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Another printer goes to the wall

Discussion in 'Printing & Print Design Forum:' started by bigdave, Aug 19, 2011.

  1. bigdave

    bigdave Moderator Staff Member

    Got word from a friend yesterday that the print firm he works for in Stafford is ceasing trading as of next week. It's a real shame as many of the staff have been with the company for nearly 30 years.
  2. Stationery Direct

    Stationery Direct Administrator Staff Member

    Yeah loads are struggling mate, one of the oldest (I think the oldest) printing company in the UK (by me) went down the toilet last year.
  3. Minuteman Press

    Minuteman Press Moderator

    I have viewed the assets of quite a number and talked to former staff / directors. Always seems to be over optimistic forecasting, overspend on finance, absence of marketing, lack of flexibility to trends, poorly costed projects and complacency.

    I never want to be there - we question most that we do every day.
  4. squeezee

    squeezee Member

    We've had a few go down and be bought out by the original owner, no debts - the supplier pays :icon_mad:.
  5. Katedesign

    Katedesign Well-Known Member

    The company I was a director of went 'down' last year. We were unable to cut many of our costs; one of our sales team had serious family problems (his wife was dying from cancer) and although he worked he wasn't doing enough; the other had other problems and didn't pull his weight; the staff didn't want to take a pay-cut. We certainly weren't complacent; we marketed; we were never cheap. We had invested (OK too much!) in 2005 and had listened to our new partner (who promised much - delivered little) and as a result over-invested.

    That coupled with the downturn and a couple of big clients changing/reducing their print requirements did mean that we had to go bust. Not a good experience. But we were careful not to let down smaller suppliers.

    It is sad. Our two sales guys were able to get jobs, two of us were 'picked up' by the same company (and they made us redundant 9 months later); of the two printers - one has a job (hopefully still as he was on a three month trial) the other is still unemployed. Another member of staff works as a delivery driver, another as an estimator. We had a good business.

    And speaking to a friend still with a good print business recently he said that he was certain that few, if any, printers were making money. Perhaps it's why I bang on about supporting local businesses and not going out of the country. I have now discovered that we were probably the only people locally who did top quality black and white digital work - can't find anyone to replace us!!
  6. bigdave

    bigdave Moderator Staff Member

    It's for this reason that we've decided to stop promoting Bleed Ink. The business itself will still exisit but we're no longer actively seeking work. We seem to be spending a fortune in advertising and man hours quoting and chasing leads but the truth is people dont want to spend what little budget they have, on high end design and print. Even expanding into web hasn't worked as everyone seems to know someone who's brother's friend's cat's mother's owner's grandma will do it for £100 and thats not a realistic budget for us.

    Instead we're going to continue to service the few clients we have whilst either working for the publishing company or seeking employment elsewhere. If new clients come looking for us then great we'll take them on but for the forseeable future Bleed Ink is by request only.
  7. JohnRoss

    JohnRoss Member

    My sympathies for struggling printers everywhere, but I believe this is a 'global' thing, in at least two senses of the word. For one thing, why would anyone use a local printer for, e.g., a book run, when they can get the same thing done with the same quality for x% less in China? For another, if a business only lives off what its workers do, it's essentially parasitical and, sooner or later, doomed - companies must earn their money, add value, that's what economics is all about. Years ago, my wife's graphic design company had six employees, the most up-to-date technology, etc. It closed three years ago, the technology having come down in price or having become unnecessary - in other words, the company had ceased to add value to what its workers did. So my wife still works for the same publishers' but freelance, which is better for her and suits the clients fine - companies of that kind had simply become outdated. The same sort of thing is happening in any number of sectors.
  8. Katedesign

    Katedesign Well-Known Member

    But there are too many stories about the horrors of using an internet printer (especially abroad). Printers do add value as do graphic designers. Ask an 'internet printer' for something out of their usual spec and their price goes up to what your local printer might charge. You can go and ask advice, see different papers and boards, inspect the print on the press (if you really want to) etc. Your local printer will know print finishers, book-binders and other professionals who you - as either a designer or a customer- won't know.
    I understand that things change - but if people care about quality and perhaps being slightly different to the rest of the crowd they should value their local printer/digital printer. As a nation we are already losing jobs abroad in vast numbers and there are fewer job opportunities here. We should be supporting UK businesses.
  9. JohnRoss

    JohnRoss Member

    I repeat, I am sorry about the financial struggles of printers', esp. small firms, but I am not surprised by them.
    I wasn't really thinking of Internet businesses, I meant ordinary printing firms in China or Korea or wherever. I have a book project up my sleeve, so I've been looking around a bit at this, and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have printing done in Europe (much further west than Romania, at least), Asia's much cheaper, for the moment. I'm not soft in the head, though, I wouldn't dream of taking the claims on a website on trust, either.
    I'm not arguing with that, they're tradesmen with skills for which I have the utmost respect (even if graphic designers prefer to be considered 'professionals', my wife was a typesetter when she started out). I'm saying printers' firms as businesses don't add the same value that they used to, the companies, not the workers. For example, not long ago, large-format printers used to cost five or six-figure sums, and plotters were simply astronomical in price, but now you can buy a perfectly good, new A2 (approx. poster-sized) printer for under a thou, so anyone can do it, it doesn't need financial muscle or a credit line, or a business plan or even an accountant. A small architect's studio, for example, would have outsourced most of its print jobs ten years ago, probably doesn't need to now and if it still does, does it for a quarter of the price, at a guess.
    I'm going to lose popularity points here, but this is a very thin argument, sorry, and I think you'd be hard-pushed to find a single respected economist in agreement. For one thing, I don't see why tomato producers in Norfolk are any more deserving of my hard-earned cash than those in Morocco, on the contrary. For another, economics doesn't work like that - the business of a business is to make money for its shareholders, and if a UK company needed software, say, it would be negligent if it didn't at least consider buying it in India. If you want a strong UK economy, you are not doing it any favours by artificially supporting its weak points, not even for all the right reasons. If you want to support the UK economy, I dunno: buy things Brits are good at, like pop music or beer. And do, please, continue to use your local printer's for all the advantages it offers you, like personal service and prompt deliveries, at least until your sums make you decide otherwise.
  10. bigdave

    bigdave Moderator Staff Member

    Firstly you're confusing cheap with better. Just because a bottle of Lambrini costs less than a bottle of Moet, it doesn't mean you're getting good value.

    Secondly, What if something goes wrong with whatever it is you've bought from India or it arrives and the pages are upside down and back to front? You don't speak which ever one of the 100 odd languages so you cant tell them its wrong. They don't speak or read English so how we're they to know its wrong? On top of this, most of these foreign print shops don't use sustainable sources for their stock and whilst that doesn't bother you now, it probably will do when they've cut all the trees down.

    If everybody decided to buy everything abroad, all UK print firms and industries would go out of business. What happens when the Indians or the Chinese decide they're going to quadruple their pricing because there's no competition? At the same time in an attempt to regain lost revenue, the government adopts an Australian style system of import tax effectively doubling the cost of everything imported into the country. You've f**ked the country but its ok because we've got Carling and Jedward!
  11. JohnRoss

    JohnRoss Member

    It could, and it could mean you got better value for money. Seeing as how you've introduced the wine analogy, there are an awful lot of champagne-style wines in the world (not just my own favourite Spanish cava) which are at least as good as French champagnes, and, not being French, are cheaper.
    We are talking about business here, aren't we? That means contracts, T&C, and being able to talk to people. The business language of India is English. And in any contract, if they don't fulfill, you don't pay.
    Do you think these people run around in loincloths? We're talking about university graduates, not peasants. Modern Indians are better educated than most Europeans.
    Possibly a valid grudge. A Greenpeace thread might be in order.
    And I wouldn't really care, which I realize is not going to be a popular stance on this forum. Look, apart from everything else I have done professionally in my life, I've been a guitarist (not a very good one). And I've heard an awful lot of whining about Korean guitar makers and the like, and I say, sod you. If a Korean guitar maker can produce something European school-kids can use, good for it. And if UK print firms and industries can't stay in business, they don't deserve to.
    Ah, now you're talking smart (though I always thought Carling was Danish, and I have no idea what Jedward is, sorry). But I agree, what I have been saying so far is related with the situation we have had for the last few years, and it's likely to change in the immediate future as India and China, etc. become richer. Even so, I see no reason for anyone to Buy British - it was pretty pathetic as a slogan in the sixties, it would be even more pathetic in the twenty-first century.
  12. Stationery Direct

    Stationery Direct Administrator Staff Member

    Having had a quick scan through I think both sides have valid arguements, although from experience of some of my clients and some of the threads on here, buying print outside of the UK is a VERY risky business.
  13. bigdave

    bigdave Moderator Staff Member

    Carling is as English as a German drink brewed by a Canadian company can be. The recipe and company were founded by a Yorkshireman (Thomas Carling) who moved to Canada died and left the brewery to his sons who eventually sold it to what is now known as Molson Coors Brewing Company.

    Jedward are those 2 annoying c**ts with stupid hair that think theyre pop stars (see image):

    For someone who claims to have done so much, seen everything and know more than god, you're incredibly short sighted. If industry in the UK closes down, millions of people loose their jobs, the UK has nothing to export and so doesn't earn any money. It's credit rating drops and it cant borrow any money. The pound becomes worthless meaning we can't actually afford to buy the cheap stuff from India or China & we'd get chucked out of the EU for failing to meet our financial commitments. The country would turn into the London riots 24/7 and it would become near on impossible for you to emigrate and leave the mess you're 'buy cheap attitude' has created because nobody would sign the papers to let the English in to f**k their country up.

    You're looking at Ts&Cs & Contracts from an English business point of view where if a contract is broken compensation is expected and legal letters are written threatening court action etc... In my last paragraph you've already closed the country for business so there nobody to write your letter and no court to back you up, so what makes you think that a silly little Englishman 1000's of miles away is going to be listened to by a large Indian or Chinese corporation?

    As for running round in loin cloths they can wear what the hell they like but at the end of the day if you wipe your backside with your hand & eat with your fingers, you're a primitive society!
  14. squeezee

    squeezee Member

    It's a bit harsh to blame all that on me buying business cards in India :icon_biggrin:
  15. bigdave

    bigdave Moderator Staff Member

    no its not! It's all your fault! :icon_lol:
  16. Katedesign

    Katedesign Well-Known Member

    It's not about cost - it is about value. Spend £20 and get iffy cards. Spend £50 and get good quality cards. What do the iffy cards say about you and your business?

    Buying locally or UK on lots of things does mean keeping people in work, which means that taxes get paid, and then pensions and the health service get money. Money goes around. oils the wheels. (We have to ignore bankers and fat cats at the moment as they f**k things up)

    We have lost lots of industries that brought good money into the UK; we've lost choice (see how many English apples are for sale in your local supermarket for example).

    Yes technology has come down in price and made life tougher for all sorts of industries. BTW if you have an A2 printer and don't keep using it it will clog! Maybe then it will be worth going to your local printer... or when you need to make exhibition panels. The machines aren't that expensive. But can you guillotine 500 business cards at home, or wiro-bind, or laminate, or perforate?... and you only need to have 20 books made. Try India or China then!

    It is interesting to note how call-centres which were shipped out to India in the 90s are now coming back here.

    Design is also a skill we do well (Jonathan Ives). I just think we should support UK-based business first.
  17. JohnRoss

    JohnRoss Member

    British industry did close down, mostly due to Margaret Thatcher. The mines, the shipyards, the car factories, the textile industry, all gone. The UK is now a service economy, which includes printing.
    That is so hugely, gratuitously offensive, I almost find it difficult not to be as ill-mannered as you in reply. It shows an immense ignorance and lack of respect for other cultures, and certainly reflects no credit on either your world-view or your intellectual level. I would take it as a compliment from someone as unendowed with tolerance or intelligence if you would tell me to sod off.
  18. Dave L

    Dave L Well-Known Member

    No disrespect (well perhaps a little in view of that last paragraph) but extrapolating the collapse of western civilization from the evidence of a few print shops going to the wall in global hard times is a bit extreme, no?
  19. bigdave

    bigdave Moderator Staff Member

    I was merely vocalising a worst case scenario. Whats to say that if, as a nation we don't support UK business and industry the above wont happen? At some point the countries who can do it so much cheaper will put their prices up, and up and up.

    As for gratuity and offense, I'm sorry if my last post caused offense but my statement is far from wrong. Many Indians (even the ones who have an education) don't use toilet paper or cutlery. Instead they use their left hand to wipe and their right to eat. Go ask an ethnic Indian..... At the risk of sounding a bit Carl Pilkington, that's just a bit primitive for me.

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