The JPS team celebrating at The Ivy, London
Reflecting on the past, present and future of print in the digital age
Since 1994 independent print management specialist JPS Limited has built a reputation among retailers and print suppliers for exceptional levels of service, quality and technical knowledge.
Reflecting on a quarter of a century, directors John and Bridget Petty discuss changes in the industry, how JPS has adapted to provide fully integrated solutions, and their views on the future of print. Newly appointed director Fiona Maurice talks further print sense and sustainability.
The early days
With a family background in printing it was second nature for John and Bridget to build careers in the industry. Petty & Sons printers (1865-2014) were pioneers in web offset colour printing and their father was the fifth generation Petty to lead the firm.
The two recall walking through the Victorian factory press halls with their dad at weekends, below tens of tonnes of catalogues moving around on over head brackets as they dried. John remembers as a 5-year-old leaning against a large rubber factory door, being too small to be seen behind it and colliding with a forklift truck loaded with paper bales. It was a lucky escape, but both he and Bridget are still ‘wrapped up’ in print.
Looking back on their early careers John explains “Bridget started in repro with Scan Kolor before joining Departures at American Express, then Condé Nast as production controller on Tatler and GQ. After graduating from the London College of Printing I gained broad experience within Petty’s. Later we each worked for Ben Johnson (owned by RR Donnelley), a business recognised for its very high print standards. Twelve years as production manager for Home and Law Publishing followed before I started JPS in 1994 with Bridget joining me three years later.”
A broad range of multi-channel retail and corporate clients
Initially providing traditional catalogues and direct mail, JPS now offers a full spectrum of print and mailing communications for a range of leading fashion, home and lifestyle brands.
“As our clients have moved into e-commerce and social media, we’ve grown with them and helped them focus on what’s achievable within their print budget and timeframe” John reflects. “Print and paper schedules were once much looser and the choice of suppliers extensive. But as the supplier base has diminished, planning well ahead is paramount.”
Bridget adds “We help to instil discipline in the print process, something our clients really value. We start by understanding their marketing objectives which then enables us to take a strategic approach. We love nothing more than a client bringing us creative ideas and challenging us to come up with a workable, cost-effective print solution”.
This philosophy has helped JPS to grow its client portfolio over the past 25 years which now includes Charles Tyrwhitt Shirts, Scotts & Co, Pure Collection, Bamboo Clothing, Silver by Mail, ME+EM, Osprey London and Coopers of Stortford.
Key moments in the JPS journey
Reflecting on key moments Bridget recalls “Our first year in business was hugely successful after our client Innovations was taken over by Arcadia and we were awarded the print for Racing Green, Hawkshead and Debenhams, amongst other brands. When Innovations was subsequently sold to GUS, our services were retained for several successful years thereafter. Nigel Swabey made a quick return into the mail order market with the purchase of Scotts of Stow and we were fortunate to rekindle our working relationship. Scotts has been a valued client now for twenty years.”
Another milestone in JPS history was being awarded the contract to produce Asda’s very first mail order catalogue with a print run of 3m copies. Although the Asda Direct catalogue did not continue in print form, the opportunity in 2009 was the springboard for JPS to extend its team and to build on its capabilities.
Innovative and cost-effective print solutions
Being independent gives JPS access to the entire print market, allowing them to offer high quality solutions. Bridget explains “We work with wide-ranging suppliers who can produce customised, innovative print solutions that look good and are cost-effective. Staying in constant dialogue with the industry means we keep up with technical developments and new print capabilities.”
John adds “While lithographic printing still produces the greatest colour integrity, advances in digital printing have improved both quality and scalability.
This allows our clients to produce more personalised marketing communications in higher volumes. It also creates the opportunity to be more reactive to trading conditions
with shorter turnaround times than traditional production methods. This is where we see great potential for the future.”
Building reciprocal respect with suppliers
Bridget mentions what may be the JPS secret “One thing that really sets us apart is we maintain very good relationships with our suppliers. We are process-driven and provide comprehensive briefs and schedules to suppliers, remaining in daily contact so nothing is left to chance.
“The advantage of a good supplier relationship means they’re willing to accommodate us when necessary. We nurture the relationship and believe that behaving decently towards suppliers brings reciprocal respect, ensuring our client’s work remains a priority.”
Awards and accolades
As a measure of their reputation, a large proportion of the business comes from direct referrals.
It’s not surprising JPS has been shortlisted for several awards over the past 5 years, including ‘Best Print and Production Service’ at the DCA Supplier of the Year Awards and ‘Highly Commended’ Customer Service Team of the Year at the Print Week awards.
The move toward sustainability is growing, Fiona highlights, “As clients and their customers become more environmentally conscious, we seek to offer more sustainable print solutions. With paper costs representing 65% of the average print budget we can advise clients on ways to use paper more economically to reduce unnecessary waste.
“We also understand postage so can guide clients on how the green credentials of their brochures and mailings can be improved to achieve sustainable postal rates, increasing return on investment and achieving environmental goals. We’re conscious of reducing truck miles too.”
Bridget adds “We’re a green-thinking business, not only meeting industry and environmental standards but ensuring our own internal processes set an even higher bar.”
Taking print into the future
In an increasingly competitive print management sector, Bridget recognises that clients’ marketing budgets can go in many directions. “We think it’s important to integrate print into the mix as the channels complement each other. Today it’s mostly the web driving print, but this allows us to become more targeted with less waste and more relevance to customers.”
John agrees “Print management remains an exciting and rewarding sector. We continue to respond to changes in the industry, to be forward-thinking and bring innovative and cost-effective solutions to our clients which maximise their marketing budget.
“On our 25th anniversary, we raise a glass in thanks to our clients, past and present. Our passion for print has got us here and we aim to continue delighting customers with high quality service for years to come.”
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