John E Wright has returned to Ashgate Automation for the Fastbind Elite XT perfect binder and a Casematic H46 Pro casemaker after finding its niche in creative binding.
The UK printer first ventured into the photobook market in 2011 when it noticed a gap in the market for creative binding projects.
It decided to tap into the trade from university students in the surrounding Nottingham area, who turned to the company for binding of theses and dissertations, by investing in equipment to produce visual presentations required for arts and graphics courses.
To compete in the "highly saturated" photobook market, John E Wright decided to pitch itself as a "project book" provider to create itself a niche, according to group commercial and marketing manager Adrian Nicholls.
In early 2011 the company bought a licence for Taopix FotoBook software followed by the BooXter Duo staple-binder and Fastbind Casematic H46 Pro tabletop casemaker.
Nicholls said: "With the large number of students active locally and not only those in their third year producing their final thesis, we found that we could offer products almost year-round.
"While we knew in some instances that we were competing with some well-known online retailers, we soon found that the local and personal contact together with more flexible lead times and good pricing converted numerous customers to us."
The Nottingham branch soon became inundated with requests for work on the photobook equipment and when it began receiving more widespread requests from its local branch network across the Midlands, it decided to ramp up capacity.
Nicholls said: "The feedback from enquiries indicated that we could fulfil even more requests if we stepped up our capacity and introduced the option for thicker bindings and more cover options."
This summer, John E Wright referred to Ashgate Automation to install the £4,500 Fastbind Elite XT perfect binder and £4,285 Casematic H46 Pro at the Leicester branch to offer centralised services to the surrounding area, including Coventry. This brings the company’s spend with Ashgate Automation near to £15,000 since 2011's initial installations.
Nicholls added: "This has allowed us to decrease lead times for customers in Leicester and increase the capacity and product ranges for Nottingham.
"We are now open to a far wider range of enquiries and feel that we have found a new niche market for these added value services."
Plans are afoot to install more photobook equipment from Ashgate Automation across the John E Wright network in the near future.