Warwick Printing is celebrating its seventh decade in business after following a risk-averse business strategy which has allowed it to flourish in the tough litho magazine market.
The firm was founded by printer and Czechoslovakian Jew Moric Schwarz, who fled the Nazis during WW2 and named his business after his new home. He was soon busy printing promotional literature and manuals for the thriving Midlands car industry, quickly expanding and moving premises.
In 1974 John Young joined the firm as general manager, later buying Warwick Printing in an MBO. He expanded the company into the magazine, journals and short-run book markets. He remains managing director on a part-time basis, working in tandem with his deputy Paul Baxter, who joined in 2005. The company moved to Sydenham, Leamington Spa in 2002.
Over the past decade the business has grown from 25 to around 60 staff and from £2.2m to a £6.1m turnover. Young's sons Alan and Paul, Alan's sons Luke and Ricky, Paul Young's wife Tracey Young and Paul Baxter's wife Jo Baxter all work at the business.
Paul Baxter said the company’s history was “a great story which we’re trying to promote in our literature". Warwick Printing has changed its logo for a year to reflect the milestone.
"I’d like to think we’d get more business because we’re 70. I think it gives people confidence that we’re going to produce a good job when they are choosing a printer.”
The bulk of the business’s trade is still litho magazine printing – 73% is community magazines. It also publishes trade magazines such as Podiatry Now and Payroll Professional and others such as Ice Cream magazine for the Ice Cream Alliance which has recommended the firm in its promotion.
Young and Baxter agreed a decade ago on a low risk strategy - to never take on a contract worth more than 5% of its total turnover - something which has helped stability. Then it was running a double day shift and now production is 24/7.
“When I started we were just a litho printer mainly doing magazine and journals and we started taking on more and more magazines,” Baxter said. “Some customers spend £5,000 and our biggest client is £160,000 a year.
“I think the company has been run very frugally by the managing director.
“I think we’ve been very careful that when we grow the business we grow gradually. We only buy new kit once we have the business to support it, otherwise the costs can kill you.
“The problem in printing is the service aspect is almost taken as a given these days and it’s a lot more price driven but we’re not very exposed.
“We’ve never tried to reinvent the wheel, we’ve never tried to go into websites. We’ve not tried to change from being a commercial magazine printer.”
During Young’s time at the company he has witnessed the replacement of the hot metal typesetting machines with phototypesetting, then desktop publishing and finally digital printing. His cautious strategy has not stopped him investing in the latest technology.
“Over the years there have been some very difficult times for the print industry but we have worked very hard at developing and maintaining our relationships with customers, some of which we have served for over 30 years,” Young said.
“We strongly believe that the best way to deliver a great service is to allow the customer to talk directly with the relevant person within the business from initial sales contact, through to design, prepress, production and delivery.”