John Charnock has made a surprise return to print management, and has been appointed as the new managing director of Nicholson Bass, one of the oldest printing companies in Northern Ireland.
Bradley Group owns Quinnstheprinters, which has operations in Belfast and Liverpool, and the Mannin Group on the Isle of Man. It acquired Belfast-based Nicholson Bass earlier this year.
The appointment came about after a chance meeting between Charnock and Bradley Group managing director Peter Bradley in Dusseldorf’s Irish Bar during Drupa 2016.
Bradley said the fast-growing group would benefit from Charnock’s wide-ranging expertise.
“John has helped us with some technical projects since we met at Drupa, and he has been helping the management team across the business,” he said. “It’s really good to have someone with that sort of experience in the group.”
Charnock is a former executive board member at St Ives, where he worked for nearly 20 years. For the past 10 years he has run his own consultancy, Print Research International, advising a range of printers, software companies and manufacturers.
He will put his consultancy business on ice in order to take up the new role, but would retain a couple of non-executive directorships and clients where there is no conflict.
Charnock said it was exciting to be involved with a dynamic, growing group. “This frees Peter up to focus on the other two businesses and the group as a whole. Nicholson Bass has a lot of potential and I’m confident about its prospects. Being in Belfast means we are on the cusp of Europe and non-Europe with Brexit, so these are interesting times to be in Northern Ireland.”
He takes up the new role at the end of the month. Jonathan Megarry, the former incumbent, will focus on sales as sales director.
Nicholson Bass was established in 1938 by a letterpress printer and a fancy box maker. It has sales of circa £3m and employs 22 staff. The firm specialises in high-end work such as books, corporate print, and fine art. Bradley said he was targeting sales of £5m at the operation.
“It’s a very specialist business with really skilled people, and the quality is second to none. Our ambition is to grow it and we are looking at putting in a new press next year. The way the euro is going the tide is changing, and we are actively targeting Irish and UK publishers,” he added. “It’s in a completely different market to Quinns.”
The firm’s current equipment includes a four-colour Heidelberg Speedmaster 102CD, Xerox Versant 2100 digital press, in-house bindery and a comprehensive logistics and warehouse operation.
It also has access to the facilities at the £13m turnover group’s other manufacturing plants.
Charnock said he would relocate to Belfast during the week in order to run the business.