Page 25 - Print 21 Magazine May-June 2019
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Diversification: David Martin, CEO Spicers, (centre) with Print21 publisher Lindy Hughson and Print21 editor Wayne Robinson
For print and packaging businesses price is also key, and one that has been on an upwards march last year, with new rises early this year. Martin says, “We have to pass on price increases unfortunately, we have no more room to accommodate them.” The industry is hoping for a period of stability for the rest of this year, we’re watching these recently announced mill closures with interest.
Paper and board remain the core of the Spicers business, with the merchant supplying commercial printers, packaging printers – with a dozen different types of board – and label printers. However, like many businesses in the printing community, both suppliers and printers, Spicers is engaging on a strategy of diversification, seeking to leverage its considerable skill sets into new areas.
The company entered the growing wide format world eight years ago when it bought Chris Williams’ business, and has gone on to develop one of the biggest sign and display hardware and consumables businesses in the country. Sales
are now at $79.3m in the last financial year, although that did represent a dip over the previous year. The company was hit by one of its main customer’s customer, Coles, spending its marketing budget on plastic toys – for which it copped a fair bit of flak in these environmentally conscious times – and Martin says Coles will be back with display promotions this year.
As part of its ongoing strategy of diversification Spicers has just inked a deal to become the Master- Distributor for 3M for exclusive products including window films. It is already supplying media for the construction industry, and is also in the architectural sector.
Martin says, “Both for Spicers, and our clients, the broadening of the product range offers opportunities. For instance, for printers producing vehicle wraps, the window films
are an added product that can be installed with similar skills. We
are looking at overlaps in products where we can provide our customers with the means to provide more
to their customers or extend their business without a major stretch or investment in capability.”
“For printers who are prepared to invest some time and thought into emerging opportunities the rewards are real.”
– David Martin, CEO Spicers
The Spicers sign and display business is split almost equally between commercial printers who have moved into wide format, and traditional sign and display printers. Its new focus is enabling both sectors to seek out and exploit the emerging market opportunities, for instance with architects. Martin says, “Both for our company, and for traditional commercial printers, the imperative is to move into new areas, as commercial print volumes continue to struggle.”
Those opportunities are emerging. For instance, in interior décor Spicers is the exclusive supplier of 3M Di- Noc vinyl, which enables customised finishes for all kinds of surfaces, from woodgrain to metal, and will mean, for example, that hotels
can go through a refurbishment programme for a much lower cost than replacing all the surfaces –
they simply apply the film.
Martin says, “This is just one of many applications, and for printers who are prepared to invest some
time and thought into emerging opportunities the rewards are real. Moving beyond printing a poster, printers and sign shops can ask themselves where they can find a niche, and then operate in that niche with these new products.”
Spicers is also about to launch a new product into the narrow web self adhesive market. Martin says, “The new product range will not be
a me-too, it will offer the narrow
web sector something new, both flexo and digital. It will enable our customers more productivity with some amazing end use performance.”
Martin is continuing to drive engagement with the design community, his team are working hard to get the message of the value of print over to the new generation emerging in the digital era.
“High value print is recognised in some sectors and not in others,” he says. “For instance, in property marketing our Stephen range will provide exactly what the marketing people want.
“Our team is having terrific conversations with designers, all designed to win against other methods in the marketing mix.”
Much of this is short-run digital printing, which is growing at around five per cent a year, but the volumes are way below the amount of pallets that commercial print used to gobble up.
Spicers has been through a tumultuous time, there is no doubt about that, but appears to have emerged from it with a clear strategy of providing print businesses – commercial, sign and display, and narrow web – with the tools to go to market with added value solutions that will enable them to leverage their skills into new areas
of opportunity. 21
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