Stephen Egerton A chartered surveyor by qualification, Egerton joined the printing industry in 2011 after spending the bulk of his career in the corporate property world – at one point he was managing a portfolio of thousands of UK properties worth circa £5bn. Egerton, who is an expert in business analysis and cost management, was brought in as a consultant by Staffordshire-based B3 trade print house KJB UK in 2011 after it noticed its margins were declining rapidly.
“As a result of the analysis, we saw that B3 work was being poached by B2 and digital,” says Egerton. He recommended the company invest in digital equipment and thanks to the investment KJB enjoyed a “massive growth spurt”. KJB’s owners were so impressed by his insights that Egerton was invited to join the business as a director. His appointment coincided with a significant period of activity at the printing company.
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To start with there was a frenzy of investment in new equipment from 2011-16, which allowed KJB to bring a significant volume of work in-house. Then, in 2017, the company made its first business acquisition, snapping up Shrewsbury-based wide-format specialist Creative Digital Printing Solutions. The following year Egerton was at it again, this time buying Walsall-based WM Printing Solutions.
“Last year we did £4.45m and in 2019 we’re forecasting £5.35m – that’s a £900,000 increase through organic growth,” says Egerton. And he’s not done there. Egerton, who today serves as group commercial director, says he’s looking for further acquisition of a printing business with a turnover of between £400,000-£2m in the Midlands.
“Our business model is a hub and spoke. The KJB group is the hub that does all of the HR, finance, credit, and procurement. That supports the other production sites, wherever they may be. This model allows us to be more streamlined and efficient and the turnover per employee is better.” To Egerton, the key to future survival in the printing industry is scale and commercial awareness. “Those that aren’t prepared to evolve and fail to acknowledge that scale is important will not survive,” he adds. “But print will never be dead because we produce a tactile product that is required.”
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