The Suffolk firm spent £1.4m on expanding into a new unit to create a 1,500sqm paper warehouse that can hold more than £1m-worth of stock, which has freed up additional production space at its 6,500sqm factory.
“We’ve brought laminating and die-cutting in-house, which was previously done at our sister company Richardsons. They are now operating from our site,” explained director Rob Cross.
The new paper warehouse is now operational and a new Sitma paper wrapping line is set to be fully operational next month.
The business also bought a new high-speed Stahl TH82-P folder, to keep up with the additional output from the ‘push to stop’ Heidelberg Speedmaster XL106 8-P it installed last summer.
Prior to the virus crisis Micropress had been enjoying strong growth. Burgeoning demand for direct mail work has also resulted in it buying an AMS X-Jet variable printing system, which was installed in February.
Cross said the company had also reacted to customer demand for paper wrapping by investing £500,000 in a Sitma W1005, which can paper-wrap or polywrap.
The line has inkjet printing and a lifting belt.
The new kit takes the £20m turnover firm’s spend over the past 12 months to £5m.
“We are a strong, well-established business. It’s time for strong businesses to shine,” Cross stated.
“We have tried to focus on the positives as well as dealing with the negatives.”
The Sitma was installed in March, but training was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and will now take place with appropriate social distancing measures next week.
“We’re very excited about the paper wrapping side. Customers don’t necessarily get excited when we buy a new folder or a new press, but this is a new product that people are asking for. Demand is already strong,” he said.
“There is a lot of pressure to remove plastic, and paper is a fantastic alternative.”
Cross said that the business was currently operating at about 40% of capacity, but he was expecting work to gradually build over the coming months.
“We’re doing a lot more DM work, and that’s remaining strong, and we’re still producing some regular weekly titles.
“Our main customer base is a mixture of publishers, print management, agencies, and a lot of it is trade. We’re quite a good barometer as it’s such a mix,” he added.
Around half of the company’s 180-strong workforce is currently furloughed, but the business is still running 24 hours and at weekends.
“We’ve implemented a host of measures including one-way systems, and have taken the opportunity to change some working practices and workflow through the factory. Flexibility has been key,” Cross added.
He also said that further investment that would probably have been finalised at Drupa 2020 would now be deferred until next year.
“We’re looking at replacing a stitching line and at inkjet technology. It’s not quite ready for us and our marketplace, but we’re certainly keen to have a look. Hopefully it will be even better by next April.”
Micropress runs three B1 multi-colour presses, as well as B2 and B3 models. It also has a wide range of digital printing kit, including cut-sheet and wide-format.