Potts Print is a growing printing, packaging and direct mail company based in Cramlington, Northumberland. Elisabeth Skoda from Packaging Europe spoke to Laurie Cansfield, the company's Corporate Communications manager, to find out more.
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Potts Print was founded as W J Potts & Son in 1875 and is still going strong today. The company offers cutting-edge lithographic and personalised digital applications to produce the best value print solutions, bespoke packaging and direct mail combined with seamless production, storage and distribution services.
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"Packaging makes up about 25 per cent of our range, and it's steadily growing," Mr Cansfield says. "We have a packaging designer and a CAD service in-house, and offer our customers a bespoke design service. We offer a mock-up service which more and more clients are using, so they can get a feel for the product before it goes into production - this is a more tangible way of doing it and gives great results," he explains.
The mock-up service also allows Potts Print to communicate different ideas to a client. "It's also a good way of presenting. Sometimes a client has been using a pack for several years, but might want their product to be easier to stack, or more eco friendly. In that case it is easy to show our customers a few mocked up designs to give them ideas."
Potts Print recently designed, constructed a printed and a carton pack for Good Heavens, a manufacturer of premium organic yoghurt drinks. They needed a carton pack to hold four of their new flagship 125ml bottles. The new pack was launched in Tesco in 2012.
Carbon balanced printing
Potts Print recently carbon balanced its entire operation. Facts and figures about energy usage across the whole company - printing presses, computers and other hardware, company vehicle mileage, production of materials, delivery distances, etc.- were submitted to the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Management (ECCM), who calculated the carbon footprint of the business. This was subsequently offset, in association with the World Land Trust, through the preservation of endangered tropical rainforests equalling the size of 12 football pitches.
"While the carbon offsetting is so far targeting large corporations, the directors at Potts felt that getting ahead of the curve would be advantageous for both the environment and the business itself," Mr Cansfield elaborates. He continues to explain the process in more detail.
"To carbon balance something, you measure the carbon impact of a product or service, and offset the amount of carbon you conserve by planting trees in woodland/rainforests to make up for it depending on charity you're working with. Quite a lot of printing companies offset materials, but we wanted to go a step further to other companies and wanted to offset the whole process. We measured carbon emissions from materials, the energy used in creating the job, electricity used by computers, proofing equipment, emissions of company cars, delivery vans, lights etc. We did that for a year for the whole company.
The environment is of the greatest importance at Potts Print. "We have a dedicated Green Print team at Potts - a team of employees who do research into different environmental initiatives. Print has got a bad reputation historically, but it's all a question of education - after all print is one of the most sustainable ways of communicating on the planet," Mr Cansfield points out. "We are also working hard to reduce carbon before offsetting it. We are using car share schemes at our company, our company cars are low emission, and we take great care to switch off lights and equipment at night."
Potts Print is investing heavily in the future. "A major investment this year was in two Heidelberg B2 presses mainly for high quality short run work. This gives us a lot more flexibility to turn around jobs more quickly," Mr Cansfield says.
The company has also expanded its digital room in order to respond to the growing market in web to print, personalised digital printing and personalised printing.
Suppliers play an important part in the company's success. "We get our paper from The Paper Company Ltd. They are reliable, their quality has impressed us and they were also involved in our carbon balancing process, using carbon balanced paper themselves."
Clients of Potts Print include international corporations, retail and pharmaceutical companies, the NHS and public sector organisations, creative agencies, charities, regional and local businesses and the performing and visual arts community.
The company's principal markets are UK and France. "We are continuing to expand our UK and European markets," says Mr Canfield.
Investment in machinery and people
The company will continue to grow through organic expansion. "That's how we've worked in the past, and it is working well for us. We will continue to invest in new equipment, and replace existing machines with newer models. We also invest into our employees. Investing in people is key; we have 265 staff now, and promote work experience and apprenticeships. It's good for the region and economy as the whole."
Bespoke packaging, luxury short runs and more commercial longer runs, as well as eco packaging, are interesting expansion possibilities for Potts.
"Due to government targets, a lot more clients will require certified paper, recycled materials and carbon balanced products. We are aiming for 25 million turnover by 2020," is says Mr Canfield.
Product reengineering is an important market as well. For example, by skimming just five millimetres off a design, it is possible to save a considerable amount of sheets. "It is important for us to educate our clients about sustainable products and it is also important to make people aware that being environmentally friendly doesn't have to cost extra money, and can even save money," Mr Canfield concludes.