In 1852 the founder of the company, William Roberts, commenced trading as a paper merchant in Lady Lane, Leeds. Developments soon included handmade bag making, shortly followed by the acquisition of specialised machinery, then progressing into commercial printing.
Following the death of William Roberts in 1877, the business carried on for a time as William Roberts & Son by his widow and executors. At this time, William Mart was taken into partnership having been employed as a traveller in Derby. The name of the company later changed to William Roberts, Son & Mart.
The company name changed again in 1888 to Roberts, Mart & Co and a warehouse was opened in Birmingham under the management of Walter Roberts. In 1890 Roberts, Mart & Co Limited was formed as a private limited company, the board then consisted of John Roberts as Chairman, with Directors William Roberts and William Mart. Following the deaths of both William Roberts and John Roberts, Walter Roberts was then appointed as Chairman and Managing Director in 1924.
A decision was made in 1928 to concentrate all production on Bank Mills, Leeds and the Birmingham warehouse was closed and an office opened on Martineau Street. Following the death of Walter Roberts in 1947, grandson of the founder, John Palliser Roberts was appointed Chairman and Managing Director. After John’s death in 1954 Mr Peter K Roberts became both Chairman and Managing Director.
Developments over this period included the manufacture and printing of cellulose film bags. On 19th November 1974, John Roberts, son of Mr Peter K Roberts was appointed as joint Managing Director. During this period the main emphasis on sales involved supplying the retail trade with packaging materials, following the advent of the supermarket, the Company began to diversify into the merchanting of Polythene Bags and Carriers until 1977 when a four colour Italian Flexographic Printer was purchased, followed by continued investment in both bag making and printing equipment.
In July 1980, a 5,000 sq ft warehouse was built and in June 1983 Romar Packaging Limited was formed as a separate subsidiary company involved in the Extrusion and Conversion of Low Density Blown Film. Since then, the company has continued to diversify – one the main areas involved the house-hold textile market and in July 1991, a patent was granted covering the manufacture of a Roll Pack Carrier Bag suitable for containing pillows and continental quilts.
Continued investment involved the installation of an 8 colour Flexographic Printing Machine during 1991, accompanied by further additions of Polythene Converting Machines. In 1995, a second 8 Colour Flexographic Printing Machine was installed along with a new Slitter rewinder.
On reaching 150 years of trading, it was decided that a book "From Paper to Polythene" should be commissioned on the company in order to identify how we originally became involved in printing packaging and to record for the first time its detailed history before existing records were either lost or destroyed.
The company relocates from Bank Mills to a brand new purpose built 100,000 square foot/seven acre site on Thornes Farm Way.
In 2009 Roberts Mart Chairman John Roberts handed over the day-to-day running of the firm to his two sons William and Ben after 45 years in control. But family connections at Roberts Mart do not stop with the company owners. Over the years sons, daughters and wives have all joined their husbands and fathers as employees at its site on Thornes Farm Way
Significant investment continues with the installation of the company’s fifth Flexo press and third laminator leading to the creation of 16 new jobs. This latest increase in capital expenditure takes Roberts Mart’s overall investment to just over £17.5m over the last 10 years, as the company has exploited new markets, whilst remaining at the forefront of the flexible packaging industry.