Roy Holmes, who was a leading light in the repro business during its glory years, has died aged 76.
From humble beginnings Holmes went on to set up two of the industry’s biggest pre-press businesses, back in the days “when repro was repro” said former colleague Bob Simpkins.
Holmes had initially trained as an apprentice printer, but “not liking to get dirty”, he decided to re-train as a platemaker, working for Royles and Litra Machine Plates in London.
“He then set up his own trade platemaking company in Tooley Street called Lithospeed, before realising that a full reproduction service was the way to go,” Simpkins explained.
Holmes gained investment from his brother-in-law which allowed him to set up a repro company in Scrutton Street.
“Times were very hard, including the three-day week, but Roy’s determination, expertise and drive pushed the business on. As in all success stories, luck played a part in the future,” Simpkins said.
“Lithospeed was asked to try a test for web offset on WSOP paper for the Sunday Times. This had never been done before and resulted in Lithospeed winning the contract for the Daily Telegraph colour supplement, after the Telegraph saw it and decided to print their magazine web offset.
“Roy was always looking to expand the company and it went from strength-to-strength. His passion was relentless and he created the most successful repro company in Britain, winning numerous awards for the quality of its work.”
Lithospeed was acquired by Wace in 1988, and Holmes went on to hold the position of Reproduction Director of Magazines at the PLC.
He retired to Spain in 1992 but his retirement didn’t last long and Holmes returned to England and with his son, Gavin, set up Graphic Facilities.
“This, again, showed his enormous drive and knowledge of the industry,” Simpkins added.
Graphic Facilities grew into a £15.7m turnover business and, with Gavin Holmes at the helm as chief executive, the business was sold to Wyndeham Group in a £6m deal in March 2004.
“Despite all his hard work, he was very much a devoted family man and in his leisure time enjoyed golf to a very high standard. Both were his passions. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him,” Simpkins added.
Former client Brenda Haywood, who handled print and repro contracts during her time as group executive editor at the Telegraph Group, also paid tribute.
“Roy was a very sharp business man who came from humble beginnings in the East End, when he used to sell ladies’ skirts off a market stall, a really fascinating story. Roy always had table number one for lunch at Langan’s, which was a big thing in the ‘80s. He was always immaculately turned out and built his business by staying in the background and employing the right people to deal with the publishers," she said.
Holmes, who had Parkinson’s disease, is survived by his wife Irene, their two children, four grandchildren and a great-grandchild.
Gavin Holmes said: “Thank-you to everyone who has sent messages of support over the last few days. An incredibly hard time for us as a family, but helped by everyone’s kindness. He was not just loved by his family, he touched the lives of many in his community.”
The funeral will be held at noon on Thursday 7 March, at St Mary Magdalene Church in Billericay, and industry contacts are welcome to attend. It will be followed be a celebration of his life at the nearby Stock Brook Country Club.
Flowers should be sent to FE Farrer Funeral Directors in Billericay by 09:30am on the day.