Scottish Print Review

By The Drum, Administrator

April 6, 2007 | 6 min read

Ryan McIntyre, Woods of Perth

The trend, it would appear, shows no let up with a number of good long established companies facing the threat of closure with over capacity and a lack of investment key to their survival.

Printers will need to redouble their efforts to reduce costs, improve quality and efficiency and add value to their customers through product innovation.

Woods of Perth have invested in excess of £7 million in plant and machinery over the last 24 months providing a range of services from short run digital through to B1 - 10 colour printing delivering a complete in house solution that now includes direct mail.

It would be wrong to say that Woods successes have been delivered on the back of others misfortune but rather a proactive approach which understands the business needs and objectives of our customers.

There are a number of print companies continuing to invest and recognise that technology and perhaps more importantly people will be important in delivering benefit in the future.

However, the environment now features high on the list of priorities when decision makers are engaging with new print suppliers, this will present its own challenge as many organisations are operating from more traditional sites which allows for little improvement.

Care for the environment is now a firmly established priority within our business culture. Having moved factory in 2006 we have been able to give priority to energy saving, water conservation, waste minimisation and a reduction in our chemical consumption. Having worked closely with the carbon trust we have been able to set new environmental standards.

Dealing directly with a number of leading PLC’s and blue chip agencies we are asked almost without exception to detail our environmental policy. The follow up to this is that it must stand up to audit which we are happy to do.

Alan Walker, Allander

Closures in any industry clearly have a traumatic effect on the livelihoods of all the hardworking people involved. It places a burden on buyers to find replacement suppliers. Often strong working relationships built up over many years, are lost. It is unpleasant to witness a bun fight over the proceeds of any closure. Allander has gained when competitors have fallen, by fortunately having existing relationships with certain customers and we have also employed many of the people who lost their jobs.

Hopefully now, there will be stability on the horizon for all the remaining print companies.

Printers are continually faced with falling timescales, run lengths, margins and of course top notch quality is a given. It’s the printers who meet the challenges of these demands that create success for themselves.

Buyers in the Creative Industry are very savvy. They use printers who have invested in the best people, technology and equipment.

Minimising your impact on the environment has to be at the heart of any business strategy. At Allander, we buy local wherever possible in order to reduce transport pollution.

George Pryde, Summerhall Press

Our success has been backed by the failure of other businesses. When Nimmos collapsed in January of last year, we took on 12 of their staff. When Pillans and Waddies went down in August we took on 30 more staff – the financial sales team, the typesetting and the direct mail developments have all been on the back of that.

The Nimmos collapse increased our sales with existing customers. However, Pillans and Waddies brought us new customers with the new services... We now offer a service from digital printing to direct mail and fulfilment. We have closed the circle. We outsource very little now – apart from, perhaps, specialist print finishing.

My focus has always been to ensure that we are moving, and that Summerhall is always ahead of anybody else. We have to keep moving to keep ahead. We have to react to the needs of the client. We need to work closely with them to find a solution to their needs.

One of the hardest areas for the print industry is the cost involved in investing in the technology to keep ahead of the game. A number of our competitors will say that Summerhall has a high-risk strategy. Our risk is that we have invested a lot of money and we now have to pay for that. It’s a risk because if we don’t make the sales, then we have a problem. We are confident that we can do that. It is the companies that don’t invest that have the problem.

The companies that have gone under are, by and large, the companies that haven’t invested in new technology. Our oldest machine is about five years old. It is five years newer than Pillans and Waddies newest machine.

Angus MacDonald, managing director, CCB

The prices that are being quoted by some printers within the marketplace are naturally unsustainable and casualties are to be expected. This is not something new and has been ongoing for many years.

The “smart” printer will not react or be bullied into accepting the daft prices that are being dangled as competitive, but will rather walk away from work that would appear to be quoted at less than cost.

That is why CCB are still here after 15 years and continue to make profit to reinvest in the latest equipment...after all is that not what it is all about?

The demands placed on printers are increasing due to the quick turn rounds being offered daily by the Digital devices. Clients are asking for Litho to be delivered within the same time frames.

CCB now offer a 24 hour 7 day a week production facility to service the demands of clients and we sometimes wonder how other printers can satisfy client’s delivery requests by working single day shifts or even double day shifts...this would certainly not be acceptable to CCB clients. We have also had to invest in buying our in house “finishing” equipment, which also runs 24 hours and gives us the control to commit to the delivery request; this obviously has an effect on the success or failure of external print finishing houses.

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