In 1954, Rachel Marcovici and Janine Rocher laid the foundations for the international company that we now know as the RAJA group. What started as a two-woman company in struggling post-war France has grown into a multi-national packaging giant, with subsidiaries in 14 countries across Europe. As of 2015 they have an annual turnover of 440 million euros and employ 1600 people.
Do you know where the name ‘RAJA’ actually comes from? Or how many copies of the first ever Rajapack catalogue were printed? To answer all this and more, we’ve taken a look at how Cartons RAJA grew into the RAJA Group, and how they spread its roots across Europe and into the UK.
1954 – Cartons RAJA, whose name come from an amalgamation of the first two letters of each founding member’s first name: RAchel and JAnine, begins life under the shadow of the Eiffel tower. Starting with just one shop, Cartons RAJA specialise in recycled cardboard boxes, as they are cheaper to buy than brand new ones.
Late 1950s – In a period where France was still recovering from the World War 2, the low prices of these recycled cardboard boxes, coupled with the energy and entrepreneurial spirit of Rachel Marcovici, means RAJA Cartons quickly flourish. The company expand to include new product lines, have ten employees and boast a turnover of one million francs (around £14,640 in today’s pound sterling).
1962 – Danièle Kapel-Marcovici (President-Director of RAJA in 2015), daughter of Rachel Marcovici, begins working as a sales rep for the company at the age of 16. She would go on to stay in that post for the next 10 years.
1975 – The catalogue era begins. Cartons RAJA’s advertising department release their first ever product catalogue; a 24 page, black and white brochure which highlights 365 products. 10 copies are printed.
1982 – Danièle Kapel-Marcovici becomes Managing Director of Cartons RAJA, stepping up from her role as Sales and Marketing Director which she had held for the previous 4 years. Over the next 10 years, she would optimise the operations of the entire company, structuring all activities around key strategic teams such as purchasing, catalogue sales, product marketing, accounts, logistics, IT and human resources. Her work pays off as Cartons RAJA pioneer the direct selling of packaging materials.
1990 – Cartons RAJA drop the ‘Cartons’ from their name and rename themselves: RAJA.
1992 – The company’s turnover grew to 316 million francs (almost 5 times what it had been 10 years previously). They employ 190 people.
1994 – 2000 – RAJA becomes an international company by developing subsidiaries in Holland and Germany as well as purchasing BINPAC in Belgium and AID-PACK in the UK.
AID-PACK, which will later become RAJAPACK UK, are specialists in strapping. When AID-PACK are purchased in 1998, they have sales of £2 million.
2001 – RAJA create their digital offering and continue to develop their multi-channel marketing and sales strategy with the creation of their first online store (www.raja.fr).
2002 – Rajapack UKremain a catalogue-sales focussed organisation but move into the digital space with the creation and launch of their own website.
2003 – 2012 – European expansion continues with the creation of subsidiaries in Spain, Austria, Italy, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Denmark and Sweden.
2015 – RAJA purchase Morplan; a major player in the distance selling of supplies and equipment to the UK retail sector.
The story of the RAJA Group continues to grow and is led by the people who work here.
Our staff are determined to keep the company moving forward, providing quality service and packaging products to our customers. Because of this, our staff retention record is an enviable one. Recently, 9 of our staff, ranging from warehouse workers to the Head of Customer Marketing, were awarded for long service to the company of 10 years or more.
The values that RAJA Group was built upon; empowering women and sustainability, still apply today. The RAJA-Danièle Marcovici Foundation, created under the aegis of the Fondation de France in 2006, support community projects for women in France and around the world.
We also put a large focus on environmentally friendly packaging, just like RAJA Cartons did when they started selling second hand cardboard boxes to Parisians way back in 1954.
The RAJA Group has now been supplying packaging materials for customers at competitive prices for over 60 years, a fact that we are very proud of. Our long history and heritage have taught us to always keep the customer at the forefront of everything we do.