17 March 2019 Print Companies

Solopress to add merchandise to online offer

Southend printer will expand from supply of printed paper-based products into branded merchandise for promotional needs.

Solopress is preparing to expand the range of products sold through its online portal to include a full range of what managing director Simon Cooper calls “merchandising products”.

He explains: “There will be many many more Skus, covering pens, USB sticks, pen knives. It’s exciting for us and an interesting differentiator to add to our core range of products.”

It will be the first outward change since he joined the business alongside founder Aron Priest in February, following a period of gardening leave after leaving Tradeprint last year. There will be no immediate changes to how Solopress operates, though in the longer term, there is work to be done.

“When I spoke with Aron, it was obviously a very good fit: I had the experience in e-commerce and had come up from the shopfloor into production management, and I also understand the technology and e-commerce marketing. And there’s the fact that Solopress is 30 minutes from home. It ticked all the boxes.”

The to-do list includes improvements to the look and feel of the website. “How do you get better at marketing, improving the user experience in order to enable customers to work with you and the products that are offered? It’s also about higher quality and more reliable services levels.”

This will be implemented over time with the need for a major reorganisation of the business, Cooper says. “We’re not rushing at anything. I have to understand the business properly before any changes.”

One of the changes that will come is a modernisation of the underlying technology to bring that in line with modern thinking and also to integrate more closely with Onlineprinters and LaserTryk within the same group. This will enable more accurate reporting of each business for comparison and management decision making. The question is whether this can be done through upgrading what is in place or whether it requires a ground up reorganisation.

There are now eight B2 litho presses in the Southend factory while its sister companies both run B1 machines. Consideration is being given to B1 at Solopress, but this is currently at a very early stage, Cooper stresses. First comes the expansion of the product line. “That happens in the next week or so,” he says.

By Gareth Ward

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Three in charge

Three in charge

Simon Cooper (centre) joined Solopress as managing director at the start of February and will run the business with operations director Kevin Seaden (right) while co-founder Aron Priest takes a sales focused and ambassadorial role.

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