Why North Wolds Printers in Pocklington is investing in new machinery

Gurdev Singh, owner of North Wolds Printers. Pic: James Hardisty.
Gurdev Singh, owner of North Wolds Printers. Pic: James Hardisty.
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A small printing firm in Pocklington has invested in new machinery and a mezzanine floor to help with its packing operations, despite an uncertain economic backdrop.

North Wolds Printers was acquired by print sector veteran Gurdev Singh in 2014 after he saw an advert in The Yorkshire Post saying it was for sale.

Since acquiring the business, Mr Gurdev has helped grow North Wolds’ turnover from £1.2m to £1.8m.

The firm has now completed a £320,000 transformation of its factory near York with the installation of a new printing press and mezzanine level fulfilment facilities.

Mr Singh told The Yorkshire Post that the investment was driven by the business securing a new two-year contract with its largest client, a training provider. North Wolds has been working with the training provider for the past decade.

“It’s not enough just to be a printer nowadays,” Mr Singh said. “You have to provide a much deeper service for your clients.”

He added that the new fulfilment facility will enable the firm to do just that.

North Wolds, which has 18 full-time staff, said the new Komori Lithrone L529 printing press, which has replaced the previous L526 model, is faster, more efficient and has specialist coating and drying facilities.

The newer machine will enable quicker turnaround times and a higher quality finish, the firm added.

So far the only impact of the Brexit vote on the business has been the rise in price of paper as a result of the collapse in the value of the pound.

Mr Singh is concerned that a no-deal Brexit could lead to shortage in paper supply with all of it coming from continental Europe.

He said: “What we’re worried about is disruption to paper. Mostly it comes across at Calais, as with all paper in the UK. It comes from the continent.

“Our jobs are not quite on-demand but we only have really short lead times. If your paper is delayed for a day or two you’re not going to be able to make those deliveries.

“Larger companies will be able to hold more paper than us so it could cause us problems. We’re aware of it but we can’t really do much about it until it happens.”

The business is already looking to weather shortages the best that it can. Mr Singh has good relationships with paper merchants and they’ll hold some stock for the firm.

However, that does mean that the firm will have more cash tied up in stock.

“Cash is king when you’re a small business,” Mr Singh said. “We’re going to have to expose ourselves to much greater cash debits.”

Mr Singh is a veteran of the printing industry having held the position of managing director at both Communisis and Howitt. North Wolds is the first printing business that he has owned himself, having acuired it from Norman Sykes, who established the firm back in 1978.

Mr Sykes’ son Chris Sykes works with Mr Singh as sales director at North Wolds.

This recent investment signals the start of a five-year growth plan for the firm.

“We’d like to get turnover up to about £2.25m at least over the next five years,” Mr Singh said. “We’ll probably need to put another shift on and that will be another six or seven jobs I reckon.”

The key to the business doing well has been its focus on quality and service, according to Mr Singh.

He is also optimistic about the wider print sector’s future saying that it is finding its place next to digital marketing.