Witherbys rebrands and celebrates 275 years in business

By Sarah Cosgrove, Monday 06 July 2015

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A print business which started copying legal documents by hand in 1740 celebrated its 275th anniversary with a party at St Bride Foundation.

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Alan Witherby was presented with a certificate by Vivian Bairstow Mater of The Worshipful Company of Coopers

Managing director James Greene revealed new branding and a fresh website design at the City of London event on 2 July, with the new site going live the next day.

It is no longer trading under the names of former acquisitions Lithoflow and Abacus and brought them under the Witherbys brand, as Witherbys Lithoflow and Witherbys Digital.

Greene told PrintWeek: “It’s important to have a fresh customer-based service to our clients. We were looking at updating our brand design and the website was a bit stale, so we decided to combine the re-brand with the 275th anniversary.”

Greene said building up a good customer base and then servicing them well was part of the secret of the company’s longevity. But eyeing future market opportunities and good planning is also important.

“Witherbys has always been a company that’s looked at the long term, there are still a lot of family values in the way we do business and wonderful, dedicated staff,” he said.

It has kept clients for hundreds of years, including the Worshipful Company of Coopers, which the company has worked for since the time of its founder Thomas Witherby, a freeman of the Coopers’ Company. As well as Livery Companies, Witherbys supplies corporate City clients, law firms, West End auction houses and galleries and property firms.

Following 120 years as City scribes, the company moved into litho printing through its first acquisition, it became the exclusive UK dealer of US-invention the Hall Type-Writer from 1883, moved into book and later journal publishing a few years later, digital printing in 1998 and adopted CtP in 2000. In 2005, Greene and financial director Bill Kelly were appointed as the first non-Witherby shareholder directors.

The latest investment at the 36-staff £3.9m-turnover company was a six colour Heidelberg Speedmaster 74 in December and it is planning to buy a Heidelberg folder near the end of the year.

In more than three centuries, Witherbys was burnt down, bombed, lost too many staff to two world wars, expanded, contracted and moved countless times, the last being in 2010 from Clerkenwell to Tottenham Hale, north London. Most of all it has survived.

Eight generation of the family and shareholder Alan Witherby, congratulated Greene and Kelly on their work and success at the helm of the company and hoped Witherbys would go on forever, during a speech at the event.

“Running a print company these days is extremely difficult, the way they have run the company through thick and thin has been remarkable,” he said.

“There has been a huge amount to cope with, there have been problems and financial problems, they’ve moved. I commend them and hope to be wheeled out again in another 25 years.”

To thank them, Witherbys is taking all its staff for an outing to Brighton this summer.

 

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