Star product: PrintCaf franchisee status

By Barney Cox, Thursday 07 February 2013

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Having the back-up of a larger organisation does have benefits

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What does it do?
It’s a high-street print franchise. Becoming a PrintCafé franchisee gets you branding guidelines, marketing support and a listing on the centralised PrintCafé website. It also provides Graphic Dealer Network (GDL) member benefits of group purchasing discounts on hardware, software and consumables.

When was it launched and what sort of firm is it aimed at?
The first PrintCafé shops were rolled out at the end of 2012. The aim is to provide a modern, welcoming retail digital printing service on the high street, covering short-run and personalised products from stationery and marketing collateral, through to plans and posters. PrintCafé is a development from the HP Print Station concept, which GDL member John E Wright was an early and enthusiastic adopter of.

How does it work?
PrintCafé has a small central team to provide support to the franchisees and to keep the website up to date. "Success is dependent on location and motivation," says John E Wright managing director Tony Barnett.

PrintCafé HQ can help with demographic analysis to make sure a location is suitable. University towns, especially those offering creative courses, have been the sites of early successes. As for motivation, Barnett says: "The key is to have a PrintCafé champion who is paid and incentivised correctly."  

How does it differ from previous models?
PrintCafé is aimed at students and young professionals, especially those in creative sectors such as architecture, design and fashion. The core market is 18-28-year-olds. The brand and the internet cafe-style shop fitting are designed to welcome customers and encourage them to stay.

What’s the return on investment?
According to Barnett, a high-street shop can expect to double its profitability, and increase sales by 20%-25%. "The average increase in sales at our stores was over £100,000 per year per branch in year one, resulting in considerably higher profitability because we were using existing space, staff and equipment," he says.

What is the USP?
Low set-up and ongoing costs for the printer, and accessibility, ease-of-use and fast turnaround customer-focused service for clients.

How easy is it to use?
The ethos of PrintCafé is to make printing approachable and easy for the customer. Stores feature open spaces, working areas and wifi to enable customers to get on with their work. Free printed guides to setting up files in Adobe Creative Suite are available to take away. The idea is that centre staff give hands-on help when required on preparing files to print.

What training and support is on offer?
The launch kit includes all the artwork for interior and exterior point-of-sale and marketing collateral, including print samples. Anything that can’t be produced on-site can be outsourced to other PrintCafé members, or third parties. Sharing information, expertise and facilities with other PrintCafé branches is encouraged both informally, but also formally through six-monthly conferences with technical and marketing tracks. Lastly, staff training on technical and business issues is available centrally as needed for an additional fee.

How much does it cost?
If no additional printing equipment is needed then the cost to refurbish a store and apply the PrintCafé branding is in the region of £6,000-£10,000. Ongoing costs to operate the franchise are £500 per month – regardless of the level of business.

What is the sales target, how many franchisees are there in the UK?
To date, five PrintCafé stores (in Nottingham, Leicester, Derby, Gloucester and Uxbridge) have been rebranded and are up and running. By the end of the first quarter of 2013, another six (in Glasgow, Norwich, Sheffield, Worcester, Manchester and Liverpool) will have been rolled out, with plans for further sites during the second quarter already under way. After those sites have been established, further franchises will be available to non-GDL member companies. The plan is to offer one franchise per town or small city to prevent head-to-head competition. London is a special case, where multiple franchises will be granted.


SPECIFICATIONS

Description High-street print franchise
Product range
Range of small-format and wide-format print output
Central support Marketing collateral, branding guidelines, file set-up guides, group purchasing, central website, newsletter, conferences and optional training
Price upfront: up to £10,000; ongoing: £500/month
Contact
0118 9331242 www.printcafe.co.uk


ALTERNATIVES

Kall Kwik

After a few years in the desert, former boss Nigel Toplis is back at the helm and reinvigorating the brand. He claims its B2B focus ensures better business, while new lower up-front fees should be more viable.
Price
up-front: £50,000; ongoing: 8% franchise fee and 2% marketing contribution
Contact
www.kallkwik.co.uk 01530 513301

Prontaprint

Another high-street stalwart, Prontaprint isn’t a franchise operation but a licensed business. Interested parties can either set-up a new operation or see if any existing owners are looking to sell up.
Price
up-front: £5,000;  ongoing: not disclosed.
Contact
www.prontaprint.com 01784 895012

Printing.com

The original upsetter of the high-street franchise model with its centralised production model and bolt-on concept. The firm has moved on and now offers a range of products, all based around the W3P software platform. Buying the software enables you to use it as a window to your own production. The Marketplace allows you to trade under your brand, but use Printing.com’s production hub, or you can license the brand too.
Price
License to use the Printing.com brand: £2,000 in the first year, £1,000 per year; subsequently (not including software)
Contact www.printing.com 0800 1955590

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