Hans Gronhi press contributes to a winning performance in Walsall

    • Qwikprint Ltd


    A company which embraces innovation

    Spectrum Birches Print and Design operates from a 12,000 sq ft factory in Walsall, and has 24 staff. The company has achieved an increase in turnover from £1.5m to £2m in the past year. According to Joint MD Andrew Holmes, the reason behind the recent success is a willingness to embrace new ideas in order to satisfy customer requirements. The company has developed a number of new revenue streams including point of sale, vinyl print and signage.

    “We believe we were the first company in the local area to embrace CTP technology back in the 1990s,” Mr Holmes recalls, “so we have never been afraid to explore new possibilities if we see the potential”


    A niche to be filled

    Spectrum applied this philosophy when taking the plunge into digital print in 2006, and much of the company’s short-run small format print is now produced on a Xerox 700. Longer runs are handled by a five colour B2 Sakurai press. The niche inbetween these production methods was earmarked for investment when an ageing four colour GTO 52 press was up for replacement.

    “We needed a more modern B3 press which would ease the pressure on both our B2 five colour and digital machine,” says Director Dan Martin. “Run lengths are shrinking in the B2 format so it made sense to buy a five colour B3, as much of the work is suited to the smaller size. We have several customers with special colour requirements, but also it’s essential to have a sealer unit to help quickly dry short run work. When it came to easing the pressure on our digital press, it was clear we needed an automated machine with all the latest whistles and bells in order to turn work around quickly.”

    Homework pays off

    A process of reassurance then began. “We did our homework,” says Mr Holmes. “We first saw the GH525 at a Printers Superstore Open House and were impressed. After that we visited a user in Leicester, and made sure we spoke to the press operator as well as the owner, who both gave us positive reactions. I also sent an engineering expert to give the machine a thorough inspection, and he couldn’t fault it!”

    Dan Martin says that the GH525 has proven as convincing in practice as it was on paper. “It’s the most sophisticated machine we’ve had. We can get plates on and off quickly, and because of the CIP networked automation, we can get up to colour quickly. If we put a colourbar on a 24 page job we can be confident of consistency, which has proven tricky in the past. It’s also handled difficult work such as heavy solids and a range of coated and uncoated stocks with no problems.”

    Changing times

    Mr Holmes: “I remember visiting dozens of printers as a repro sales rep in the nineties, it was common for them to describe themselves as a Heidelberg house, or a Komori House, or a Ryobi house, and so on. I’ve noticed that these are the printers who aren’t around any more! You just can’t be entrenched in your thinking, you have to be open to change. Nowadays when people buy print they aren’t so concerned about how it was produced, they just want it on time, at the right price, at the right quality. Our Hans Gronhi press is producing clean, consistent print which is sellable. The fact that it’s a relative newcomer, and built in China, is not important – what counts is that it works, and it makes us profitable.”

    Perhaps as a result of its recent performance, Andrew Holmes is optimistic, not just for his company, but for the future of print. “We see ourselves as a visual communications company and we offer our clients the widest possible range of services. For a period e-commerce looked like it was going to take over, but there is a rebalancing going on, and we see people coming back to print as an essential part of the marketing mix,” he says.


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