events, manufacturing all of its products from its warehouse in Bottesford.
Geine said: “We only make Christmas crackers per specification and as per client’s requirements. That makes every customer special to us as no one else will have the same design. We work directly with them from design of artwork through to order details, gifts and the final delivery of the crackers. We find that bespoke crackers add a touch of sparkle and a smile to a clients’ face.”
Geine took over the business in 2010 when she became disullioned with her job as a finance manager. With two children at home, she craved a more balanced lifestyle.
She said: “I knew that I wanted to manage my own company but finding the right one was difficult, as I didn’t have a particular hobby or passion. I wanted to buy a business that was already in existence but had the opportunity and potential to grow.”
After exploring a few ideas including a bed and breakfast, card shops and recycling companies, Genie finally discovered Simply Crackers.
But her new business nearly didn’t make it past its first Christmas after the existing staff left just months after Genie took over.
Genie said: “After the staff left, my husband Tony took unpaid leave from his job in London to help with production. We ended up having a very successful first Christmas... and my husband never went back to his job.”
Eight years on and the company deals with average orders of between 10,000 and 15,000 crackers per client and Geine works alongside Tony, who has taken the role of production manager, to meet the demand. They also employ one other member of staff to manage the website and seven people who fill the crackers from home.
Geine added: “Being able to cater for small orders is the beauty of our business. We had an order for 500 boxes from Burberry last year. This would have been too small an order for the majority of large cracker manufacturing companies to take on. But we are in a position to take on all kinds of orders, however small they are. We recently created 38 customised crackers for a wedding.”
With Christmas just weeks away, the festive period is always very busy for the company.
Geine added: “As we make the crackers to order, November and December are our busiest months, whereas January to April tend to be much quieter. We use those months to maintain our online presence, update the website and check our stock.”
Despite managing thousands of orders each year, Geine is always keen to introduce new ideas and this year is no different, with the unveiling of a brand new promotional product.
The T-Cracker aims to deliver the perfect festive combination with a mini forest-grown Christmas tree nestled alongside a Christmas cracker filled with miniature decorations.
The 35cm high fir is grown by Fortune Factory BV in Amsterdam and sits alongside an individual cracker.
Geine added: “The T-Cracker makes the perfect festive addition to a brand or retailer’s product range or can bring a touch of Christmas sparkle to an employee’s desks.
“The tree and decorations means the recipient has everything they need to decorate the tree to their own taste.”
For more information on the company, visit www.simplycrackers.co.uk