It was five years in January since we officially committed to the premise of producing and delivering Same Day Printing across London, with a further 6 months of planning prior. Since those early days with a few rented desks in an office, we’ve continued to grow massively year on year, expanding our operations, bringing in new machinery and talent and continuing to push further ahead at the forefront of this ever growing industry.
The Print market in the UK is now worth an estimated £14bn, with that figure expected to fluxuate hugely in the coming twelve months as COVID affected firms unfortunately come and go. It remains unclear how many firms are now solely reliant on furlough whilst the market is quieter. Those who have seen a huge increase in turnover from social distancing signage and graphics may have invested heavily in new kit on the up and now face a harsh sales slump as the demand drops off. It has been imperative to us to survive the last year’s lockdown measures and market downturn, with the wait for the event and exhibitions industry to reopen almost tantalising.
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But… (and I know we shouldn’t start a sentence with But but this isn’t all doom and gloom) – in the words of Sir Elton John, we’re still standing – writing this from our unit just outside of London, something we’ve been repeatedly reminded of during COVID as scam and outsourcing firms continue to crop up with no tangible bricks and mortar element. The first thing we’ve learnt is how key having premises has been to us. Whilst we’ve explored several options for moving to larger units recently, our focus has been shifted to doing the best with what we have and extracting the full potential first. We originally moved to Tilbury to provide quick and easy links to the Excel, O2 and City of London with deliveries now covering any address in London and further afield more recently. The key learning curve here has been maximising our workflow’s efficiency to enable delivery times to remain consistent with typical journey time 45 minutes.
It wouldn’t be 2021 without the huge push for sustainability and the rise of the EV, something we’ve been looking into since day one, keen on introducing zero emissions into our delivery infrastructure. Downtime last Summer enabled us to research and trial the all electric Renault Kangoo, capable of carrying around 70% of the jobs we produce. However, we found the range of these vehicles is still limiting for multi drop deliveries where vehicles can often go from East to West and back again in order to fulfill deliveries in order of urgency. The charging infrastructure within London is still somewhat limited – so does the cost of a vehicle being parked for several hours charging outweigh the savings? We’re continuing to trial new additions to the EV market this year including those from Arrival and Volta to hopefully find the perfect match for our first of many zero emissions vehicles.
Whilst the world’s manufacturing has faced huge staff shortages and issues during the pandemic, the print and sign industry has been relatively unscathed on the whole, however material shortages are starting to occur in some key areas, with many suppliers closing branches and locations and even the bulk hoarding of materials by those in the trade, namely floor graphics. This has inevitably led to inferior and unsafe floor graphics being slapped onto shop floors across the nation, with the sellotape now holding them down reminding us in the professional game how there will always be a cheaper way out for a quick buck. We’ve proudly stuck to using R10 rated floor vinyls at a minimum for all relevant jobs including those for Car Giant, care homes and those in the retail sector.
The strong position we hold as London’s only 24/7 Print and Sign company has continued to garner trust from our influx of new clients recently – with the key issue being the arrival and increase of middle men. Whilst there’s no issues in reselling or marking up in this industry, the problem comes when jobs are taken on without a supplier to turn to, hoping to find someone to squeeze on cost to maximise margins whilst never seeing or touching the final product. We are often called to fulfill orders for these jobs, and often called a short while later by the end user themselves who has paid for a product to one of these printers who has since gone silent. It falls to us to actually print and deliver, something we’re proud to have done in house now for over 1500 days. You can read more about the equipment we’re currently using here and how it enables us to deliver so quickly on Same Day Vinyl, Foamex, Signs and Banners.
And lastly, as an industry, we’ve proved we are tightknit after all. What is typically a cutthroat industry for many has been all but transformed by the new trade partnerships many have forged as they look to downsize, sell up or refocus their energy. We have seen a massive increase in trade customers with many utilising our flatbed UV printing service, powered by swissQprint.
We know it’s inevitable some names won’t reopen, a lot have made the difficult decision to close already. But come rain or shine, we’re still open all the time. In the past week alone, we’ve been through a pallet of roller banners, delivered to several film sets where others failed to deliver, and worked on Team GB’s fitting out at the NEC.
So let me tell you this printers and signmakers – it’s not long now until we’re fighting for parking spaces at exhibitions, borrowing each other’s tools and selling material to one another again. The end is in sight, and the new beginning for many is on the horizon. But for us, we’ve always been here, always will be.