Grosvenor House Papers, once a straightforward paper merchant, has installed a Konica Minolta BizHub 2250 press running inline to a Watkiss PowerSquare 224 booklet maker.
The Kendal business has successfully diversified into becoming the UK’s leading provider of school exercise books, sourcing the majority of these from overseas as well as lining others itself. But schools want to make their mark through branding and this extends to the books that students use for homework and classwork. It has managed this through inkjet overprinting, but with the transparency demanded by Ofsted, schools now want to customise inner pages as well.
Requests for this type of personalisation encouraged managing director Keith Young to develop an in-house print production unit. The company can now produce an exercise book with a school name and logo on front or even for Mr Jones’s Year Nine chemistry class together with the schools own marking guides and instructions printed on every page.
“We decided to begin printing for ourselves in earnest and looked at various options,” Young says. “We went for a duplex mono system to cope with the volume, and for finishing, we decided on an inline system.
“The Watkiss element brings a level of quality we couldn’t get any other way. It is very well built and runs seamlessly with the Konica press, but the main benefit is the end product which is better than any alternative we have seen. The square backed books look great and are easy to stack.
“With some of our smaller books we can produce two-up and then guillotine, plus it is capable of a wide spectrum of book thickness from only a couple of sheets up to over 10mm thick.”
It has worked. In the first five weeks the combination handled more than 1 million books, something that Young says even surprised Konica Minolta. "We knew there was opportunity," he says, "but I was staggered by how big it actually is. Now we're really thinking about a second machine." As well as the mono KM press, Grosvenor House Papers also has a 2070 to print colour covers which are fed into the Watkiss at the same time as the body of the book.
The company also has a laminator to add a more protective finish to some of the books. "We're not the only ones that are offering this," Young continues, "but because we have supplied schools for more than 20 years we have the contacts and are trusted by them."
Alongside the expertise books and paper, the company supplies a range of art and craft related products to schools and other businesses, including Canon large format printers. Its papermilldirect.co.uk website supplies coloured cards papers and envelopes to the hobby market which it acquired last year to join an existing retail store.
As a result of the expansion and diversification the company has grown from 32 to 54 staff in the last two years and has been putting on 24 hour shifts to meet demand for the new style school books.
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