Laura Blows Portfolio - Indepth Interview
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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
24 | August 2008 | www.printmediamag.co.uk
People factor propels Pensords growthAfter five years at the helm of magazine printer Pensord, Tony Jones explains to Laura Blows how he has fulfilled his aim of doubling the companys size/turnover within this time, through his focus on people and relationships.
Im not comfortable being credited as the person who changed the fortune of pensord: its 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
Five years on from his management
buy out (MBo) in June 2003, Jones
has made good on his stated aim to
double the companys 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 peoples 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
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 pensords investment in kit to 8
million since the buy out.
on the prepress side, pensord was
an early investor in Agfas delano web-
based 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
Pensords 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
While the investment in kit and
software helped to rejuvenate the company,
that alone does not transform a business,
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
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 pensords
Pensord.indd 1 15/8/08 15:59:59
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
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
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
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
www.printmediamag.co.uk | August 2008 | 25
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 cant change.
We have always been strong
in customer service and have many
long-standing, loyal customers. As a
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
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
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
Implementing digital editions is part of
Jones plans for Pensords future growth.
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
never happen quickly enough, but as we
have achieved all we set out to over the
past five years I cant complain.
The most difficult time throughout
my career was actually the three years
before the MBO, as I wanted to grow
the company but wasnt 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,
When asked which achievement he
is most proud of, it is to the companys
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.
Pensord.indd 2 15/8/08 16:00:51
wwwPredicting the future of online advertisingOnline advertisings upcoming issues and trends are the topic of conversation between the CEO and UK MD of digital marketing company AdLink, and Brand Managements Laura Blows.
Chatting away in a bustling hotel restaurant in Londons
Soho district, Stphane Cordier, CEO of digital market-
ing solutions provider AdLink may not seem like your
But having worked in the world of online media for 10 years,
he is well placed to predict the key developments in the online
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
The question is, where will this trend lead?
German-based company AdLink Group is formed of fi ve different
segments: display advertising, affi liate marketing, online direct
and one-to-one communications, domain marketing, and email
Its clients include Renault, Mitsubishi, Peugeot, Zurich,
Vodafone, Virgin and Orange.
Last summer, the fi rm changed from having managing directors
for each of the segments in each country to one overall managing
director per country.
Cordier explains the benefi ts 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
the types of media being used while a campaign is still running
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 fi nance
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
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 fi nd 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
Nicky Lapino managing director AdLink Group UK
58 | January/February 2008 | brand management
Nicky Lapino joined the AdLink Group in 2005 when she was tasked with launching its affi linet affi liate 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 affi liate company Commission Junction, where she launched the company in the UK before moving on to become COO of online advertising company dgm.
Adlink.indd 2 28/1/08 15:07:35
brand management | January/February 2008 | 59
Stphane Cordier chief executive offi cer AdLink Group
Stphane Cordier has been CEO of AdLink Group since 2002 and since his appointment, Cordier has enhanced AdLink Groups portfolio into a full-service provider of turnkey solutions for permission marketing, performance-based marketing and brand marketing.
Before joining AdLink Groups executive management team, Cordier was vice president of European Media at DoubleClick Inc.
wwwPredicting the future of online advertising
developing the technology itself. That accolade goes to the USA
But she adds that the UK is more used to buying without seeing
the goods fi rst-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 fi ve 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 fi ve 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 fl at rates, and from the increased popularity of communities,
multiplayer mobile games, user generated content and location-
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 fi fth of internet advertising
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
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.
With 17 offi ces in 12 European countries and the USA, AdLink Group features fi ve specialist divisions. These are:
AdLink MediaDisplay marketing specialist that reaches more than 86m internet users, or one in two internet users in Europe.
affi linetaffi linet provides online advertisers with an affi liate digital distribution channel. affi linet has over 1,500 affi liate programs and 400,000 websites registered throughout Europe.
net:dialogsnet:dialogs is the specialist for online direct and one-to-
one marketing. It provides consulting, conception, creative execution, campaign implementation and campaign optimisation.
SedoSedo 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.
compositecomposite 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.
wwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwWith 17 offi ces in 12 European countries and the USA, With 17 offi ces in 12 European countries and the USA, With 17 offi ces in 12 European countries and the USA, wwwWith 17 offi ces in 12 European countries and the USA, wwwAdLink Group features fi ve specialist divisions. These are:AdLink Group features fi ve specialist divisions. These are:AdLink Group features fi ve specialist divisions. These are:wwwAdLink Group features fi ve specialist divisions. These are:www AdLink MediaAdLink MediaDisplay marketing specialist that reaches more than 86m Display marketing specialist that reaches more than 86m
wwwDisplay marketing specialist that reaches more than 86m
wwwinternet users, or one in two internet users in Europe. internet users, or one in two internet users in Europe.
affi linetaffi linet provides online advertisers with an affi liate digital
one marketing. It provides consulting, conception, creative wwwone marketing. It provides consulting, conception, creative wwwwwwexecution, campaign implementation and campaign wwwwwwoptimisation. www www wwwSedowwwSedowwwSedo 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.
Adlink.indd 3 28/1/08 15:07:39
years ago. The day began with Horsfield
and his creative director travelling to RR
Donnellys 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 wasnt
right, Horsfield says.
While there, both Horsfield and the
creative director were taken around
RR Donnellys new plant, featuring five
24pp Heidelbergs running alongside two
perfect binding lines and three stitching
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.
Horsfields expertise at producing
high-quality print is the result of years of
Nick Horsfield, print manager at designer nursery store Mamas & Papas, explains to Laura Blows how he transformed the companys catalogues into high-quality printed products, using in-house proofing, colour management and high-definition cameras.
experience in the industry. He began his
career working as a graphic designer for
seven years, before becoming a trainer at
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
Soon two Epson 4000 proofers,
calibrated to RR Donnellys Polish site,
were placed at Mamas & Papas HQ in
With an array of Mamas & Papas brochures from over the years spread over the table, Nick Horsfields mild-mannered
tone hides his underlying passion for
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 thats how
critical we are.
It takes a sharp eye to notice the
difference between the two brochures,
but its thanks to Horsfields 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 Donnellys 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
Horsfields skills were put to the
test from his very first day working for
Mamas & Papas, over three and a half
32 | April 2008 | www.printmediamag.co.uk
Continued on page 58
The daddy of printNick Horsfield: on a
quest for quality with designer nursery store
Mamas & Papas
With our catalogues the print quality could be fine to many but we want to really show the detail. Nick Horsfield, Mamas & Papas
InsightInterviewApr08.indd 1 2/4/08 09:19:46
The daddy of print
58 | April 2008 | www.printmediamag.co.uk
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
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
Looking into the benefits of
screening became another factor in
Horsfields improvement process. He
says: Screening is particularly suitable
for catalogue production, its 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
20 screen. For general print, a hybrid 350
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: Its not a matter of simply
printing, but what happens beforehand
that is so important. Thats why it is more
and more key for me to get involved from
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
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,
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
On Horsfields 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 companys 30
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 Horsfields responsibility is the
catalogue, he helps and offers advice
to those on the creative team and the
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,
thats 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
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 thats 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
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.
Mamas&Papasformedin1981,afterDavidandLuisaScacchetti struggled to find a suitable pram for their first
ThecompanybeganinHuddersfieldasawholesaler,importing prams from Italy
Therearenow31stores,sellingahostofnurseryequipment, toiletries, furniture, maternity and baby
clothes, with the 32nd shop opening soon in Nottingham
Mamas&Papasgoodsareavailableinitsstores,through wholesalers, home shopping and online
In2006,thefirstinternationalfranchiseopenedinAbuDhabi. There are now stores in Dubai, Kuwait City and
Mamas&Papasisexpectedtoachieveaturnoverofapproximately 130 million for 2007/8
Mamas & Papas
Mamas & Papas catalogue is produced twice yearly
InsightInterviewApr08.indd 2 2/4/08 09:19:49
40 | December 2008 | www.printmediamag.co.uk
Taking one for the teamThe 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.
Ross Harman from Incisive Media has lost his voice. A welcome respite for the rest of his colleagues, he jokes, but it isnt enough to
stop the PPAs 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 cant say Im
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
doesnt just talk the talk with regards to
teamwork, but has taken decisive steps
to improve the way Incisives production
team works. Having originally joined in
2002 in a consultancy role, Harman is now
production executive on Incisive Medias
Central Production Team, comprising of
His role is to handle the production
for three of Incisive Medias 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. Its 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 everyones individual systems
and processes difficult to learn. It was
like an uphill battle. Im 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
As the magazines that Harman
handles are printed at Wyndeham Heron,
which uses Agfas Delano online file upload
and approval system, he was responsible
for integrating Wyndehams 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. Im pleased we got
involved with Delano, as it has really helped
us here a lot.
Despite Harmans dedication to
unify production, this was not initially
Incisive Medias Ross Harman: I wanted to ensure that classified
worked the same across the board.
a career he had considered. I wasnt
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:
Its 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 youre good at that youre doing
the job right.
Ross_Harman.indd 1 11/12/08 14:14:42
ITS SAID THAT THE GRASS IS always greener on the other side and Mark Crane, print manager for Alliance & Leicester, decided to find out just how green it is. During
his career he has moved from the supplier side of print over to the customers, and has never looked back.
He says: Crossing over from supplier to customer has given value to Alliance & Leicester as I can offer an informed judge-ment. I have the technical knowledge to understand what can be done for what price.
If you have only been on the buyers 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 its 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 retail print for all of this, as well as direct marketing, door drops and inserts. Alliance & Leicester produces 600 million inserts and between 700 to 800 million individual printed items a year.
Crane heads a team of three print buy-ers, whose role includes the day-to-day management of the job to ensure it meets deadlines and liaising between all com-panies, like a relationship manager. He says the department is a close team, and that their motto is a good product for a good price.
The inhouse studio produces all work which is then tendered out to its preselected database, with a 24-hour turnaround on quotes.
These are then evaluated and awarded, sometimes with as little as little as two hours to spare. The studio is notified as to where the files are going. He adds that every piece of work is checked thoroughly, going through five departments to be signed off.
He adds that a print job can be turned around in as little as two days if needed: media inserts tend to be commissioned on a six-week cycle, with direct mail normally taking two weeks.
Alliance and Leicester has a database of around 20 suppliers from a number of sectors. Crane says: This has allowed us to build good strategic relationships that add value. It also shows a commitment from us that as long as they continue to work to their usual standard, they can continue to expect work from us.
Price is a major factor, but even more important is the quality of service, deter-mining who is the best choice overall to do the job.
As well as updating the supply data-base, Crane is currently working on the companys CSR policy, ensuring that the 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 activi-ties 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 environ-mental 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.
Alliance & Leicesters print manager, Mark Crane, explains to Laura Blows how having worked as both a print supplier and customer has helped improve the companys printed products.
Crossing oversupply chain
Mark Cranes experience in production helps in buying
SupplyChain.indd 1 14/1/08 14:56:02
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.
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 COIs 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
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
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
The software used to manage the
tenders also ensures fair play, as Brimley
28 | June 2008 | www.printmediamag.co.uk
Continued on page 66
Careless print costs money
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 Majestys 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
governments 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
If central governments 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 governments messages are
actually received by the public in the most
memorable, but cost effective way for
That ethos calls for strict
requirements when buying print says
Philip Brimley, head of publications for
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
Producing value for money, quality
work is certainly a major part of the COI
print departments 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
elections 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.
InsightInterview.indd 1 6/6/08 13:08:05
This booklet is available in Braille, large-print and audio versions. Visit www.londonelects.org.uk
or ring 0800 876 6444.This booklet is published by the Greater London Returning Officer
City Hall, The Queens Walk, London SE1 2AADesigned by Sherry www.sherrydesign.co.uk
Printed by Communisis PLC on minimum 50% recycled paper
Careless print costs money
66 | June 2008 | www.printmediamag.co.uk
Continued from page 28
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
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 COIs 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
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 COIs 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
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 COIs 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
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
By continuously finding ways
to further improve the publications
department, Brimley is confident that
the COIs clients receive quality print,
good service and value for the taxpayers
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.
The London mayoral elections communications were just one of many central governments print requirements procured by the COI
This booklet is available in Braille, large-print and audio versions. Visit www.londonelects.org.uk
or ring 0800 876 6444.This booklet is published by the Greater London Returning Officer
City Hall, The Queens Walk, London SE1 2AADesigned by Sherry www.sherrydesign.co.uk
Printed by Communisis PLC on minimum 50% recycled paper
Discover more market sector articles at
InsightInterview.indd 2 6/6/08 13:08:17