Our fresh approach is unique; with a disruptive mission to provide sustainable solutions we are a consortium of industry FREElance professionals who use our extensive knowledge of print and signage to deliver the best print at the best price by the best people.
We connect buyer directly with supplier and support in negotiating pricing structures, rates and service level agreements, advice on best substrates, applications and solutions that demonstrate innovation and sustainability as well as supporting project management, creative design and logistics.
What is probably of most interest to the clients we work with is that we offer all of this for FREE; they don’t pay us to work for them.
Our business model, is transparent, agile and adaptable; we are both flexible and impartial allowing us to work as if we were a member of your own team.
We have strong relationships with a multitude of major print and signage suppliers across the UK along with knowledge of their strengths and weaknesses that allows us to know which company is best suited for what work. Our services include freelance print & signage procurement & buying, freelance project management, print & sustainability consultancy, surveying, creative artwork & design, logistics, business development and recruitment.
Pre-Covid there were circa 12,000 print and signage companies in the UK with around 134,000 employees and a turnover in excess of £14.5billion. (In 2010 there were around 15,000 print and signage companies with circa 165,000 employees and a turnover in excess of £15.5billion).
Competition is fierce with a number of “big players” struggling to cover operating costs and eventually liquidating or being forced in to acquisition.
In sectors such as retail, outdoor media and advertising, digital screens have replaced traditional print static sites.
Some print and signage companies have recognised this and have adapted and pivoted their businesses to include digital within their offering however many more have not embraced digital and stand firm on their core business.
Reduces the barrier to entry as “plug and play” technology and reduced start-up costs allow for more companies to enter the market including “garage or garden shed” operations that have reduced overheads that allow them to be more competitively priced in certain areas.
One area of concern is that the “skill” is being taken out of the industry and some manufacturers are now in fact pushing back to companies like HP, EFI and Durst to address this.
Whilst innovation in print technology has slowed in the last couple of years and the focus switches to more sustainable solutions in the form of energy consumption, inks and materials, many print and signage companies have struggled to keep up with advancement and can sometimes fall behind whilst they secure a return on their investment.
Availability and inflation of costs of raw materials, increases in freight, logistics and import costs. Many suppliers are reporting poor availability on goods such as acrylic, polycarbonate and timber as well as display products such as Foamex increasing in price as much as 30% vrs pre-Covid.
However as a positive , display material suppliers are predicting little impact and less fluctuation in costs on sustainable/PVC free materials as a result of the recyclability process/material availability and that many of these products are manufactured in the UK rather than Europe, Middle East or Asia.
It is therefore likely we will see more sustainable pricing on sustainable materials
Often technology driven with the appeal of buying power and a single source for all enquiries. The reality is that these businesses often lack technical print knowledge and experience and therefore rely heavily on the manufacturers for innovation and support.
The model can often be very much margin driven with suppliers being pushed for the best price to maximise the mark-up opportunity for the PMC along with hefty compulsory rebate and technology fees that typically leave a manufacturers gross profit at around 15-30% less on average for this kind of work.
Suppliers often cite a lack of loyalty, transparency and feedback as well as “best price wins” and waisted time and resource as being the biggest frustrations when working with print management companies.
Like many industries the last 18 months have been challenging for print and signage companies with projects cancelled or suspended and budgets cut.
The British Printing Industries Federation and International Signage Association UK are concerned around the future of businesses and many thousands of employees as the Furlough scheme comes to an end at the end of September 2021, citing potential reductions in work and a lack of opportunities together with huge operating costs and financial holes likely contributors.
Concerns around impact on the economy and uncertainty resulting in budget costs and projects being suspended or cancelled. Import/export of goods and potential increase in material costs on imported goods due to higher tariffs.
As previously mentioned competition is fierce particularly when competing with similar plant and substrates.
Innovation, creativity and service are therefore quite often the USP’s and points of difference that a print and signage company will put forwards however on the other hand many buyers will often state that quality and service are a given and price is key – often this results in a price war and a so called race to the bottom where print and signage companies fight to win work and even “buy” contracts in order to secure turnover.
In the last decade SQM Rates have continued to drop and margins continually squeezed and lead times reduced as suppliers look to engineer costs though leaner manufacturing process and operations, reduced waste and better sourcing and procurement.
A huge amount of options and choice for clients can result in polarised pricing and uncertainty around best solutions.
We are working within the following sectors, with a goal to promote and educate clients to ensure 100% sustaibile products are used within their Print & Signage needs