07 Jul 2020

Spandex achieves ISO 9001 re-certification in the UK reaffirming its excellence in customer services

Spandex Iso Cert

The UK operation of Spandex, the pioneering one-stop supplier of solutions to the digital printing and sign making industries worldwide, has announced its re-certification to ISO 9001:2008.

This was awarded in recognition of Spandex's compliance with quality process standards and effective quality management systems in the sales and distribution of sign making and digital materials and equipment.

Phil McMullin, Spandex UK Country Manager, comments: "Achieving the re-certification translates to excellence in customer service which is at the heart of what we do at Spandex. Conformance to ISO 9001 quality assurance standards required the implementation of procedural changes, training and adjustments to operating systems in many aspects of our business. Our continuous improvement initiative in achieving this goal is due to the tremendous teamwork of everyone in the company. It underpins our customer-centric approach and ongoing improvement in the quality of service we deliver.

"A concrete example is that in the last two years we've improved our on-time, next-day delivery performance from 96% to 99.4%. This is a real benefit to our customers especially those in more remote locations who rely on us to turn around jobs quickly without carrying inventory themselves."

The certification audit was carried out by Lloyd's Register Quality Assurance (LRQA), a world leader in assessing business processes against internationally recognised standards. ISO 9000 is a series of internationally-recognised standards developed by the International Organization of Standardization which define requirements for the implementation of quality systems in operational procedures.

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BPIF Printing Outlook cites autumn improvement but with poorer prospects ahead


Print benefited from a further expansion in trade during the autumn but trade is expected to weaken during the winter period, according to the latest Printing Outlook report published by the BPIF on 14th January 2011. The latest industry trading trends survey results cover the three month period ending 30 November. It was carried out online during the period 1-17 December 2010, and consists of 98 companies employing 11,917 people with a turnover of £1.3 billion.

The report reveals that not only was trade better than in the summer, with more companies reporting an improvement than a weakening in trade on balance, but that it was also above expectations. The positive balance between those companies that reporting improvement compared to those reporting deterioration was +28:- the highest reading since autumn last year and the second highest over the past three years.

Almost half of survey respondents (46%) saw trade pick up, which compares favourably with 18% that had expected improvement. On the negative side, 18% reported a slow-down. This is the highest reading since last winter and compares with only 3% that had anticipated a weaker period at the time of the previous forecast. Prospects for the winter months are not promising though with trade predicted to slow in the period. While around a half of firms (48%) expect market stability, a further 42% forecast deterioration.

Utilisation rates are beginning to rise for those operating at lower capacity levels, with more than half reportedly operating at between 80-89% of capacity during the autumn. Lead times are also generally lengthening, with 63% reporting three weeks or more compared with 54% three months ago. The majority of printers report output levels, with 54% of companies boosting production in the period under review. Just 10% reported lower output and this positive balance of +44 compares with a longer-term average increase of +27 for the period. Order levels improved for no less than 64% of printers during the autumn, the highest level for three years.

Worryingly though, printers failed to benefit from higher demand through increased domestic prices, which remained little changed over the past three months for two-thirds of print firms.   Jobs too suffered, with 31% of companies recorded a fall in numbers employed compared with 18% that took on more staff. This continues the recent trend of negative employment balances being registered for the third consecutive survey.

There were no surprises for printers when it came to paper and board costs. More than three-quarters (77%) paid more over the past three months, pretty close to the 81% that had predicted increases. Three-fifths of respondents expect to pay higher charges in the coming three months, with more than a third anticipating increased prices for ink and just under a third expecting to pay more for energy.

The results covering margins on sales came in close to levels predicted three months earlier: a slight overall increase of +1 was recorded, which compares with a forecast of +4. Predictions for the winter period suggest a continuation of this trend, with no less than four-fifths of firms expecting margins to remain constant. Similarly, the past three months saw a marked improvement in profit levels, with more than two-third of print firms recording earnings of 4.5% and above. This compares with slightly over a half at the time of the last survey.

Investment intentions are looking more upbeat. 93% of printers are set to invest in plant and machinery over the next 12 months, with 47% expecting to spend more than last year. Almost a half of printers expected to invest in plant and machinery, up from a third three months ago. A fourth quarter decline in print and packaging insolvencies has kept the annual total below the 2008 and 2009 levels.

It is clear from the survey results that the comprehensive spending review and government cutbacks will affect the printing industry; indeed the uncertainty surrounding this has already had an impact. Over three-fifths (62%) of those companies that did printing for the public sector had noted a decline in the value of public sector work obtained in the three months to the end of November and they estimate that over one-third (33.5%) of the value of public sector work has already been lost at these companies.

Access to finance improved for some, with a balance of 13% of respondents recording an improvement in the availability of credit lines with suppliers in the year to November.  However 75% recorded no change from what would historically be poor availability. In the year to November 20% of respondents experienced an improvement in the availability of bank lending facilities and 12% a reduction in the cost of bank lending.  Unfortunately this was offset by 19% of companies reporting a decline in bank lending and 19% an increase in the cost of borrowing from banks. The level of bad debt remains an issue too: although 11% reported an improvement, the balance reporting an increase fell from the 13% reported in the previous quarter to 5% this time. Debtor days, which have been at 56 days in the previous two quarters, fell to 54 days, while creditor days shrank to 68 days from the 72 recorded in the previous quarter. 

Respondents were asked to cite their top business concerns currently. Predatory pricing featured top of the list, with 65% of respondents citing 'competitors pricing below cost’. 'Paper or board prices' (55%) came a close second, with 'survival of major customers' being selected by 18% of respondents, followed very closely by 'private sector cutbacks', 'public sector cutbacks' and 'late payment by customers’.

BPIF Corporate Affairs Director Andrew Brown welcomed the upturn in trade reported in Printing Outlook but warns “this is traditionally a better time of year for printers and the latest result is exactly in keeping with the average positive reading recorded during the autumn months over the past 10 years. As was the case with all of our more recent surveys, any improvement, while very welcome, is from a very low base compared with pre-recession levels. The forecasts for the winter months are less promising.  It is clear that public sector spending cutbacks are taking their toll on our sector and we are also concerned at the number of respondents who are forecasting deterioration in trade during the period to end February.”



B&P Graphic Supplies goes into ‘technical insolvency’

Bp Logo

Lorraine Whitburn and Andrew Wilson, the directors of B&P Graphic Supplies Ltd, have announced the ‘technical insolvency’ of the organisation following a county court case with business consultancy Reprocad Ltd.  The court found in favour of Reprocad to the value of £9,908.50.  B&P Graphic Supplies (BPGS) announced its ‘technical insolvency’ in a letter to another alleged outstanding creditor – US-based Ultraflex – stating it had ‘insufficient funds or assets to go into formal insolvency’.

BPGS has several other alleged outstanding creditors.  Responding to the allegations, Andrew Wilson has stated:”They are inaccurate and some even fictitious... there is no mention of the debts owed to B&P Graphic Supplies by the individuals and companies who have made the allegations.  No mention has been made about what debts may be paid when the company’s affairs have been completed.”

In a statement provided to SignLink magazine, Peter Barton, director of Reprocad, explained why he took BPGS to court: “Having worked as a retained consultant for BPGS for over a year, developing their supplier chain and extending their business footprint, along with handling PR issues, I was hugely disappointed to see that the payment of my invoices was slipping out to months rather than days.  My entreaties for payment brought reassurances about improvements in financial arrangements and cash flow in general, which turned out to be exaggerations. After months of defending the honour of BPGS in the marketplace I found that all the promises that my invoices had been signed off and were ready to pay were untrue. I thus found it necessary to take legal action, and gained a county court judgment on November 1st 2010 with payment ordered forthwith.”

Peter Barton of Reprocad – along with other involved companies – is now considering a joint legal action to recover their outstanding debts.

Prior to the declaration of ‘technical insolvency’ by BPGS, Wilson, along with a co-director, set up another company – South West Graphics, trading as Time 2 Display UK.  Since its creation, Ian Robertson – a former colleague of Whitburn and Wilson – has taken full ownership of the organisation – with Whitburn and Wilson becoming its employees.

Wide-format printer "Picks" awarded to HP and Canon

Hp Z6200

Buyers Laboratory Inc. (BLI) has revealed the Winter 2011 "Pick" winners in the wide-format category, with honours going to HP and Canon. BLI’s "Pick" awards are presented semi-annually to the products that perform the best in their respective categories throughout BLI’s in-depth lab testing. During the test, BLI evaluates all critical performance areas, including reliability, image quality, productivity, ease of use, paper handling, print drivers and administrative utilities, among others.

The Winter 2011 Wide-Format “Pick” winners are:

  • Hewlett-Packard Company, HP Designjet Z6200 Photo Printer for Outstanding Colour Inkjet Wide-Format Production Photo Printer
  • Canon USA Inc., Canon imagePROGRAF iPF6350 for Outstanding Colour Inkjet Wide-Format Small Workgroup Photo Printer

HP Designjet Z6200 Offers Blistering Productivity and Superior Colour Quality

Offering the fastest print speeds ever recorded for a wide-format photo printer in BLI testing, the HP Designjet Z6200 Photo Printer was selected as BLI’s "Pick" for “Outstanding Colour Inkjet Wide-Format Production Photo Printer.” The unit did not sacrifice quality as a result of its unparalleled productivity, delivering excellent photographic image quality on numerous media types. To be sure, this eight-ink 60-inch model, which is also available in a 42-inch version, produced a wider than average colour gamut as well, employing HP’s new chromatic red ink in place of the traditional cyan.

"The HP Designjet Z6200 is a remarkable wide-format printer that can easily handle the demands of a busy print shop," said Joe Tischner, BLI wide-format printer analyst. "The printer’s numerous color management tools are especially noteworthy, enabling very easy media calibration and ICC profiling. The unit’s unique Pantone colour emulation is also great for accurate colour matching."

"HP is delighted to receive the Buyers Lab 'Pick’ award for 'Outstanding Colour Inkjet Wide-Format Production Photo Printer’ for the HP Designjet Z6200 Photo Printer, an award reflecting the positive feedback we have consistently heard from our customers," said Antonio Moreno, product manager for the HP Designjet Z6200 Photo Printer in the Graphics Solutions Business at HP. "The device is a true workhorse with speeds up to 50 percent faster than its predecessor, the HP Designjet Z6100 Printer, and the versatility to deliver a wide range of applications, including those that demand the best quality."

Canon imagePROGRAF iPF6350 Demonstrates Exceptional Image Quality and Impressive Ease of Use

The Canon imagePROGRAF iPF6350 was chosen by BLI as a "Pick" award winner for “Outstanding Colour Inkjet Wide-Format Small Workgroup Photo Printer based on its glowing overall performance during BLI’s lab test, and not the least of which for its excellent colour and black-and-white print quality. This 24-inch, 12-colour printer produced exceptional photographic quality prints. Technicians were impressed not only with colour photographic output, but with the neutral gray tones exhibited on monochrome prints and in particular the prints’ lack of bronzing.

Canon has made numerous improvements to the imagePROGRAF iPF6350, which ultimately garnered the unit an excellent rating for ease of use. "Whether loading rolls or cut sheets, this printer is extremely user-friendly, and navigating the redesigned control panel is a lot easier," said Tischner,. The unit’s new Accounting Manager was also a prominent feature recognised for its straightforward design and robust functionality, offering end users valuable cost-per-job data.

"Canon is pleased that the imagePROGRAF iPF6350 has been recognised by BLI with the 2011 'Outstanding Wide-Format Colour Inkjet Small Workgroup Photo Printer’ 'Pick’ award for delivering the colour quality, precision and speed required by the graphic arts and photography markets. From detail-oriented monochrome images to vibrant, large-format output, the flagship imagePROGRAF 12-colour line reflects Canon’s commitment to bringing comprehensive imaging solutions to end-users of all types," said Jim Rosetta, vice president and general manager, Imaging Systems Group, Canon USA.


The convergence of display graphics with the conventional digital print sector brings new player to the market


Reprographic Technology International (RTI), a leading alternative supplier of OEM and OEM-compatible spares and consumables to both the Digital Production Print and Wide Format Plan Print marketplaces, announces its entry into the Display Graphics arena.

Combined with projected year-on-year growth in the Display Graphics sector, the company has also recognised that the traditionally disparate markets of “repro” and “signage” are coming together, creating an opportunity for RTI to bring its 20+ years experience to Display Graphics customers.

RTI will stock a full range of its “ColorMatched” brand, high quality, inks and media for aqueous, solvent and UV-curable digital printers.  As an ISO 9001-2008 registered company, RTI will bring to sign and display customers the level of service and support that has traditionally been demanded by production print customers.

Erik Norman, VP of sales and marketing, says, “We have observed the trend for our conventional reprographic customers to move more and more into display graphics as volumes in the reprographic market fall, and profits are eroded.   A strong indication of this is that, for the first time ever, the 2011 ISA (International Sign Association) show is to be combined with the IRgA (International Reprographics Association) show in Las Vegas.

Combining our current business in the Digital Production and Wide Format sectors with our entry into the supply of consumables and media for Display Graphics customers means that RTI is one of the first global suppliers across these sectors.  I can’t think of another single entity doing this, and it enables us to provide a one-stop shopping experience for customers participating in all three sectors.  We are piloting our Display Graphics business in Europe from our UK office, and will then roll this out across the organisation.

We will continue to trade on our strengths in building strong, long-term, relationships with our customers and with the world’s best manufacturers of media and supplies, and we intend to bring our goods and services to every digital print discipline.”