In a previous life, Haddad promoted events in clubs and as a result he had built up a good network of contacts both from the events side of the industry and from the print supplier side who he had used for the printing of promotional materials, such as posters and flyers.
He recognised there was an opportunity to supply printed collateral such as flyers, posters and wristbands into this market so he started sourcing print from his extensive network of suppliers for event organisers.
For the first five years Haddad says Apprintable didn’t produce anything itself in-house – everything was outsourced. But by mid-2019 business was booming so much that he started leasing and buying equipment so that he could bring some of the work in-house. Then Covid struck and Haddad took advantage of the government’s business bounceback loan scheme.
“I thought, I can’t just sit on this money and do nothing,” he recalls. “I’ve got to try and make it work for me. And so we started buying equipment, and we’ve just kept growing ever since really.”
Since the pandemic the business has expanded and moved into larger new premises on multiple occasions and is now in a 300sqm facility in Wembley, which the company moved into last September.
“We’re kind of outgrowing that space already and potentially looking at a second site for some bits [of equipment] we’re thinking of buying next year,” says Haddad.
A couple of years ago Apprintable bought a digital die-cutter for the first time which allowed it to offer more niche items, such as Christmas crackers, and then Haddad started looking at the company’s existing kit that he could upgrade or finishing functions that he could potentially bring in-house, and that’s when he started exploring the idea of buying a bookletmaker.
“Most of the work we do is in the drinks, hospitality and events industry in general,” says Haddad. “We have one particular customer and they do thousands of menus every quarter. We were outsourcing that work and there’s very little margin in outsourcing now. We’re very data driven and when we looked at the numbers we thought, ‘it’s crazy that we’re still sending this work out when we could do it at 50% of the cost’.”
Haddad explored all of the different options available in the market and considered machines from the likes of Horizon and Duplo.
“However, for us space is a commodity and we didn’t have a lot of space to accommodate a big collating tower; that just wouldn’t really work for us,” says Haddad.
“We needed something digital and the only two really good options were Morgana and Duplo. The Duplo ones are just crazy money and we already had an existing relationship with Morgana as we had bought quite a few bits of kit from them in the past, so we went and sat down with the team and looked at the options they had.”
Initially the firm settled on a PowerSquare bookletmaker, but soon after installation Haddad realised he had made a mistake.
“We tried it out, but it didn’t really work for us,” he says. “The problem basically was the delivery system. It’s very strange. It feeds the sheets in and then it’s got a conveyor that pulls the sheet along and we just couldn’t get it to function very well for us and it wasn’t fast enough either.”
So Haddad went back to Morgana who “very kindly” swapped out the PowerSquare for the BM4050 bookletmaker with VFX dual bin feeder, which was installed in March this year.
“In terms of thickness, we could go up to 4mm with the PowerSquare and we can go up to 4mm with this machine as well so it seemed like a naturally better option for us, because it runs a lot faster.”
Haddad says installing the new machine forced him to think about the layout of his equipment on the factory floor and what needed to be placed where to ensure everything moved smoothly and efficiently through production.
The BM4050 was initially positioned in one part of the factory, but it has since been moved so that it is closer to the EBA Ideal 56 guillotine, which was installed around the same time, and the firm’s 450 Pro laminator, also supplied by Morgana.
“It kind of just makes more sense in terms of the flow of the space,” says Haddad.
The team got up to speed quickly on the new machine and Haddad says it’s so easy to use an hour of training would have been more than sufficient. “It’s a pretty straightforward machine really and there’s not a lot that you can do to not make it work,” says Haddad.
As with any new machine he concedes that there were a few teething issues, mainly related to software, but the Morgana team were able to resolve these problems swiftly.
“They were very good, and very responsive. They come out and fix things very quickly if ever it goes down,” he says.
However, since it was installed the machine has run pretty smoothly and it has eaten through whatever work the company has put on it.
“We’ve done something like 30,000 books in six months, which is probably not a lot compared with some of the big online printers, but we’re now able to take on work that we just wouldn’t have been able to take on before,” says Haddad.
“There’s a job coming in at the moment which is about 2,500 landscape A4 books. I can’t remember if the PowerSquare would have been able to handle that job, but this one will absolutely fly through it.”
There are lots of things Haddad likes about the BM4050 such as the ability to save lots of different jobs on the machine, which helps to reduce setup time. But the thing he particularly likes is the thickness the machine is able to handle.
“You can go up to 4mm and also you get the SquareBack as well, which is probably my favourite feature,” says Haddad. “The SquareBack is quite a nice thing because sometimes you get these books from the saddle stitching machines that other people use and they’re quite bulky on the spine.”
In addition to expanding the company’s product range and enabling it to bring more jobs in house it’s made Apprintable much more competitive as well.
“We can now reduce our price to our customers, so we are able to win more work that way. We’ve also increased our margin quite significantly, by doing it ourselves,” says Haddad.
The only downside he can pinpoint with the BM4050 is the machine is so productive the company is struggling to feed it so Hadded says he may have to splash the cash and upgrade other machines in Apprintable’s armoury to keep it ticking over.
“It’s a hungry machine and it needs a lot of paper,” he adds. “We’re looking at press upgrades so that we can keep up with it.”
Min paper size 145x210mm
Max paper size 320x660mm
Stapling Easy change, low-maintenance, heavy-duty staple cartridges. Staples per cartridge: 5,000
Min paper weight 64gsm
Max paper weight 300gsm
Min set thickness 1 sheet 80gsm (when folded makes a four-page leaflet)
Max set thickness 3.5mm and 5mm (approx. 35 sheets and 50 sheets of 80gsm 20lb bond plain paper)
Max finished book thickness 7mm and 10mm (approx 140 and 200 pages 80gsm/20lb bond)
Price BM4035, FM4000 – VFX: £49,970 (35 sheet); BM4050, FM4050 – VFX: £55,960 (50 sheet)
Contact Morgana Systems 01908 608888 www.plockmaticgroup.com
Peter Haddad set up Apprintable from the comfort of his own garage in 2015. Initially he sourced printed collateral from other printers for companies in the hospitality and drinks sector. But a few years ago the company started leasing and purchasing its own machinery and began bringing more and more work in-house. In the past two and a half years Apprintable has invested more than a quarter of a million pounds in equipment including the Morgana BM4050 and a new EBA Ideal 56 guillotine. The Wembley-based business prints with a Xerox Versant 280 – although its predecessor, a Ricoh Pro C5300s, was retained as backup – and also operates a VeloBlade 64+ digital die-cutter from Vivid Laminating Technologies.
Why it was bought…
Apprintable was outsourcing a lot of booklet work, such as brochures, and menus, and Haddad said that it was no longer cost-effective.
How it has performed…
Since installation it has run like a dream. “It rarely needs human intervention, so my finisher can switch it on, walk away and come back in 10 minutes and clear the stack of books,” says Haddad. “It’s a lot of money, don’t get me wrong, but it’s perfect for a mid-sized print workshop looking to grow their margins by bringing this sort of work in-house.”