The death of the printed postcard has been very much exaggerated in the last week following the announcement that J Salmon is to wind up its Sevenoaks postcard and calendar operation at the end of this year.
But further down the A21 in St Leonards on Sea, Judge Sampson is still churning out postcards for its own publishing business and for other publishing organisations. And while postcards and calendars remain an important part of the product mix, it is not all the company offers.
There are seaside souvenirs of all types, and ranges for other areas of high tourist traffic. “Part of J Salmon's problem is that they stuck to printing postcards and calendars,” says sales director Trevor Wolford. “We still do calendars and postcards and other regional souvenirs. We continue to produce cards with local views, but had we stuck to this we would not be here today.”
The company’s diversification began in the 1980s and has included investment in digital as well as litho printing. It has developed a web portal to allow clients to order from its stock list of printed items and to help publishers create and manage their own designs. These can include cups, fridge magnets, key fobs, badges and more.
It will print for local publishers who perhaps lack their own print facilities, taking their own images and selling the cards within a limited area, the Isle of Wight for example, says Wolford.
“Demand for the traditional postcard has gradually declined,” he says. “We have responded by printing exclusive and classic postcards and reduced the numbers we print to enable customers to cut the amount of stock they have to hold.
“We will now print as few as 100 of a design, while ten years ago it was 1,250 each as a minimum order.”
Up the road, J Salmon has told customers that it will cease to trade at the end of the year as demand for its postcards has fallen. It marks a further consolidation of the market which led to the collapse of Scarborough printer ETW Dennis, producer of the Eric Gill postcards, in 2000.
Judge Sampson has been reducing its reliance on seaside postcards creating packs of named souvenirs and cards from other high traffic tourist destinations like London, Oxford and Cambridge. These can be ordered online from the St Leonards on Sea business.
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