Helloprint to quadruple UK print base

Hannah Jordan
Monday, July 18, 2016

Dutch online W2P platform Helloprint wants to quadruple its UK suppliers by 2017 as it looks to triple UK turnover to €20m (£16.7m).

The Rotterdam-headquartered business launched in 2013 and began its UK operations in September 2014. It offers outsourced print services predominantly to SME business owners with a focus on start-ups and small entrepreneurs as well as to consumers. 

Currently only around 25% of its total UK orders are serviced by UK printers, but now the company is investing €2m to grow its UK print network from around 15-20, to more than 100 by 2017.

“Until now our focus has been on building an established network of printers on the European mainland, so around 75% of supply has been coming from there to the UK, but we really want to build [the UK supplier network],” said co-founder and chief executive Hans Scheffer, a former director of Printing.com parent firm, Grafenia.

“We won’t achieve a sole UK supply base, but we want it to be as many as possible. The UK is a really interesting market. It’s heavily fragmented and it’s our fastest growing market so we see a lot of opportunity there,” Scheffer added.  

“It’s a hard time for the graphical industry and this opens a lot of opportunities for both niche printers and also bigger commercial players who want to work with the platform to sell their products to our clients. We are talking at length with these businesses now.” 

Scheffer said the decision to redress the EU/UK print balance on UK shores for its UK customers, had nothing to do with the referendum result. 

Along with the focus to increase its UK print network, Helloprint intends to open a UK office, probably in London, at some point in the future, but Scheffer wouldn’t put a date on it. 

The UK team of 12 to15 people is currently located in Rotterdam. The business employs around 100 people in total with 30 more due to start in the next month, according to Scheffer. Staff are split between Holland and Valencia in Spain, where its customer services team is based. 

Scheffer said global turnover would amount to €30m this year with the UK expected to contribute €7m by the end of the 2016 financial year, tripling to €20m by the end of 2017. The figures include sales from its dedicated trade service Helloprint Pro, which it launched in October last year. The new service was on course to account for around 50% of UK turnover by the end of 2016, he confirmed. 

“We have tens of thousands of clients in the UK now and we are growing at a massive rate,” Scheffer said. 

Scheffer said services such as Helloprint were the way of the future and those who felt such platforms only serve to devalue print were not being realistic.

“The online print market is dominated by German suppliers so when UK producers connect with us they are instantly competing with them. Around 85% of people still order print offline but that’s going to change massively in the next few years," he said.

"We are in a global economy and when there is supply from another country people are simply able to buy it. People need to live in the real world. You can either criticise that or you can find a way to fight back. We are offering that opportunity.”  

Scheffer said Helloprint could compete with the likes of Vistaprint and Cimpress, which have their own production facilities, because the market was so enormous and would only keep growing.

"The growth in our market doesn't really come from competing with each other. The more a company like Vistaprint promotes itself, the better for each of its online competitors," he said.

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