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.

  Higher Walton Mill - 1982   Higher Walton Mill - 1982

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

  PAR - Old Logo   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.


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.

  Higher Walton Mill - 1985 (17A)   Higher Walton Mill - 1985

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.

  PAR (Preston) Ltd - Club Street   PAR (Preston) Ltd - Club Street

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 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 Ltd, the single company now operated from the two locations in Preston and Ashton-under-Lyne.

  PAR Catalogue Cover - Issue 2


On the 31st October 2011, the Preston branch moved to a 30,000 sq ft premesis 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 Branch

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 manufacture Corromide® (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 Group


The third edition of our 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, is the most comprehensive edition to date.

  PAR Group Catalogue - Issue 3


The 16th December 2013 saw another major delvelopment within the company. PAR Group's Manchester branch moved from it's 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 Branch

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


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.