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Portfolio - In-Depth Interviews Articles focussing on a key industry individual, be it an MD of an international company, or an industry go-getter

print ● ● ● pensord

People factor propels Pensord’s growth After five years at the helm of magazine printer Pensord, Tony Jones explains to Laura Blows how he has fulfilled his aim of doubling the company’s size/turnover within this time, through his focus on people and relationships.


’m not comfortable being credited as the person who changed the fortune of Pensord: it’s a combination of being in the right place at the right time, and the team we have here,” says Tony Jones, CEO of magazine printer Pensord. Modest he may be, but it is Jones’ focus on people, be it customers, staff or suppliers, which has certainly helped turn the fortunes around at this once struggling company. Five years on from his management buy out (MBO) in June 2003, Jones has made good on his stated aim to double the company’s size within five years. Pensord now produces more than twice the volume of work, from 121 to 330 titles, and has increased its financial performance by almost double, through an £8 million investment in equipment and a renewed dedication to customer and internal relationships. However, South Wales-based Pensord was not enjoying such auspicious times at the start of the Millennium. In 2000, Jones was brought in to head up Pensord, “which was loss-making, under-invested and suffering from low morale; the whole business needed a lot of attention”, he says. Jones set about improving the

business as much as possible, but with old equipment “there was only so far we could go without significant investment”. He says: “I had a choice: I could either walk away, putting people’s jobs at risk; I could just put up with it which was never a serious option; or I could undertake an MBO.” So the decision to conduct an MBO was made, and so came the possibility for investment. Pensord quickly took up this opportunity, investing in three Heidelberg Speedmaster eight-unit B1 perfector presses, and a Heidelberg five-colour B2 cover press incorporating a coating unit. A high-speed saddlestitching line and two folding machines have also been acquired since 2003, along with a new Buhrs mailing line and perfect binding equipment installed in January 2007, bringing Pensord’s investment in kit to £8 million since the buy out. On the prepress side, Pensord was an early investor in Agfa’s Delano webbased file delivery and approval system. Using Delano, clients are able to quickly and easily upload files, which Delano then automatically flightchecks and RIPs. The file is then placed back onto the system ready for the client to approve. Darren Coxon, commercial director

Pensord’s chief executive Tony Jones: “My aim was to change the culture of the business through honest, open communication.”

of Pensord, says: “Eighty percent of our periodical clients use Delano and this is rising. Agfa has informed us that within 18 months we were the leading company using this.” While the investment in kit and software helped to rejuvenate the company, that alone does not transform a business, Jones says. He explains: “As Pensord was so underinvested, it was necessary to invest heavily in a short period of time, to make the company more efficient, modern, and to bring it up to date. “Companies put a lot of focus on investment in kit, but not always enough on people and relationships. Investing in kit is just throwing money at an issue unless you make sure that people are motivated, well trained and able to maximise the efficiency benefits.” Improving the nature and attitude of the business was Jones’ first goal after the MBO. He says: “My aim was to change the culture of the business through honest, open communication, building trust with our customers, staff and business partners.” To kick start change, the Pensord Charter was launched in December 2003. Derived from Jones’ own personal values, the charter formalises Pensord’s

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print ● ● ● pensord

business ethics of putting the customer first, delivering quality, service and value for money, acting with honesty and integrity, developing a spirit of teamwork and committing to a broader social responsibility. However, as Jones says: “Anyone can just create a set of words and put them up on the wall; we want to make sure that we live by our values.” Having established a charter, the next step was to implement a free share option scheme in February 2004 for staff, which relinquished 25% of the company. This was, Jones says, to reward staff for their loyalty, as many of them had worked for the company for a number of years, and to motivate them to provide best in class service. Another initiative Pensord introduced was its Pensord People Development Academy. Launched last summer, the scheme helps establish how best to help individual staff members progress, be it through NVQs or internal training. It has also achieved the Investor in People standard, which (based on information provided by IiP and the British Printing Industries Federation), only 2% of printing companies have gained. The next stage was to live up to its social responsibility aim, by creating a charity fund, which has since gained charitable trust status. Pensord raises money for its trust in three ways: by employees participating in fund raising activity; donating £1 for each print project the company quotes on; and by contributing a share of the profits. The current employee-chosen charity Pensord is raising money for is the Hospice of the Valleys, for which £35,000 has been raised so far. Along with its social responsibility, Pensord takes its environmental impact seriously. It has achieved the ISO 14001 environmental management standard, which ensures Pensord minimises waste, promotes recycling, reduces energy and harmful emissions and works with ecologically sound suppliers. It has also obtained both FSC and PEFC certification, providing an assurance of traceability. Through the charter, shares scheme and charitable work, customer interest in Pensord began to grow, Jones says. He explains: “We were keen to spend a lot of time with people, letting them know our

Members of the Pensord team celebrate achieving its Investor in People status

objectives. In that way we can ensure we deliver high levels of service and optimise our efficiency rather than wasting time complaining about price, which is a market condition we can’t change. “We have always been strong in customer service and have many long-standing, loyal customers. As a

He says: “We are looking to extend our publisher offerings through providing added value beyond our printing services. Digital editions are one example of this and personalisation is another area we are watching with interest. “During the next five years our turnover will continue to grow and it is likely that non-print services will contribute significantly to this. Acquisitions may also be a possibility, but that depends on the right opportunity coming along.” Pensord may be anticipating a bright future now, but one could think that not every moment over the last five years was so enjoyable. However, Jones says he enjoys a challenge. He explains: “Personally, life got easier for me after the MBO, even though there was a lot of risk in the early stages. The most frustrating thing for me is that things

stable and progressive independent company, we take a long term view and customers appreciate the security and continuity of relationships which arise from this. Customer retention is high, so we must be doing something right.” Due to his background in marketing, Jones says that he does not tend to talk to customers about print, but instead talks to them strategically about their business. Another way Pensord seeks to understand the needs of its customers is by being a long-term supporter of the Periodical Publishers Association (PPA) as well as becoming the inaugural strategic sponsor of the Independent Publishers Advisory Council (IPAC). It is due to its understanding of customers’ needs that Pensord began offering digital editions to its customers earlier this year. Jones says: “Other printing companies may shy away from digital editions, thinking that it will take business away from them, but our aim is to serve publishers’ needs and we see these services as complementary to the printed product.” Working with YUDU Media, Pensord offers digital versions of publications, from simple page turners through to hyperlinks and audio and video content embedded within the pages. It can also provide publishers with tracking technology, enabling them to obtain statistics about user activity. Implementing digital editions is part of Jones’ plans for Pensord’s future growth.

never happen quickly enough, but as we have achieved all we set out to over the past five years I can’t complain. “The most difficult time throughout my career was actually the three years before the MBO, as I wanted to grow the company but wasn’t afforded the investment to do so.” Jones has certainly managed to grow the company now, and the reason for this success, he says, is simply sticking to what Pensord is good at. “Instead of just taking any work, we have a clear ‘best product’ policy and have all our equipment geared towards work of a magazine type format. This allows us to be more competitive, with a lower error rate and happy staff and customers as everyone is doing what they are good at,” he explains. When asked which achievement he is most proud of, it is to the company’s people that Jones turns his mind. He says: “The change in culture is what I am proud of, winning the hearts and minds of those involved with Pensord. We have built a business of open and honest communication. We have invested in people, and are making good, steady progress, but we are not complacent and I will never say that we are fully there.” The past five years has seen the company grow beyond recognition, and with Jones’ dedication to people and relationships, Pensord will hope to see many more years of this success. • | August 2008 | 25

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Predicting the future of online advertising


Online advertising’s upcoming issues and trends are the topic of conversation between the CEO and UK MD of digital marketing company AdLink, and Brand Management’s Laura Blows.


hatting away in a bustling hotel restaurant in London’s Soho district, Stéphane Cordier, CEO of digital marketing solutions provider AdLink may not seem like your standard clairvoyant. But having worked in the world of online media for 10 years, he is well placed to predict the key developments in the online advertising world. “More and more big name advertisers are shifting their international campaigns from TV to the internet. They are taking advantage of the various online marketing channels, along with emotionally appealing and personalised advertising formats, to actively involve target demographics in their brand environments.” The question is, where will this trend lead? German-based company AdLink Group is formed of five different segments: display advertising, affiliate marketing, online direct and one-to-one communications, domain marketing, and email advertising. Its clients include Renault, Mitsubishi, Peugeot, Zurich, Vodafone, Virgin and Orange. Last summer, the firm changed from having managing directors for each of the segments in each country to one overall managing director per country. Cordier explains the benefits of this: “The type of online advertising required depends on the needs of the product being advertised, for example whether it requires brand awareness or increasing sales. With this new system we can now change

Nicky Lapino – managing director AdLink Group UK Nicky Lapino joined the AdLink Group in 2005 when she was tasked with launching its affilinet affiliate marketing business in the UK. In July 2007 she was appointed UK MD of the entire UK AdLink Group business. Lapino was previously MD of affiliate company Commission Junction, where she launched the company in the UK before moving on to become COO of online advertising company dgm.

the types of media being used while a campaign is still running without hassle.” By consolidating the different aspects of the company, AdLink is mirroring a trend throughout the online industry. There has been a series of big acquisitions, such as search engine giant Google buying web advertising network DoubleClick for $3 billion in April 2007. Cordier says: “Consolidation is a good thing, as it will professionalise the industry, raise standards and making it easier for people to buy online.” He compares the current online situation with the 1970s debates about the relative marketing merits of TV and radio advertising. Cordier explains: “Most brand managers now understand the individual online marketing segments but there are not 50 years of track records showing how to combine these, so it is still an area of discovery.” Some industries have explored online marketing very effectively, Cordier says; notably the motor, mobile, travel, hi-tech and finance sectors. But that group does not include fast-moving consumer goods. Cordier points out that as people are increasingly shopping online, the FMCG sector is going to have to rise to the challenge and deliver more and better online marketing – and once it does that online marketing will “explode”. Online may be due to explode in the near future but it is already at a healthy size in Europe. Cordier quotes the Internet Advertising Revenue Report 2007, conducted by the Internet Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers, which revealed that in 2006 western European online advertising was a €7.9 billion market, with the UK accounting for €3.1 billion of this, followed by Germany and France. It also found that the UK, Germany, France and Netherlands have an almost equal percentage of online advertising share of between 9 and 13 per cent, with Netherlands having the highest amount, followed by the UK. In contrast, Italy and Spain only account for around 4 per cent of online ad share. Cordier is not surprised to find that the UK is a key player in the online advertising market. As an Englishman living in Paris, he has noticed that the UK is nine to 15 months ahead of mainland Europe in terms of adopting new online technologies. Nicky Lapino, UK MD for AdLink, adds that while the UK may adopt new technology more readily, it is not the country

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AdLink Group With 17 offices in 12 European countries and the USA, AdLink Group features five specialist divisions. These are: ■ AdLink Media Display marketing specialist that reaches more than 86m internet users, or one in two internet users in Europe.

■ affilinet affilinet provides online advertisers with an affiliate digital distribution channel. affilinet has over 1,500 affiliate programs and 400,000 websites registered throughout Europe. ■ net:dialogs net:dialogs is the specialist for online direct and one-to-

developing the technology itself. That accolade goes to the USA and Scandanavia. But she adds that the UK is more used to buying without seeing the goods first-hand. Cordier says: “In Europe, the further south you go the more people want to touch and smell what they are buying and walk away with it instantly. But in the UK catalogue shopping has been popular for a long time, meaning people have accepted ecommerce more readily.” Despite regional differences, Cordier says that the overall amount of online marketing in Europe is expected to double in the next five years, according to independent consultants Forrester Research, from €7.9 billion to €16 billion and by 2012 online marketing will represent 18 per cent of total media budgets. This increase in online advertising is being driven by a number of trends. For instance, Forrester predicts that the number of European consumers with home broadband access will rise from 47 million to 83 million in five years. Cordier also predicts that there will be a budget shift from TV to the internet. He says that a study by the European Interactive Advertising Association found that time spent online now accounts for 20 per cent of European media consumption, with TV suffering the most from this. He also feels that online adverts will become less generic, and will instead become more emotional and personalised in their targeting. One area that Cordier feels will make a massive impact is mobile internet, with online marketing research company emarketer predicting that the number of mobile internet users worldwide will reach 982 million by 2011. He says that the number of people accessing the internet on their mobile phone will grow rapidly due to increased broadband access and flat rates, and from the increased popularity of communities, multiplayer mobile games, user generated content and location-

one marketing. It provides consulting, conception, creative execution, campaign implementation and campaign optimisation. ■ Sedo Sedo is the domain marketing specialist with more than 8.8m domains available for sale. Sedo offers domain parking, domain name appraisals, domain name transfer and domain brokerage. ■ composite composite offers email marketing. As a supplier of permission marketing, composite hosts over 15m email addresses in six countries and, through its brokering network, has access to 50m records worldwide.

based services. From this, Cordier says that mobile advertising spend has been estimated to increase by 1,000%, from $1.4 billion in 2007 to $14.4 billion in 2011, accounting for a fifth of internet advertising global spending. Cordier adds that mobile still has some barriers to overcome, such as advertisers investing in mobile-compatible web sites. He says that another issue is that at the moment mobile phones cannot display a barcode that a shop till can read, meaning that advertisers can currently send users money off vouchers to their phone, but without a barcode it is impossible to track who is using the voucher, how much they spent and what products they bought. But whatever the precise issues, Cordier, Lapino and their colleagues at AdLink know that with internet advertising in all forms evolving fast, the future should be very rosy indeed.

Stéphane Cordier – chief executive officer AdLink Group Stéphane Cordier has been CEO of AdLink Group since 2002 and since his appointment, Cordier has enhanced AdLink Group’s portfolio into a full-service provider of turnkey solutions for permission marketing, performance-based marketing and brand marketing. Before joining AdLink Group’s executive management team, Cordier was vice president of European Media at DoubleClick Inc.

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insight ● ● ● interview

The daddy of print Nick Horsfield, print manager at designer nursery store Mamas & Papas, explains to Laura Blows how he transformed the company’s catalogues into high-quality printed products, using in-house proofing, colour management and high-definition cameras. Nick Horsfield: on a quest for quality with designer nursery store Mamas & Papas


ith an array of Mamas & Papas brochures from over the years spread over the table, Nick Horsfield’s mild-mannered tone hides his underlying passion for quality printing. He picks two brochures, identical at first sight, and uses a magnifying glass to compare the differences. It soon becomes apparent that for Horsfield, good is simply not good enough. Explaining his attitude to quality, Horsfield says: “With our catalogues the print quality could be fine to many but we want to really show the detail. A layman may not notice but that’s how critical we are.” It takes a sharp eye to notice the difference between the two brochures, but its thanks to Horsfield’s critical look that Mamas & Papas’ bi-annual product catalogue has been transformed from an unremarkable product to a catalogue that has many marvelling at how such quality print has been achieved. Mamas & Papas prints 205,000 copies of its twice-yearly product catalogue, in four different versions; one each for retail, wholesale, home shopping and franchises. The cover is sheetfed printed in the UK by Taylor Bloxham, with the 288-page text section and binding taking place at RR Donnelly’s Krakow plant in Poland, on Heidelberg 24pp web presses, as the job has been specifically designed for that press. The catalogue is printed on UPM Finesse stock. This has been the case for four years but Horsfield is currently reviewing papers. Horsfield’s skills were put to the test from his very first day working for Mamas & Papas, over three and a half

years ago. The day began with Horsfield and his creative director travelling to RR Donnelly’s old site in Krakow to press pass the catalogue. It was on press at 6am on a Sunday morning and it quickly became apparent that what was coming off the press bore no resemblance to the proofs. “It took five hours to get the print anywhere near the proofs, and even then it still wasn’t right,” Horsfield says. While there, both Horsfield and the creative director were taken around RR Donnelly’s new plant, featuring five 24pp Heidelbergs running alongside two perfect binding lines and three stitching lines. Finding out that Mamas & Papas had not been able to take advantage of this site as the catalogue was too large, Horsfield promptly requested a quote for a smaller sized catalogue without its laminate finish. The result was a saving of £50,000 each time on the catalogues produced twice a year. Horsfield’s expertise at producing high-quality print is the result of years of

experience in the industry. He began his career working as a graphic designer for seven years, before becoming a trainer at print shops. He then acquired experience in sales roles for first a repro company then a digital print organisation. It was at this time that Horsfield saw the job ad for Mamas & Papas. Following an interview where Horsfield explained how various printed products did and did not work, the job was his. The first catalogue Horsfield worked on for Mamas & Papas featured “block blacks and had no detail”. Realising that this needed to change, upon his return from Poland Horsfield began looking at how to manage colour internally, as the company was using an external repro company that was not calibrated to the Krakow site. Soon two Epson 4000 proofers, calibrated to RR Donnelly’s Polish site, were placed at Mamas & Papas HQ in Huddersfield. •

Continued on page 58

“With our catalogues the print quality could be fine to many but we want to really show the detail.” Nick Horsfield, Mamas & Papas 32 | April 2008 |

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insight ● ● ● interview

The daddy of print 20 screen. For general print, a hybrid 350

Mamas & Papas •

• •

Mamas & Papas formed in 1981, after David and Luisa Scacchetti struggled to find a suitable pram for their first child The company began in Huddersfield as a wholesaler, importing prams from Italy There are now 31 stores, selling a host of nursery equipment, toiletries, furniture, maternity and baby clothes, with the 32nd shop opening soon in Nottingham Mamas & Papas goods are available in its stores, through wholesalers, home shopping and online ordering In 2006, the first international franchise opened in Abu Dhabi. There are now stores in Dubai, Kuwait City and Doha Mamas & Papas is expected to achieve a turnover of approximately £130 million for 2007/8

Continued from page 32

Since Mamas & Papas took proofing in house, Horsfield says the company has moved to “the next step of colour evolution, closed loop colour”. This involves adopting the ISO 12647-2 colour standard, “which allows us to press pass by number rather than by eye”, Horsfield says. “Technically we no longer need to press pass but we still like to do so for artistic reasons.” For Horsfield, once he had improved the colour consistency, the following stage was to increase the level of detail within the printed images themselves. For this, high-definition wide-back cameras were used for the product catalogues. “Now we are producing pinsharp quality that is colour-correct,” says Horsfield. “The photography features a great deal more detail. For instance, a normal camera phone has five million pixels, but our cameras have 60 million pixels.” Looking into the benefits of screening became another factor in Horsfield’s improvement process. He says: “Screening is particularly suitable for catalogue production, it’s very good at showing the subtle differences in clothes and flesh tones.” Mamas & Papas uses a mix of stochastic and hybrid screens. The cover was converted to a Staccato 10 screen, with the text area produced on a Staccato

Mamas & Papas’ catalogue is produced twice yearly

screen is used. For Horsfield, it is just as important to “not cut corners” and concentrate on the processes before printing as it is to concentrate on the printing itself. He explains: “It’s not a matter of simply printing, but what happens beforehand that is so important. That’s why it is more and more key for me to get involved from base one.” The last 18 months have seen Horsfield fine tune the supplier base. “From a production and screening point of view, Taylor Bloxham is our premium printer, despite being a relatively new addition,” he says. Price is always a factor with printing, Horsfield admits, but Taylor Bloxham is used due to its expertise in screening. For large format printing, the printing firm Leach is used. “With printers a lot of getting it right is in the relationships, we can call up our printers for last minute work as we have close relationships,” Horsfield says. This relationship led to both Leach and Mamas & Papas working together to produce a new process called STIK two years ago. Using STIK for POS graphics, magnetic window graphics are printed on a Vutek press. This eliminates the need for a specialist installer to fit them, instead they are easily placed onto the infill. Previously the graphics cost £275 each, which featured an aluminium frame with magnets placed around the outer edge to which the graphics are connected. Using Vutex has reduced the cost to £135 each. Eleven of Mamas & Papas newest sites use STIK, with the rest being converted gradually as they get

redecorated. On Horsfield’s suggestion, the graphics for Mamas & Papas’ POS work is now produced in-house, as over £100,000 used to be spent on external companies producing the work for the company’s 30 sites. This has saved the company money, Horsfield says, but even more so it has resulted in faster reaction times. All the POS work is sent out on a Thursday, and Mamas & Papas is producing around 250,000 pieces a year, “not a lot for a commercial printer, but a lot for Mamas & Papas”, says Horsfield. Heading up “a team of one – me” Horsfield works closely with many departments at Mamas & Papas HQ. While Horsfield’s responsibility is the catalogue, he helps and offers advice to those on the creative team and the marketing directors. The changes to Mamas & Papas’ printed work have been a gradual, but smooth process. “There has never been a set path: as we face one issue it may lead us down another direction to solve it, that’s why flexibility is key,” Horsfield says. This gradual change to Mamas & Papas print has allowed Horsfield to save money for the company since day one, but he stresses the importance of spending that bit more for a better finished product. He explains: “Cost has never been questioned when it comes to improving the quality of print. We are constantly challenging our budgets. For example a job may cost £17,000 but if we can produce it better for £20,000 that’s fine, as long as we know the cost implications up front. We can also change the spec of a job to stay closer to the budget, such as moving from B1 to SRA1 to save money.” Continuing this improvement process, Horsfield is currently evaluating the software programme CMYK Optimizer that will produce calibrated PDFs, as well as producing a look and feel guide as an “internal bible”. Horsfield is not one to rest on his laurels, but he does feel ready to admit now that “from a print production point of view, I think we are nearly there”. •

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Taking one for the team The PPA Magazine Production Person of the Year accolade was awarded to Ross Harman of Incisive Media for his focus on teamwork and standardisation. Laura Blows finds out how he incorporated these values into his, and his colleagues, work. Incisive Media’s Ross Harman: “I wanted to ensure that classified worked the same across the board.”


oss Harman from Incisive Media has lost his voice. A welcome respite for the rest of his colleagues, he jokes, but it isn’t enough to stop the PPA’s latest Magazine Production Person of the Year from expressing his surprise at winning and the impact it has had for production at his company. He tells PMM: “Our whole production team are excellent, and I can’t say I’m particularly better than any of them so winning the award was a nice surprise. A lot of the time production is the ‘forgotten team’, but the award has been in the company newsletter so now the whole company is more aware of the work we do.” It is this focus on teamwork that impressed the PPA Awards judges’ enough to give the accolade to Harman, stating: “Ross’ dedication and initiative in creating and bettering internal systems for his team is impressive. He deserves to be commended by the industry at large.” As the judges note, Harman doesn’t just talk the talk with regards to teamwork, but has taken decisive steps to improve the way Incisive’s production team works. Having originally joined in 2002 in a consultancy role, Harman is now production executive on Incisive Media’s Central Production Team, comprising of 16 staff. His role is to handle the production for three of Incisive Media’s titles; Post Magazine, Cover and Professional Broking. He describes his duties as “handling the production sides of the magazines by chasing clients, flatplanning, ensuring the display and classified adverts are okay to print, liaising with printers and producing e-books of the magazines”. These may be his responsibilities, but Harman has gone beyond the call of duty in order to make the production department work in a standardised manner. A key area of this has been bringing the handling of classified adverts in-house. Harman says: “We used to outsource the handling of classified adverts to various

companies, but we brought it in-house around two years ago. I wanted to ensure that classified worked the same across the board. Display advertisements are also in house, and since classified came in-house, we now have the scope to handle more reprints internally. It’s all running smoothly, but we still have repro companies for backup in case any problems emerge.” Another area ripe for standardisation was flatplanning, as Harman explains: “The flatplanning system was all over the shop. Whenever I had to do some cover for people who were off work I would find everyone’s individual systems and processes difficult to learn. It was like an uphill battle. I’m trying to get everyone onto the system I created so that whenever we have to cover for someone we can just get going with the work without complications.” As the magazines that Harman handles are printed at Wyndeham Heron, which uses Agfa’s Delano online file upload and approval system, he was responsible for integrating Wyndeham’s system into the workflow. He explains: “Wyndeham Heron came to us about three years ago with Delano, and at the time we were a guinea pig for it, helping Wyndeham trial and understand the system. I’m pleased we got involved with Delano, as it has really helped us here a lot.” Despite Harman’s dedication to unify production, this was not initially

a career he had considered. “I wasn’t really aware of production as I came from a background in graphic design. However, my design knowledge helped with production, as understanding how software applications work, such as Adobe InDesign and Photoshop, has helped me find solutions to production problems. I also get to do some design work for Incisive when needed,” he says. Harman will also take on a new role from January, managing a team to bring online advertising management in house, as well as monitoring and tracking the adverts’ performance. While looking forward to this promotion, for Harman the biggest challenge will always be managing different teams’ requirements. He says: “It’s a juggling act; the sales team always want more time but the printers have their own requirements, so just getting that understanding between teams is the most difficult part of the job.” It may be a challenge, but for Harman, teamwork is also the best and most important part of his job, as well as the very reason he won his award. He says: “The best thing about production is the professional relationships that occur between clients, the team and myself. If you are in production but are not good at building relationships you fall at the first hurdle. If you’re good at that you’re doing the job right.” •

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supply chain

Crossing over Alliance & Leicester’s print manager, Mark Crane, explains to Laura Blows how having worked as both a print supplier and customer has helped improve the company’s printed products.


T’S SAID THAT THE GRASS IS These are then evaluated and awarded, always greener on the other side sometimes with as little as little as two and Mark Crane, print manager for hours to spare. The studio is notified as to Alliance & Leicester, decided to where the files are going. He adds that every find out just how green it is. During piece of work is checked thoroughly, going his career he has moved from the supplier through five departments to be signed off. side of print over to the customer’s, and has He adds that a print job can be turned never looked back. around in as little as two days if needed: He says: “Crossing over from supplier media inserts tend to be commissioned on to customer has given value to Alliance & a six-week cycle, with direct mail normally Leicester as I can offer an informed judgetaking two weeks. ment. I have the technical knowledge to understand what can be done for what price. “If you have only been on the buyer’s side throughout your career, it may be hard to understand the whole range of what is out there. Knowing how prices are broken down is vital for me as I know when it’s not right.� Alliance and Leicester has over 250 branches in the UK, all of which require display advertising, point of sale and in-store promotional leaflets. Crane is responsible for producing the Mark Crane’s experience in production helps in buying retail print for all of this, as well as direct marketing, door drops and inserts. Alliance and Leicester has a database Alliance & Leicester produces 600 million of around 20 suppliers from a number of inserts and between 700 to 800 million sectors. Crane says: “This has allowed us to individual printed items a year. build good strategic relationships that add Crane heads a team of three print buyvalue. It also shows a commitment from ers, whose role includes the day-to-day us that as long as they continue to work to management of the job to ensure it meets their usual standard, they can continue to deadlines and liaising between all comexpect work from us.� panies, “like a relationship manager�. He Price is a major factor, but even more says the department is a close team, and important is the quality of service, “deterthat their motto is “a good product for a mining who is the best choice overall to good price�. do the job.� The inhouse studio produces all work As well as updating the supply datawhich is then tendered out to its preselected base, Crane is currently working on the database, with a 24-hour turnaround on company’s CSR policy, ensuring that the quotes. report is adhered to. One part of the report

is about commitment to the community. For this, Crane says that he tries to ensure local printers are used, and all its print is produced within the UK. Environmental issues are part of CSR. As well as implementing a recycling scheme, a carbon offsetting policy group has been formed, looking at various ways to reduce the amount of carbon its activities produce. It has standardised on a part-recycled grade for this reason and to promote uniform quality. Crane says: “I went through an exercise of proving that recycled grades are just as attractive in terms of price and looks as virgin fibre.� Standardising paper has provided Alliance & Leicester with the security of improved colour consistency, but Crane warns that colour will always be a problematic issue. To help combat this, he has taken a number of steps. The key one is by issuing a number of colour branding sheets, such as silk and gloss versions, for a variety of print techniques. These sheets are sent throughout the supply chain, making sure that everything, from artwork to finishing is created in a consistent manner. Crane says: “The sheets have eliminated a number of colour errors that used to occur. I believe that if we set out standards from the word go then we will achieve consistency.� While Crane accepts that the environmental standard ISO 14001 is currently a hot topic for printers, he says that he would still like to see widespread adoption of the colour standard ISO 12647. He says: “If your business is to put colour on paper then surely you should be using industry leading standards.�



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Careless print costs money In his role as head of publications at the Central Office of Information, Philip Brimley looks to inject quality, service and value for money into central government printed communications, writes Laura Blows.


f central government’s most important aim is arguably to improve the life of its citizens, then the Central Office of Information (COI) works at the heart of this aim, ensuring that central government’s messages are actually received by the public in the most memorable, but cost effective way for taxpayers money. That ethos calls for strict requirements when buying print says Philip Brimley, head of publications for the COI. He explains: “The principles of our procurement are that we do a good spec that is sent to suppliers in plenty of time so that the suppliers have a fair amount of time to generate a quote, and competition rules must always be in place. We should also promote innovation, and should encourage SMEs to work with us.” Producing value for money, quality work is certainly a major part of the COI print department’s challenges. With 1,600 to 2,000 tenders produced annually and 2,500 tonnes of paper used, the COI handles an annual print spend of £5 million, a paper spend of £4 million and a typesetting spend of £1 million in its procurement of central government print. The COI was formed in 1946, replacing the wartime Ministry of Information. It works with central government departments and quangos, but not local authorities, to produce information campaigns, whether they are internal or for the public. These central government departments ask the COI to create many different methods of communication, from TV advertising to DVDs and CDs. The print aspect plays a major part in this, with anything from business cards to white/green paper reports or direct marketing materials being produced. A few notable examples of COI-produced work are the Preparing for Emergencies booklet and the recent London mayoral election’s printed communications.

Philip Brimley: “Our vision is to make ourselves so good at what we do that people would have to be crazy not to use us.”

Having always been attracted to a career in print, working for companies such as Remploy, the employment services provider for disabled people, and HMSO (Her Majesty’s Stationery Office), Brimley began working at COI 10 years ago as an account manager. Brimley took up the post of head of publications procurement a year ago. He heads up a procurement team of four, although 22 project managers feed the work into the procurement team. He says that his role is to make sure government legislation is adhered to regarding procurement, including European directives, “as we would be breaking the law otherwise”. Overseeing the juggling of central government’s print buying requirements with the procurement rules that must be adhered to is no easy task, but Brimley modestly describes his overall strategy as “just making sure the basics are done well so that the rest gets organised a lot easier”. A full range of printing services is offered by the COI, including web offset printing, envelopes, sheet-fed litho, posters, binders in plastic and board and printed plastic products. To procure print, COI uses three frameworks: one for printing, which has 76 companies; one for paper supply

with six suppliers (although this is set to change); and a framework for typesetting with five companies. There is also a framework for design work, with half of the COI’s creative work being put through the framework, and half of the design produced in-house. For internal prepress checking either the Adobe CS3 preflight software is used or Markzware’s FlightCheck. Brimley says: “In print everyone seems to say they know someone who can do it cheaper, but we assess our suppliers on more than just financial issues. We also look at their CSR policies such as ISO 14001 accreditation, which is rising in importance on the political agenda.” He adds that his team constantly evaluates the suppliers on the frameworks, “visiting them at least once a year to get a feel as to how they work as a company. Having a two-way talk with them gives us confidence about how they work”. For procuring paper and print, mini tenders are often conducted by selecting those companies most suitable for the job at hand. Brimley says: “This is so not to waste suppliers’ time with tenders they are unlikely to win. We want our suppliers to be confident that we play fair and if they receive a tender from us they have a fair chance of winning it. We know we are getting this right as the difference between the quotes is quite tight. “We also give our suppliers positive feedback on a monthly basis, explaining how many tenders they won, how many were sent out to them, how many they responded to and if they did not win the tender, where they came on the list. We pay within 30 days, so our suppliers know that we provide them with a guaranteed cash flow.” The software used to manage the tenders also ensures fair play, as Brimley •

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explains: “Once the COI has sent out tenders to suppliers, the quotes returned are ‘locked down’ by our tender software, meaning that no one can see what the quotes are before the tender has finished. “This ensures that there can be no allegations made of favouritism, as no one can be accused of watching the tender and calling up favoured companies advising them to adjust their quote. “At the end of the day we are very much accountable to people and administrators, so we have to be able to justify our decisions.” Proving that the COI operates in a manner promoting competition is just one issue facing Brimley and his print procurement team. During his 10 years at the COI Brimley has noticed turnaround times of print procurement reduce dramatically. He explains: “Overnight turnaround used to be rare when I started working here. They are not the norm yet, but they are becoming more common.” The creative stage of a project has to go through a longer process due to the public sector nature of the work. The COI has an information department which advises the publication department on which languages the project may need to be translated into. There is also a translation department with 400 freelance translators and four project managers, capable of translating projects into 49 different languages. Sometimes the project will also need to be converted into a sign video for the deaf and an audio tape for the blind. This can include some more unusual considerations. Brimley gives a recent example of a project promoting fruit and vegetables being sent out to schools. “Along with the various translations, we also had to change the images of the fruit for different ethnic groups to images of fruit that they may be more used to eating,” he explains. Having risen to the additional challenges of public sector procurement, and assuring that quality suppliers that meet COI’s clients’ print needs are on the framework, Brimley could be forgiven for resting on his laurels and letting print procurement simply tick along. However, Brimley is not one

This book let large-prin is available in Br aille, t and au dio versi ons. Visit ww w.londone lects. or ring 08 00 876 64 44. This boo klet is pub City Hall, lish The Queen ed by the Gre ate ’s Walk, London r London Return Designed SE1 2AA ing Office by Sherry r www.sher Printed by rydesign.c Commu nisis PLC on minimu April 200 m 50% 8 recycled paper

Careless print costs money The London mayoral election’s communications were just one of many central government’s print requirements procured by the COI

for such laissez faire attitudes, and instead continuously plans for both immediate and long-term improvements to the print procurement offering that the COI provides. Obtaining colour consistency is an issue Brimley is currently tackling. “We have implemented a colour management policy,” he explains, “because we are constantly buying print from different people within the framework and we found that the colour will sometimes look different.” To overcome this, COI developed its own colour profile guidelines earlier this year for its suppliers to match. Brimley says: “The benefits of this are already beginning to show as less money is being spent on wet proofs.” The COI profile is also being rolled out to its external design agencies, with the COI’s in-house Macs colour calibrated using eye-One Match software, “helping our printers produce work that is ISO 12647 compliant”. Internal proofing is conducted using an epson 7600 printer driven by gMg ColorProof o4. While Brimley and his team may have a wealth of experience in the print procurement sector, they are open to supplier suggestions for ways to improve the print production process; in fact they positively encourage it. Brimley explains: “In the last three months we have started implementing our innovation scheme. On the specs

sent out we say that if a supplier can think of a way we can do the job that will increase the benefit to the client, they will be guaranteed the job if their idea is accepted. “So if a supplier does not win the tender based on price, but has a successful innovation idea, they will become the first choice supplier.” He adds that he is currently working on promoting this scheme to suppliers. Updating the paper framework is another project for the COI’s publications department (see PMM May 2008). Brimley plans for the updated paper framework to host a wide range of suppliers covering silk, matt, gloss and uncoated grades in both sheets and reels. Once the paper framework is updated, work will begin on updating the print supplier framework. An e-tender site is currently used for large eU framework and contract work, but the print and paper tenders are not conducted on the site, but instead are faxed to suppliers. Brimley is optimistic that both the paper and typesetting framework will move online to an e-procurement site this year. However he admits that moving the print framework online will prove to be a more complex process compared to the paper tender due the large number of print suppliers. By continuously finding ways to further improve the publications department, Brimley is confident that the COI’s clients receive quality print, good service and value for the taxpayers’ money. He explains: “The central government departments choose to use us for their print requirements as we have the print expertise they may not have and we can provide them with value for money. Our vision is to make ourselves so good at what we do that people would have to be crazy not to use us.” •

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Laura Blows Portfolio - Indepth Interview  
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