Picon has celebrated its centenary with the publication of a commemorative book celebrating the organisation’s rich history, while also looking ahead to the future.


The original letter from the Ministry of Reconstruction

The member organisation for industry manufacturers and suppliers held a celebratory lunch at Stationers’ Hall yesterday (17 October). The date was, appropriately enough, International Print Day and also exactly one hundred years and one day since the Association of British Manufacturers of Machinery for the Printing & Allied Trades was formed, at the behest of the Ministry of Reconstruction.

The original membership was made up of 33 companies, with a mission to “encourage, promote and protect” the interests of UK manufacturers and producers. One of the 33 – Linotype & Machinery (London) – remains one of 97 members today, in the shape of L&M Imaging Systems.  

The modern-day Picon came into being in 1993, and a decade ago it merged with the APMI, a separate organisation that was formed for firms that didn’t manufacture in the UK, but supplied UK printers and included major German, Swiss and Japanese manufacturers.  

Current Picon chairman Gerard Heanue, managing director of Heidelberg UK, said he had “mused on what those founding members would make of us today”.

“The protectionist policy that they set as their cornerstone at the end of the First World War has given way to a much more inclusive and international flavour.” he said.

“It was tough year for printers after the Great War, so nothing’s changed,” he noted, citing a report in the British & Colonial Printer & Stationer magazine that highlighted a major shortage of labour and materials.

“A considerable proportion of their type and metals was commandeered to make bullets”, he said. “And those original founding members would probably be shocked that I as chairman in 2018 represent a Germany manufacturer.

“However, they would have appreciated that Picon with its many activities, is as relevant today as it was 100 years ago. They would also have been delighted that print has proved remarkably resilient. Print is everywhere,” he concluded.

Current Picon chief executive Bettine Pellant is also the organisation’s first female boss, and in the historically male dominated world of printing equipment manufacturing, only one woman – Alison Bye of software developer Amicus Systems – has been chairman over the past century.

Pellant said she was proud to be involved with an organisation that had adapted to political, economic, and social change. “We remain relevant and proactive, creating opportunities to speak out on behalf of our sector and to create commercial opportunities, be that attending UK and international exhibitions for sales and growth or holding business forums to enable members to gain information and extend their skills.”

Bye was among a number of past chairmen who attended the centenary lunch, with guests including Roy Caslon of Caslon, and former industry bosses Laurence Roberts of Agfa, Wolfgang Gorth and George Clarke of Heidelberg, Martin Rickards of Komori and ex-Picon chief executive John Brazier, who was at the helm when Picon made the landmark decision to sell Ipex to IIR Exhibitions in 2006.

The book: Picon 1918-2018 The First 100 Years, was researched and written by Paul Foster, Simon Jamieson and Diana Thompson, with design by Darran Porter of PorterClarkeDesign.

Printed by Optichrome in Woking, the square-format PUR-bound hardback has a Brillianta black cloth cover with gloss black and silver foiling, with text pages printed on 170gsm Sappi GalerieArt Matt. It has a matching slipcase made using Fenner Colorset Nero.





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