The History of Robinson

Robinson’ history is one of 400 years of innovation and manufacturing excellence. The roots of the Robinson packaging business date back to 1839 but members of the family were operating successful businesses in Derbyshire for at least two hundred years before that. The time-line below summarises the key events and history of the Robinson family and the development of Robinson and Sons of Chesterfield.


  • Early 1600s the Robinson family set up and run pottery businesses in Bolsover and Chesterfield.
  • 1625: The restoration of the pipe charter leads to diversification into pipe manufacture.


  • One branch of the family sets up as a blacksmith specialising in buckle manufacture.
  • 1793: The new fashion for snuff taking causes a downturn in the pipe industry and the family diversifies into the drapery business.


  • 1839: Opportunity presented by pill packaging, chemist business sold and cardboard pill-box mill bought – the origins of today’s paperboard packaging
  • 1845: 25 people are employed at Robinson and Sons with business growing thanks to the introduction of square boxes, willow chip boxes (for ointments) and turned boxes.
  • 1855: The Crimean War creates a huge demand for wound dressings and Robinsons diversifies into surgical lint manufacture producing a wide range of
    bandages, bleached cotton wools and other textile products.
  • 1890s: A new factory is opened to manufacture square pill-boxes. Cartons are added to the product offering.


  • Robinson and Sons employs almost 1000 people in packaging and textile production.
  • The latest products include dressings for antiseptic surgery and the development of the disposable sanitary towel.
  • 1930s: Robinsons invent and manufacture the first ever ‘disposable nappy’.
  • 1933: Cotton Dressings Pty Ltd, the first of Robinson’s overseas manufacturing ventures, is founded in Australia to produce cotton wool products.
  • 1949: Robinsons buy the patent for the first ever disposable nappy system – a combination of plastic garment and absorbent pad – and the Paddi and Cosifits
    brands are born.
  • 1957 The purchase of Robinson’s first injection moulding machine for Smartie tube cap manufacture heralds the birth of Robinson involvement in plastic packaging.
  • 1959 Robinsons launches Nikini sanitary garments and pads.
  • 1966 Robinsons purchases Pressure Sealed Plastics for disposable nappy production.
  • 1974 I.E White (Plastics) Ltd of Nottingham is purchased to consolidate the growth into plastic packaging.
  • 1985 Cotton wool balls joins Robinson Healthcare’s huge cotton wool product portfolio.
  • 1988 The now named Robinson Packaging – Plastic Products is the first part of the Group to achieve the BS5750 standard.
  • 1995 Sale of folding carton business to FCP.
  • 1998 Divestment of Healthcare businesses leaving core Packaging.
  • 1998 Acquisition of JDM Packaging in Toronto secures significant market share in North America.
  • 1999 Portland works demolished amd rebuilt for paperboard packaging.


  • 2001 Divestment of remaining healthcare investment.
  • 2004 Company floats on AIM Market.
  • 2005 Expansion into Eastern Europe with the purchase of the Lodz factory site in Poland.
  • 2006 Acquisition of the Stanton Hill plastic injection moulding operation of VR Plastics.
  • 2010 Closure of North American paperboard plant.
  • 2011 Sale of spiral wound paperboard business to Sonoco.
  • 2014 Acquisition of Madrox Plastic Packaging in Warsaw, Poland.


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