A FIRM which has grown into a multinational business employing over 500 people since being launched by two entrepreneurs above a small shop has marked its 40th anniversary.

Thirsk-based GSM Graphic Arts and the GSM Group celebrated the milestone with a dinner, disco and casino night for more than 100 past and present employees at Solberge Hall, near Northallerton.

GSM Group chairman, who Barry Dodd founded the firm in Guisborough with Geoff Collier, said expansion forced the firm to move to Castlegarth, Thirsk, which has been developed to include a factory, housing cutting edge machinery.

GSM Graphic Arts employs more than 60 local people to manufacture and supply labels, nameplates and fascias to customers across the globe.

A spokeswoman for the firm said its commitment to the training and personal development of employees had resulted in numerous team members staying with the business for more than 20 years.

Mr Dodd, who was recently awarded a CBE for services to the regional economy and voluntary work, said: "Thirsk has supported GSM through providing superb employees over the years.

"The honour should go to them because their competence enables me to spend some time on voluntary activities including chairing public institutions.”