Mercia diversifies packaging offer following merger

Richard Stuart-Turner
Thursday, May 20, 2021

Mercia Image Print has greatly expanded its packaging offering to help support its post-pandemic recovery following its acquisition by The Print Design Factory.

Strong (second left): "We had to find new products to secure our future"
Strong (second left): "We had to find new products to secure our future"

The company, based in Little Eaton, Derby, had struggled when Covid-19 hit just over a year ago, as its hospitality and retail industry sector sales were badly affected. Prior to the pandemic it had a turnover of around £1.4m.

“A big chunk of business had vanished overnight, so we had to think on our feet, juggle furlough with production, and find new products to fill the gap and secure our future,” said managing director Amanda Strong, who founded Mercia 30 years ago.

With a new focus on product packaging, the business secured large orders for rapid flow testing kits and online retail packaging. The business developed further significant new orders in Q3, including producing bespoke boxes for companies including The Colleague Box and Solesmith.

“We were kept busy producing new innovative packaging, that creates the right impression, for a multitude of customers and business sectors,” said sales director Paul Ross.

After deciding on a lifestyle change for herself following the initial onslaught of Covid-19 last year, Strong put Mercia up for sale and The Print Design Factory (Sheffield) quickly approached her with an offer to buy the company. The sale was completed in October 2020.

Mercia’s 15 staff were kept on, boosting the group’s overall headcount to around 30, and they continue to work at the company's bespoke factory in Little Eaton that it moved into in 2008.

While Strong sold her entire stake in Mercia to The Print Design Factory (Sheffield), she has stayed on “as the face of the business” in the role of company ambassador, working a few days a week.

The Print Design Factory (Sheffield) group commercial director Craig Ikin said: “We are delighted to welcome Mercia to our group and look forward to maintaining and building on Mercia's reputation as the leading print provider in Derby.”

Strong said the merger has brought more opportunities to the business by giving Mercia a new team of skilled colleagues to work alongside, and the addition of more equipment.

As a group, the company now operates Xerox digital printers, a Mitsubishi B2 press, a Ryobi (RMGT) SRA1 press, and a Heidelberg B3 machine, as well as a raft of finishing kit, specialist mailing equipment, and XMPie personalisation software on its Xerox machines. It is also currently implementing a new Tharsten MIS.

Mercia is now able to offer an expanded fully bespoke packaging service, both locally and nationally, alongside its core print and design work.

“One of our most recent jobs, Echo cartons, for Henry & Company, Burton-on-Trent, were printed in four-colour process, on a 540 micron box board, soft touch laminated, die-cut out to shape and glued – all produced in-house at our factory in Little Eaton,” said Ross.

The business is next looking to add a bespoke personalisation service using its variable data capabilities.

“For example, if you’ve got a vet that want to call your dog in for a vaccination or an MOT check, you could actually have a picture of your dog on that postcard,” Strong told Printweek.

“I think that’s the way of the future – whether that’s used digitally on an email or printed on a postcard format and posted out. I think that’s something that we need to invest in more.”

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