Step Two boost as businesses reopen

A Nettl store promoting its reopening today
A Nettl store promoting its reopening today

With shoppers pictured queuing up at some retail destinations today, print’s own High Street businesses are looking forward to a return to a more normal way of trading.

The roadmap out of lockdown outlined by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in February has reached the Step Two reopening phase, with all retailers in England now allowed to open, as well as personal care, outdoor attractions and outdoor hospitality.  

Nigel Toplis, managing director of Bardon Group which includes franchise businesses Kall Kwik and Recognition Express, said: “It’s the glorious 12th and hopefully the start of an upturn in things. 

“Our franchises have remained open with click-and-collect and they’ve kept communication with their clients going, and now as those clients ramp up and do more, we’ll do more. Where you have maintained relationships with the customers over the last six, nine, 132 months you will benefit, no doubt,” he said. 

Grafenia chief executive Peter Gunning said the group's Nettl stores had “definitely noticed an upturn in activity” with a back to business ‘look book’ sent to 50,000 clients.

“We’ve been running a “become famous locally” campaign, for people to get ready to reopen,” he said. 

Simon Slee, owner of Fastsigns Hammersmith, has just picked up the retail/wholesale business of the year award in the West London Business Awards. He said the “phone hadn’t stopped ringing” this morning. 

“It’s a flat out day. We’ve been preparing for the reopening with additional signage and all sorts of other things such as screens," Slee said. 

“Throughout the pandemic and lockdowns, our centre was able to remain operational, even though we were not able to receive visitors and the team were quick to adapt, ensuring they worked together even though working remotely in some cases, adhered to government safety guidance and continued to deliver a variety of high quality signage solutions for all our customers.”

The reopening has resulted in additional print requirements, such as fresh floor and social distancing graphics, and has also generated some targeted promotions from large retailers. 

Mitesh Chouhan, managing director at Central Mailing Services in Birmingham, said: "Things are crazy busy at the moment. Not just on hand fulfilment, or enveloping, poly or paper wrapping or digital print, all areas of the business are busy, not just bits."

"Retail has definitely ramped up, we do work for high-street retailers, holidays is starting to ramp up too as they begin a push to encourage people to put deposits down.”

However, some businesses appear to be taking a cautious approach. 

Martin Johnson, managing director of Pace Print & Design in Worcester, said his company had been doing some work for local firms such as nail bars, but was yet to see a significant boost to activity levels: “I think people are still waiting to see how things develop. Some of the pubs aren’t going to reopen at this point because they’ve been caught out twice now with having to throw stock away, and if you’re a pub or restaurant you’ve still got to serve people outside.”