Print firm sets sights on expansion

A YORKSHIRE printing firm, which was set up in the reign of Queen Victoria, helped Britain's war effort and has been in the same family for five generations, is set to grow after completing work on landmark publishing projects for marine group Lloyd's Register and Bradford City football club.

Hart & Clough, today run by Richard Clough, the great-great-grandson of co-founder Ezra Clough, plans to invest in new printing equipment which will help the company expand after suffering a disappointing year in 2009.

Mr Clough, the managing director, said the firm hoped to buy a replacement 250,000 printing press as it uses its 125th anniversary as a stepping-stone to winning new business. Last month, it invested in a plate-making machine and, in 2009, spent 75,000 on a laminating machine.

The firm, which was founded in Bradford in 1885, recently produced Lloyd's 250, a 400-page history of Lloyd's Register. It printed 15,000 copies of the book, which was launched in December and which the marine, energy and rail group distributed to staff and key clients to mark its 250th anniversary.

Hart & Clough also printed Glorious 1911, a tome marking the centenary of Bradford City's appearance in the 1911 FA Cup Final, when they beat Newcastle United in a replay.

The book was written by David Pendleton, the curator

of the club's bantamspast museum.

As well as books, the company, based in Cleckheaton, in West Yorkshire, makes business stationery, packaging and point-of-sale material for use in shops, and shade cards.

Today, it turns over 2.4m and hopes to increase that figure beyond 2.5m.

Mr Clough said performance had picked up last year after a quiet 2009, when companies across Britain cut the budgets of their marketing departments.

"It was pretty good in 2010. It started very well in January, February and March. It slowed a bit in the summer and picked up again at the end of the year."

The firm has also benefited from its longevity, he added, because there is a greater sense of trust among clients.

"A lot of work comes through word-of-mouth and recommendations. People do appreciate dealing with a long-established company. It gives them a bit of security that when they come back for a re-print, there is some consistency there.

"If you have your job done from a printer that disappears then your artwork tends to disappear with the printer – which leaves you in a mess when you want to order the same job again.

"We do get the impression that people like to deal with somebody who has been around for a long time."

In 2005, the firm, which has 35 staff and its own designer, studio and finishing department, produced a commemorative book for former racing driver Sir Stirling Moss to mark the 50th anniversary of his victory in the Mille Miglia, a road race around the streets of Italy.

Perhaps the greatest impact made by one of its products, however, was during the Second World War, when Hart & Clough made instruction books for Avro, which manufactured Lancaster bombers at the former Yeadon Airport, now Leeds-Bradford International.

Hart & Clough also makes waterproof products for paramedics which are used to "triage" or assess casualties at the scene of an accident, and shade cards, which are used by carpet firms to showcase their patterns.

Mr Clough said Yorkshire is still a "hotbed" for the productions of shade cards.

The firm, which owns book and magazine printer Amadeus, is part of a large print industry in Yorkshire, although the trade which has endured some difficult times over the last 30 years. It ranges from listed companies like marketing and printing group Communisis, the Leeds-based business which has in recent years shifted from being a traditional print firm to a "marketing services provider", to small independent publishers.

Figures published last year showed the print industry in Yorkshire makes a 1.7bn contribution to the region's economy and provides employment for 18,000 people in 1,130 companies.

Print Yorkshire was launched in 2004, with backing from Yorkshire Forward and the British Print Industries Federation, to promote the interests of the print and printed packaging sector in this region.

Small and medium-sized enterprises are the lifeblood of the Yorkshire economy and we want to hear from you. If your firm has won new business, has expansion plans or has developed an exciting new product, then please contact Peter Edwards at the Yorkshire Post business desk on 0113 238 8960 or peter.edwards@ypn.co.uk

Hart & Clough: The history

The firm was set up by George Hart on Swaine Street at Bradford's Forster Square, in 1885. It expanded quickly, and stationery shop manager Ezra Clough joined three years later, before the business became Hart & Clough in the 1890s.

Mr Clough's son, Vincent, joined the business in 1907, allowing George Hart to retire in 1910. Although the firm continues to bear Mr Hart's name, his family's involvement ended with his departure. The full details are unknown but Richard Clough said it was either because he was childless or because his descendants did not wish to get involved.

In 1916, Vincent Clough went to fight in the First World War and returned two years later, having been seriously wounded.

The business continued throughout the 20th century and in 1989 it bought The Amadeus Press in Huddersfield, a specialist book and magazine printer.

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