History of PAR Group

Preston Asbestos and Rubber (PAR) started life trading from a small unit at Higher Walton Mill, near Preston. The company was started by local resident Sid Kirby, who established PAR as a distributor of rubber, insulation and janitorial products to businesses in the surrounding area.

In 1980, Sid Kirby retired and sold PAR to Ian Glen and Henry Lewis who between them had over 40 years' experience in the rubber industry. Henry Lewis had previously made his name at Dunlop-Angus (which later became known as BTR - British Tyre & Rubber Co. Ltd) and Avon Rubber, whilst Ian Glen had worked for CMT. The pair had met while working at the nearby Rubber and Allied Products (RAP), which is when Kirby approached them. They took the opportunity to start a new venture together and so began the fast development of the company.

Shortly after Ian and Henry took over, Dennis Hill joined the team from Rubber & Allied Products and became an equal partner. He would later go on to start PAR (Manchester) Ltd in 1982.

Under new directorship, PAR increased stocks of rubber sheeting, gasket materials and hoses. They also invested in moulding presses, gasket clickers and a rubber extruder. This new manufacturing equipment enabled them to convert many stocked materials into bespoke products cut to the customer requirements.

With stock and manufacturing facilities in place, PAR recruited a number of sales representatives with the aim of introducing their products to many different industries and market sectors throughout the north west of England.

In 1983, trading as PAR (Preston) Ltd and PAR (Manchester) Ltd, the companies began to advertise themselves as specialists in all plastic, insulation and rubber products. A company logo was created and the slogans "When it comes to service, it's PAR of course" and "We specialise in specials" were used.

PAR - Old Logo
The old PAR Group Logo
(circa 1983)


An increase in business across other areas presented PAR with the opportunity to open several new branches. PAR (Yorkshire) Ltd began life in Wakefield, while PAR (Cumbria) Ltd was established in Heysham. PAR (Cumbria) Ltd was ideally located to service the vast number of contractors working on the construction of the nuclear power station along with the supply base for the Morecambe Bay gas field in Barrow-in-Furness.

In 1985, PAR (Preston) Ltd purchased a second unit (unit 17A) at Higher Walton Mill.

In 1988, PAR (Preston) Ltd moved into larger premises at Club Street, Bamber Bridge approximately 3 miles away. The unit at Club Street had a separate manufacturing area and warehousing facility. Meanwhile, PAR (Manchester) Ltd moved into larger premises in Ashton-under-Lyne.

The company introduced its first website in November 1999 and awareness of PAR not only spread throughout the UK but also into Europe and worldwide.

Early PAR Group Flyers, Click to Enlarge

In 2003, Henry Lewis and Ian Glen decided to retire and the company was taken over by a new management team. The new owners quickly introduced a computerised system into the sales department and marketing activity soon began to increase.

PAR launched the next iteration of their website in July 2003 and recruited within the sales and production departments at both sites. Throughout the rest of the 2000's, further investments were made in staff, manufacturing facilities and marketing.

PAR was also re-branded during this time with the golfer logo being replaced with a hexagon polymer design and the new tag-line; "Manufacture, process and supply plastic, insulation and rubber products to industry".

In the late 2000's, PAR (Preston) Ltd introduced automated CNC gasket cutting, welding, forming, industrial stitching machines and further rubber moulding capability.

In 2010, PAR branches became ISO 9001:2008 accredited. In 2011, PAR (Preston) Ltd, PAR (Manchester) Ltd and PAR (Yorkshire) Ltd were merged together and the 'Plastic and Rubber Group Ltd' was formed. Trading as PAR Group, the single company now operated from the two locations in Preston and Ashton-under-Lyne.

PAR Catalogue Cover - Issue 2PAR Catalogue Cover, Issue 2

On the 31st October 2011, the Preston branch moved to a 30,000 sq ft premises in Chorley. The new location, named 'Bridge House', provided a much larger manufacturing and warehousing area, enabling further investments in stock and manufacturing equipment.

PAR Group Ltd - Preston BranchThe PAR Group Ltd Preston Branch at Bridge House, Chorley

On 24th May 2013, PAR Group purchased the assets previously owned by the Burnley based company IAC Plastics after they had fallen into administration following financial difficulties. IAC Plastics had been established for over 35 years and had an extensive range of plastics engineering facilities including CNC machining, cutting, routing, drilling, milling and lathe facilities. The acquisition also provided PAR Group with the capability to supply cast nylon rods, sheets and tubes along with extruded Corrothene® (polyethylene) products such as chain guides and wear strips. The new IAC Plastics division was a significant addition to the plastic machining and fabricating capability already in place within PAR Group.

IAC Plastics - A Division of PAR GroupIAC Plastics, Initially Trading as a Division of PAR Group

The third edition of the PAR Group catalogue was released on the 8th August 2013 and featured significant improvements from the previous publication. This included the re-imagining of the design, updated product lines, specialist engineering guides and technical data comparisons. Also added was a market sectors section, enabling users to find related products in your industry with minimum effort. Issue three had over 300 pages and was the most comprehensive edition to date.

PAR Group Catalogue - Issue 3PAR Catalogue Cover, Issue 3

The 16th December 2013 saw another major development within the company. PAR Group's Manchester branch moved from its premises in Ashton-under-Lyne to a new home in Heywood, Greater Manchester. This site now accommodates the plastic engineering facilities brought from the IAC acquisition as well as further improved space for goods warehousing.

PAR Group Ltd - Manchester BranchThe PAR Group Ltd Manchester Branch at Heywood, Greater Manchester

On the 13th April 2017, PAR Group launched an online shop; PAR Direct.  The new facility enabled customers to quickly and easily purchase a wide range of products 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Online customers also benefited from regular offers along with preferential prices and shipping rates.

PAR Direct

In June 2021, PAR Group announced a major sponsorship deal with Preston North End Football Club to become the club's Principal Partner. 

Preston North End are an English Football League (EFL) Chamionship team who compete in the second tier of English football. They are a club with a rich and vibrant history and are recognised as a founder member of the Football League in 1888.

PAR Group's support of Preston North End dates back to the 2014/15 season when they became official season ticket wallet sponsors, and has since developed to sponsorship of the Sir Tom Finney Stand since the 2015/16 season and back of kit sponsors for the 2020/21 season.

The Principal Partner agreement marks a significant step forward in their level of support and they proudly became the front of shirt and training wear sponsors whilst retaining many of the previous seasons agreements already in place.

Principal Partner of Preston North End Football Club

In December 2021, PAR Group acquired the business Mountford Rubber & Plastics Ltd. Mountford were a long established business, operating from their site in Birmingham for over 35 years. Following the acquisition, Mountford's factory in Birmingham was closed and all business transferred to the pre-existing PAR Group branches at Preston (Chorley) and Manchester (Heywood). Much of Mountford's ongoing business fit perfectly into the core product range and capabilities of PAR Group, and the purchase brought with it an array of new plant, tooling resource and stock. This was a significant acquisition by the PAR Group, further strengthening our position as one of the leading plastic, insulation and rubber product suppliers in the UK.

Mountford Rubber & Plastics LtdMountford Rubber & Plastics Ltd Acquisition

In March 2023, PAR Group acquired the business Aquarius Plastics Ltd. Aquarius Plastics had been very successful operating in the Guildford area for over 30 years. Following the acquisition, the current working premises in Guildford was closed and all pre-existing business and stock transferred to our PAR Group branch in Manchester. Aquarius' ongoing business fell perfectly into the PAR core product range and capabilities and, as such, the transition was seamless. This was another important acquisition by the PAR Group, retaining our position as one of the leading industrial plastic suppliers, manufacturers and converters in the UK.

Aquarius Plastics LtdAquarius Plastics Ltd Acquisition

On 1st May 2024, PAR Group became a division of R&G Fluid Power Group Ltd - a UK-based company and division of Diploma PLC. They were established in 2017 and have amassed extensive knowledge and expertise within fluid power products to industry. R&G have 40 UK sites providing Bespoke Engineering, Gaskets & Seals, Hose & Couplings, Hydraulics and Pneumatics to industry. PAR Group fit in perfectly, and becoming a division enabled each company to grow even stronger by working together.

PAR Group with R&G Fluid Power GroupPAR Group & R&G Fluid Power Group Ltd

Today, PAR continues to strive for excellence in service and quality. With a customer base spanning as far as Australia, PAR supply clients from multinational blue-chip organisations right through to sole traders, with every customer receiving the very highest care and attention from a dedicated sales team.

With vast experience in rubber and plastics engineering, PAR have an excellent reputation throughout the industry and are renowned for their ability to provide solutions to unusual and difficult applications. The company is understandably very proud of their impressive progression from humble beginnings over 30 years ago.