Event intended to foster collaboration

IPIA networking lunch impresses in Birmingham

Rob Cross spoke about Micropress' growth story at the lunch
Rob Cross spoke about Micropress' growth story at the lunch

The IPIA welcomed 120 guests to its first physical networking event of the year yesterday (19 June).

The IPIA Annual Networking Lunch was held at contemporary French restaurant Orelle. It was bookended with networking drinks while guests moved tables after each course during lunch to maximise their networking opportunities.

Held on the 24th floor of the Birmingham venue, the event attracted IPIA members, suppliers, agencies, print buyers, end users and more.

The day also featured an address from IPIA chair Charles Rogers, who said the aim of the event was to “foster collaboration and bring people together” while also hailing the various technological advancements shown at the recent Drupa show in Düsseldorf.

Rob Cross, joint managing director of Micropress, then gave a presentation on how the business – a former winner of Printweek's Printing Company of the Year – has adapted to critical industry trends, significantly strengthened its sustainability and grown.

After sharing potted highlights and key moments since the company’s beginnings in 1979, Cross noted how after moving to a bigger factory in 2012, the business positioned itself as a trade printer “which was quite ahead of the game at the time”.

“Rather than lots of customers spending £5,000 pounds, we wanted to focus on the bigger print buyers, we wanted customers spending £50,000, £100,000 and beyond – we felt that was the way to grow the business.”

He noted the importance to the company of keeping its cost of sale low to maximise its margins.

“I think there is a place for small customers placing small orders. But I really think the online printers have exploited that very, very well. And I think there's still lots of small customers placing small orders and I think they are not placing them efficiently still. So I still think there’s a lot of change in the market to come.”

He later added: “If someone asked, what makes your business successful, then the overwhelming response from us would be that we’ve never been greedy and that we’ve always reinvested.”

Speaking to Printweek at the event, Brendan Perring, general manager at the IPIA, said: “We see time and again that whether it is trade shows, networking events, mini exhibitions or supplier open houses, when you bring print businesses together with print buyers, marketing agencies, technology developers, service suppliers in all sorts of fields, sustainability, utilities and so forth, when you mix all of that up and get people relaxed, and they’re willing to talk and their guard is down, it creates new economic activity for our sector.

“We’re trying to be another sort of turbocharger for growth in the industry. And that’s really important because our industry is under tremendous amounts of stress and that can’t be exaggerated enough. But if businesses can help and support each other within that stress and learn from each other, that's our mission accomplished.

“The number one feedback reason we get that print businesses attend these events, which surprises us, is actually not to meet print buyers or marketing agencies, it’s to meet other printers.”

Perring said the association’s next in-person event, its annual Autumn Conference, will take place on 29 August at The Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry. Running with the theme ‘Ahead of the Curve’, each speaker will be from a print business that has evolved from being a straightforward commercial or jobbing printer, into areas like wide-format, packaging, online, and value-added services.

Sponsors of the Annual Networking Lunch included Antalis, BCR Associates, Duplo, eProductivity Software, Fujifilm, Imprint MIS, Konica Minolta, Ricoh, Route 1 Print, Vivid and Xerox.