26 Oct 2021

Oakdene Designs grows with Roland DG technology

Roland Ben Grist LEF LFR

Ben Grist, founder of Oakdene Designs, first came across Roland DG printers whilst at college and knew from that moment he wanted to own one of his own. An entrepreneur at heart, at the age of 17, Ben started his first business, manufacturing high end chicken coops. He soon invested in a Roland DG GX-24, the predecessor to the GS-24 Desktop Cutter, allowing him to produce custom-made stickers for the coops. The desktop printer required a low initial investment and this, coupled with Ben’s prior knowledge of the machine from college, made the GX-24 the perfect choice for the newly launched business.

Wanting to diversify and expand, Ben explored the applications possible available using the versatile Roland DG machine and was able to start a new business producing and selling wall stickers and prints through well-known commercial retailer websites such as ‘Not on the High Street’ - and in 2012 Oakdene Designs was born.

Juggling a product design course at Bournemouth University with his new business venture, Ben made the decision to leave university in his final year of studies to fully concentrate on his design company which was growing month by month. The business was run out of a small studio at the end of his road in Brockham, Surrey alongside his 3 members of staff to keep overhead costs at a minimum. The decision proved to be the right choice as Oakdene Designs achieved a turnover of 60k in its first year.

As the operation grew from strength to strength, Ben was keen to diversify into new and exciting markets and so he invested in a Roland DG GX-500 from the CAMM-1 PRO GX Series. Much larger in size than the GX-24 desktop cutter, the powerful vinyl cutter combined with an aqueous printer gave the team the opportunity to create a more diverse variety of products including canvases, decorative signs, adhesive wallpaper murals and larger wall sticker sets.

Looking to streamline work processes, and further increase the business offering, in 2014 Ben also invested in a Roland DG SOLJET PRO 4 XR-640 wide format inkjet printer/cutter. Having the print and cut facility in one machine meant that Ben and his team were able to maximise efficiency to produce high-volume, high-quality products on demand. Soon after, Oakdene Designs introduced a more creative product range to include personalised printed photos, signs and larger bespoke canvas.

Commenting on the rapid expansion, Ben said: “As business started to pick-up I knew I needed more than a desktop cutter. The GX-24 had been a great first investment and given us the chance to find our feet and understand where we wanted to be in the market. The addition of the two new Roland DG machines meant we could expand on our vision to offer an exciting range of bespoke decorative products.”

In 2016 the small team of eight full-time staff members were selling high-volume specially made-to-order decorative products on the web in the UK and worldwide and had reached an annual turnover of over one million in four years. Determined to remain competitive and maintain the level of growth the business has achieved, Ben, who is always thinking of new ideas and design opportunities, came across the Roland DG VersaUV LEF-300 UV Printer. The UV inkjet flatbed printer could take Oakdene Designs productivity to the next level and offer the flexibility of digital customisation and personalisation, which was a growing market trend that Ben was keen to exploit. Without any delay the LEF-300 was soon part of the Oakdene Designs family and not long after its arrival, the business was able to expand its product line accordingly.

The UV printer was able to print directly onto a wide range of substrates, allowing Oakdene Designs to create a larger range of unique decorative items to include bamboo decorations, illuminating photos, street signs and transparent photos. Built to meet high-volume demands, the UV printer provides a consistent high-quality finish even during long production runs.

“The addition of the LEF-300 gave us the ability to print onto a larger variety of materials including wood, fabric leather and acrylic, all without a primer. We have remained successful at Oakdene Designs because we are constantly thinking of new and innovative designs that no one else has done before, and using our Roland DG machines, we have been able to produce some really exciting stuff,” Ben added.

With personalisation at the heart of Oakdene Designs’ success, the Brockham-based business is looking forward to the future and have hopes to one day take creativity to new heights with the purchase of a Roland DG LEJ-640FT, the newest addition to the Roland DG UV range.

“I knew from the minute I first started working with Roland DG machinery at college that the machines were something I wanted to work with forever. The ease of use, versatility and power are incomparable and have been an essential element to the success of the business. At Oakdene Designs we have succeeded by combining our Roland DG machine capabilities together to create new and innovative products. By continuing to do this we will carry on providing our customers with the high-quality products that they have come to expect. All that’s stopping us is our imagination!”

For more information on all of Roland DG’s products, please visit: www.rolanddg.co.uk.

For more information on Oakdene designs products: http://www.oakdenedesigns.com/

Roland Oakdene sticker LFR

FASTSIGNS to double UK market presence by 2018


FASTSIGNS has unveiled more details on its UK growth strategy as it aims to double its number of franchises by 2018. The global sign and graphics specialist already has 20 franchise centres across the country and is on course to be operating in 24 locations by the end of the year. Newly released forecasts show that number reaching 30-32 during 2017, before hitting 40 by 2018.

Following the recent launch of the country’s first Co-Branded centre in Oxford North, FASTSIGNS’ UK team will be heavily focused on its franchise, Co-Brand and conversion models.

“There are very clear benefits to this approach,” commented John Davies, Managing Director of FASTSIGNS UK. “Our Co-Brand offering allows a new franchisee to effectively bolt-on FASTSIGNS’ services to their existing business. Their own operations continue as normal, but they have the added benefit of selling FASTSIGNS branded goods, as well as joining our centre network and enjoying benefits such as additional expertise, marketing support and training.

“We’re actively seeking print or photography businesses who feel their growth has plateaued. They need to have at least three members of staff, including a salesperson and production / graphic designer. The sales target for the first year is £125,000-£140,000, rising to £200,000-£250,000 in year two, so the potential for growth with this additional revenue stream is substantial. This is already proving a hugely successful model at our Oxford North centre, where we joined forces with in excess of £3.5m-turnover photography and creative design firm Ward-Hendry.”

John and his team anticipate an even split between Co-Branded centres and more traditional FASTSIGNS franchises. 2016 has already seen a notable increase in calls from people looking to explore the more traditional franchisee route and set-up a FASTSIGNS branded business from scratch.

“During the recession, the UK franchise market stood still,” added John. “Franchise owners focused on maintaining business rather than seeking new opportunities, and then focused on maintenance and inward investment. However, we are now seeing franchise owners looking to expand their portfolios once again. Now, it seems, is the time for growth and we’re well placed to offer a viable and profitable opportunity.”

As part of the growth strategy, FASTSIGNS has also revealed that it is looking to target more high-visibility locations, including major arterial roads, rather than high street stores. This reflects a shift in the business from being predominantly retail focused, to now offering a wide array of visual communications, such as external signage, banner displays, vehicle graphics, promotional items and digital advertising solutions.

FASTSIGNS currently has over 640 centres in nine countries, including US, Canada, UK, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Grand Cayman, Mexico and Australia.

For more information on FASTSIGNS’ UK franchise opportunities, visit www.fastsigns.co.uk/franchise-opportunities.

Mimaki dye sublimation printer packages deliver value and performance

Mimaki JV300 160 LFR

Exclusive UK and Irish Mimaki distributor, Hybrid Services Ltd., has announced a range of competitively-priced dye sublimation printer packages designed to deliver a unique combination of performance, an attractive entry price, and low running costs.

The two packages, based on the acclaimed 1.6m wide JV150 and JV300 platforms, start at just £11,995 and include a comprehensive two-year gold warranty, easy to use RIP software, Mimaki’s own bulk ink system and 16 litres of the latest Sb54 dye sublimation ink plus powered feed and take up devices.

“These two packages deliver incredible value for companies looking at bringing dye sub printing to their business,” says Hybrid’s National Sales Manager, Textile & Apparel, Stephen Woodall. “There is understandable excitement around the potential revenue that dye sublimation printed output can bring and these systems leverage Mimaki’s peerless textile printing heritage.”

Mimaki’s latest Sb54 dye sublimation ink set offers market-leading value thanks to a price of only £52.50 / litre. This, coupled with the backup of a two-year manufacturer’s warranty on the hardware, ensures print companies benefit from both low running costs and peace of mind. The ink is suitable for sublimation printing onto textile and rigid substrates and delivers a vibrant, long lasting result.

“Sportswear, fast fashion, promotional products, event signage and textile point of sale are ideal avenues to explore with a wide format dye sublimation printer such as the JV150 or super-fast JV300,” continues Woodall.

Companies investing in the packages need only add their choice of heat press to complete the system, as Woodall points out: “Our specialist dye sub and textile resellers are perfectly placed to offer expert advice on the most appropriate heat press for the customer’s business. This, along with installation and training are all that’s required to complete their investment and bring a whole new range of products to their business.”

Available now through Hybrid’s textile reseller network, the JV150 and JV300 dye sublimation printer packages join Mimaki’s highly regarded textile and dye sublimation line-up which offers solutions across a broad range of sizes, speeds and price points.

“It’s never been easier to get into dye sublimation printing,” concludes Woodall. “With these new Mimaki packages, we’re able to offer a system that costs very little to invest in initially, retains low running costs and can deliver a highly profitable end product. With Hybrid and Mimaki’s experience and our knowledgeable reseller network, we’re able to train and support new customers ensuring they’re up and running quickly too.”

[Picture caption: The Mimaki JV300-160 is bundled with ink and bulk ink system to add value for prospective purchasers.]

Hollywood Monster's Tim Andrews crowned West Midlands' Director of the Year

Hollywood Monster IoD award LFR

Birmingham businessman, Tim Andrews, has been crowned this year’s West Midlands Director of the Year at the annual IoD Director of the Year Awards.

With more than three decades' experience at the helm of printing and signage giant Hollywood Monster, Tim Andrews has been recognised by the West Midlands branch of the Institute of Directors for his “incredible contribution” to both business and the community in the region.

Jason Wouhra, Chairman of IoD West Midlands, commented: "Tim is quite simply a force of nature, somehow managing to fit several jobs into a working week. It's clear from clients' comments that he always puts them first and leads by example with his astonishing work ethic. Throughout the recession and ever since, Hollywood Monster has posted consistently strong growth and profits - a testament to his strategy to continually invest in the company's people and technology.”

Tim and his father, John, co-founded what is now known as Hollywood Monster in their loft space in 1991. In August 2009, the two sister companies – Hollywood Signs and Monster Digital – were merged and moved to Headquarters in Tyseley, where the business still remains today. From this base, Hollywood Monster employs more than 70 people and works with some of the biggest names across a range of sectors, including commercial, construction, events, exhibitions, property, retail, theatre and sport. Some of the business’ best-known projects include the Mailbox redevelopment graphics, during its £50 million revamp; Coca Cola advertising next to the 2012 Olympic Park; large scale hoardings for Westfield Stratford developments; and even banners to help Arsenal FC celebrate their victory over Aston Villa in the 2015 FA Cup Final.

“To say that I’m honoured to win this award is a complete understatement – being recognised by the IoD I, without a doubt, one of the highlights of my career to date,” said Tim. “I am really proud that, after 25 years, Hollywood Monster remains a family-run business and operates from the heart of Birmingham. The challenging economy has seen the business, and our target sectors, change over the years but our team has remained dedicated to providing the best possible quality and service for each and every client.”

In addition to Hollywood Monster, at the beginning of this year, Tim was named as the new CEO of Birmingham City Ladies FC, taking responsibility of off-field activities, particularly developing the club in an ever-increasingly competitive and financially demanding climate.

Added to this, Tim is also known as a leading corporate fundraiser in the region, having been behind major charity events and part of the team that launched the 7inSeven cycle initiative in 2013. Tim is also Chairman and Trustee at LoveBrum, which unearths and funds hidden gem projects that make Birmingham an even better place to live. He was awarded a West Midlands Pride Award at the Business Masters 2013 and 2015, and at yesterday’s IoD Director of the Year Awards also picked up the corporate social responsibility award.

“Giving back to the community and supporting the work of people in the community is something I’m extremely passionate about. I have been involved in many charity events and fundraisers over the years – and I’ve completed challenges from 700-mile bike rides through to running eight marathons around the world – raising well over £200,000 for local causes. Through LoveBrum, I’m able to help smaller projects run by people who simply want to make Birmingham a better place to live,” he concluded.

Dye-sublimation expert i-Sub rejoins Roland DG family

i-Sub is now a distributor for Roland DG dye-sublimation equipment

 i-Sub has announced it has been appointed a reseller for Roland dye-sublimation printer systems.

EU Remain lead 'narrows amongst businesses' as referendum approaches


Welcome to the June 2016 Newsletter in association with Aequitas Accountants Ltd. With the EU referendum fast approaching, many businesses are weighing up the pros and cons of voting to leave or remain a part of the EU. As politicians continue to hotly debate the issue, recent data from the British Chambers of Commerce suggests that the 'Remain' lead has narrowed among business leaders, although a majority of those polled in their final survey intend to vote to stay in the EU.

Meanwhile, under new legislation UK companies must begin providing information to Companies House regarding 'persons with significant control' (PSCs), with effect from 30 June onwards. We provide an overview of the key requirements.

EU Remain lead 'narrows amongst businesses' as referendum approaches
In its final pre-referendum poll, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) found that the gap between the Remain and Leave campaigns has narrowed, although a majority of the senior businesspeople surveyed (54.1%) intend to vote to remain in the European Union in the referendum on 23 June.

Commenting on the findings, Dr Adam Marshall, BCC Acting Director General, said: 'As the EU referendum campaign enters the final straight, the race for the business vote has clearly tightened'.
In the survey, those trading with other EU markets expressed the strongest support for the Remain campaign, while businesspeople representing large firms were found to be significantly more likely to vote Remain than those in micro-businesses.

The BCC survey also suggested that many individuals are now committed to their voting preferences. Only a minimal amount of respondents (0.3%) stated that they were as yet uncommitted, while 10.8% said that they could potentially change their mind before the referendum.

Other key findings included:

  • For the majority of business leaders, the referendum has had no material impact to date on various aspects of their business
  • However, many reported that they expect to see significant impacts following the referendum, especially in the event of a vote to leave
  • Were the UK to leave the EU, 35.9% reported that they would expect a negative impact on their overall growth strategy, whilst 15.9% believe that it would have a positive impact
  • Should the UK remain in the EU, 12.8% expect this to have a negative impact on their overall growth strategy, while nearly a third (30.1%) believe that it would have a positive impact.

Dr Marshall added: 'Whichever outcome prevails, Westminster must shift its attention back to the economy on June 24 without delay. Growth is softening, and Westminster's referendum 'tunnel vision' over the past year has meant that far too many key economic issues have been given short shrift or delayed altogether.'

Companies required to produce a register of 'persons with significant control'

Recent changes to company law have imposed new obligations on UK companies, as well as those holding interests in UK companies.

Following the changes, UK companies are now required to produce a 'persons with significant control' (PSC) register, containing details of the ultimate beneficial owners of the company.

This information must be filed with Companies House, where it will be held in a public register, with the stated aim of improving the level of transparency of UK companies.

The requirement for companies to keep a PSC register came into effect on 6 April 2016, and under the regulations companies must:

  • Identify the people with significant control over the company and confirm their information
  • Record the details on the company's own PSC register
  • Provide this information to Companies House as part of the annual Confirmation Statement (formerly the Annual Return) from 30 June 2016, and update the register on an ongoing basis.
    Companies must look beyond the individuals who immediately own their shares, in order to identify those individuals or entities which ultimately have significant control of the company.

A PSC is defined as an individual to whom one or more of the following applies:

  • either directly or indirectly holds more than 25% of the shares in a company
  • either directly or indirectly holds more than 25% of the voting rights in a company
  • has the right to appoint or remove a majority of a company's board of directors
  • exercises, or has the right to exercise, significant influence or control over the company
  • exercises, or has the right to exercise, significant influence or control over the activities of a trust or firm which is not a legal entity, and which itself meets one of the above conditions.

Notice must be given by the company to any people or entities that it believes are registrable for the PSC, allowing one month for the recipient to provide confirmation of their position. Any individual who knows, or ought reasonably to know, that they should be registered is also required to notify the company of their interest.

Information on the company's own PSC register must be updated on an ongoing basis. Under the new 'check and confirm' process, which replaces the Annual Return, companies will supply a confirmation statement affirming whether the information remains up-to-date. Failure to comply with the new rules could potentially result in significant financial penalties and a criminal conviction.

Aequitas help with all aspects of managing your business, including your company secretarial requirements. Please contact Aequitas for assistance.

1 June -New advisory fuel rates applicable.
30 June -End of CT61 quarterly period.
Annual adjustment for VAT partial exemption calculations (March VAT year end).