Twenty Four Seven Design & Print has invested in the UK’s first imagePress C9010VP from Canon to futureproof the business as it waits for its key customer base to return.
The Warrington-based firm took delivery of the digital cut-sheet colour toner production press in late December. It replaced an outgoing imagePress C6000, which was part-exchanged.
The business has had to pivot to new types of work and has taken on new customers during the coronavirus pandemic, as 85% of its turnover usually comes from the live concert industry, which has been out of action since last March.
Managing director Alan Burton told Printweek the “fantastic niche market to be in” has stopped but has not gone away.
“All our customers are telling us ‘when we’re back, you’re back’. So by hook or by crook, we have to stay in business until they ring. It’s just been a question of trying to find new markets, and finding the work is a difficult thing because nowhere is open.”
He said the company’s turnover fell to about 15% of normal at the start of the pandemic.
It quickly adapted to use some of the spare capacity it suddenly had to produce Covid-related print including Perspex signage and hospital floor graphics, and it had got its turnover back up to around 50% of normal in December, prior to the third national lockdown starting last week.
“We’re trying to see it as a positive that if 85% of our customers are still there, and are going to come back to us, if we’re currently running at more than 50% of our turnover, we should be in a good position when everything comes back,” said Burton.
“Somewhere along the line we’ve managed to source some different types of work that will hopefully still be here when our key business comes back.”
The business, which started as a specialist screen printer but now operates litho and digital, including wide-format, has seen its digital side grow to account for around 50% of its turnover.
The new Canon printer was taken on to meet this digital growth and to help futureproof the business for when the pandemic starts to subside.
“Making the investment now gives us time to bring the machine in, do all the upgrade training and train certain members of our staff on it, including litho printers and finishers,” said Burton.
“We have good, loyal staff that have been with us over 20 years that are of value to us, but if for instance we don’t envisage that we’re going to have as much litho work in the future, we want to migrate to training them on the digital side as we want to keep the people.
“If they’re happy to do two days’ worth of litho printing and three days’ worth of digital printing, their job is safe as a business. And if, heaven forbid, we have to close, they’ve got an extra skillset.”
The 15-staff business includes three directors, who are the only employees that have been working full-time during the pandemic. It has made use of the flexible furlough scheme to offer the other staff work as and when it comes in.
The imagePress C9010VP prints up to 90 A4 duplex pages per minute – a 50% max speed increase on Twenty Four Seven’s previous machine – and can handle stocks from 60-400gsm. The company’s machine is also specified with a long sheet feeder to enable it to handle sheet lengths up to 762mm duplex or 1,300m simplex.
“We’ve gone for a machine that will do quicker prints, thicker materials, and a better click charge than we were already on – making more jobs cheaper to run digitally,” said Burton.
Operating from circa-140sqm premises situated midway between Liverpool and Manchester, Twenty Four Seven Design & Print predominantly services clients in the two cities.
It also operates a five-colour B2 Heidelberg Speedmaster 74 litho press, wide-format equipment including an Arizona and a Colorado from Canon, and a full gamut of finishing equipment.