Thirlby to leave ESP for new venture

Jo Francis
Tuesday, November 25, 2014

ESP Colour managing director Anthony Thirlby is leaving the firm after nine years of pushing the boundaries of world-class efficiency improvements.

Thirlby will leave the Swindon-based firm at the end of the year, and plans to set up his own consultancy.

“It’s time for a new challenge,” he said. “I’ve had an incredible time at ESP over the past nine years. The business is in a good position and it seemed like the right time to move on.”

He emphasised that his departure was amicable. Thirlby had a stake in ESP, which he has sold to chief executive Paul Bradley.

Bradley will take over the day-to-day running of the company, and while Thirlby will not be directly replaced the company has already recruited John Edmonds from outside the industry. He joins in a new operational role.

ESP comprises litho, digital, web-to-print and creative services. The £15m-turnover business employs 77 staff.

During his time at the business Thirlby has established himself as a world authority on the industrialisation of print processes in order to drive efficiencies. He rose eight places to number 41 in this year's PrintWeek Power 100

“It’s been an incredible journey and I can look back with immense pride on what the ESP team has achieved,” Thirlby added.

Just two months ago ESP was again lauded by Heidelberg as the “world champion” for achieving the shortest makeready times and highest net output from its presses.

The firm has an average makeready time of three minutes and 50 seconds on its Speedmaster XL105, which has been running for 32 months. Its new Speedmaster XL106, installed at the end of last year, is so far averaging just two minutes and five seconds.

Heidelberg sales director Jim Todd said: “He’s the Lewis Hamilton of print, and there’s a team behind Anthony as well – the guys running the machines deliver that performance day in, day out.

“I hope he stays in print, because print needs more people like him. He’s applied science and turned it into a process industry, and has been a great help in showing what the equipment can do. He’s also been very open, which is good for the industry.”

Thirlby leaves the business on 31 December. His new consultancy will focus on print-related platforms, but could also extend into other areas. “There are huge opportunities in print and I love the trade,” he added.

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