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New Suit fits for Richard Edward – Toys n Playthings May 09 Issue 8 Vol 28

Card manufacturer Richard Edward has chosen a winner in its Suit You Sir competition, for school kids to create new designs for a pack of cards.

The competition attracted a phenomenal level of entries in its inaugural year, after it was launched by Richard Edward in partnership with Waddington’s No 1 playing cards, Make Your Mark campaign, The Worshipful Company of Makers of playing Cards and Greenwich Education Business Partnership.

The ‘Suit You Sir’ playing card design challenge was initially open to schools in the Bexley, Lewisham and Greenwich boroughs. The sheer number of entries and enthusiasm has convinced the partners to extend to a national competition in 2009/2010.

The winner was a team from Bexley Grammar School, who used the 2012 Olympics as a theme for their design, supported by a strong narrative illustrating the commercial potential for the playing cards. The winning design will now be transformed into a pack of playing cards by Richard Edward, with 500 packs donated to the school for sale.

Louisa Moger, marketing director at Richard Edward said: “This has been a fantastic opportunity for our organisation, and our partners, to engage with education to find the very best in raw talent. We were delighted with the sheer hard work and commitment that had evidently been out into the entries and had a tough job choosing the winner!”

The £1m Tory party – Evening Standard

No it’s not the loans row but the lavish birthday bath for the Conservatives’ biggest donor with Denise, Sir Tom and Lulu.

As parties go, it was always going to be a humdinger. Conservative peer Michael Ashcroft celebrated his 60th birthday in style with an extravagant bash at the Grosvenor House hotel in Park Lane.

If the £1.5million bill was unforgettable, so too was the appearance of Denise Van Outen leaping, singing from a giant cake, and the surprise post dinner performances by Sir Cliff Richard and Sir Tom Jones.

A total of 700 guests, including Tory leader David Cameron, the shadow cabinet and ex leaders Michael Howard, William Hague and Iain Duncan Smith, crammed into a ballroom decked out as a tropical paradise.

Jasper Carrot hosted the black tie event, with the theme of “Fools Paradise”, and entertainment included dancers descending on ropes from the ceiling, tarot readings and a drag artist impersonator morphing from the Queen into Freddie Mercury.

Drinks included £100 a bottle Krug champagne and vintage Pouilly-Fuisse.

A special dartboard featuring photographs of Labour heavyweights proved popular.

“George Osborne scored three bulls eyes in a picture of Gordon Brown, right between the eyes,” said one partygoer. “William Hague was less successful. He was aiming his arrows at Tony Blair but hit Margaret Thatcher’s photograph instead.”

An impromptu rendition of Congratulations by Sir Cliff hailed the arrival of the vast cake from which van Outen jumped before performing a Marilyn Monroe style version of Happy Birthday.

“Michaels eyes were popping out of his head,” said a guest. Other acts included Lulu, The Band if The Scots Guards, and newly knighted Sir Tom performing some his biggest hits, including Its Not Unusual. Insiders said Lulu and Sir Tom would have commanded six figure fees.

“It was quite something to witness, particularly when Christine Hamilton and half a dozen Tom Jones groupies got on stage with him,” said a guest. “Eventually his security guards ushered them off, fearful the situation was getting out of hand.”

TV impressionist Jon Culshaw performed skits as Sir Trevor McDonald, George Bush, Tony Blair and Mr Hague before guests – all under a three-line whip not to leave before 1.30am – were sent home with a memento of a deck of cards featuring cartoons of political heavyweights.
The cards were modelled on the “deck of death” which US forces were given in Iraq during the hunt for Saddam’s henchmen.

Lord Ashcroft’s wife, Susi, planned the party to an agreed budget. But he joked in his speech that days before the event, she confided: “I’ve doubled the budget.” Lord Ashcroft, a former Tory treasurer who last week revealed a £3.6million loan to the party, told the guests: “I asked her how? She said she’d been in the Bank of Belize for a loan which she is now hoping they will write off as a donation.”

He also recalled his 50th birthday party, at which he pledged to swap “fast-lane” living for “the middle lane”, adding: “I lied. I’m still in the fast lane and intend to stay there.”

Guests left having made donations – not to the Tories but the charity Crimestoppers, which benefitted by £200,000.

Toy firms make Gift of the Year shortlist

Interplay and Richard Edward products are shortlisted for the Giftware Association’s annual awards.

Interplay made the shortlist twice with items from its 2009 portfolio. The Solar Powered Butterfly Maker has been selected for the kids category and the New Dangerous Books for Boys Science Discovery Kits were shortlisted in the Under £10 award.

Richard Edward’s GreenCards have made the final list for the eco-friendly category in this year’s awards.

Ross Ainsworth, managing director of Interplay, commented: “We are delighted with the progression of these products into the final judging round and feel very proud that we have had two items shortlisted. The Gift of the Year Awards are entered by all manner of gift suppliers so we know that getting this far is an achievement in itself.”

Louisa Moger, director of Richard Edward said: “We are absolutely delighted that GreenCards have been shortlisted for these prestigious awards. The response to the product since the launch in January, has been fantastic, and this nomination supports the combination of original design and eco-friendly credentials, that are making GreenCards desirable across geographic boundaries.”

The results of the Gift of the Year Awards will be announced at the end of June.

Through adversity to greater strength – Print Week June 2008

When a catastrophic structural failure renders your most valuable assets worthless, make sure you have the team and planning in place to ensure a strong recovery.

Having a £1.5m press fall through the floor would be enough to dampen the spirits of even the most tenacious printer. Family run firm Richard Edward, however, has made a theme of overcoming disaster, to come out of a crisis in a position of greater strength. The 32 year old printers established markets are still key, but it has branched out to push business forward in the face of disaster, highlighting what can be achieved with hard work and proper planning.

Richard Edward was founded in 1976 when brother David and John Moger installed a £200 litho press in their garage. David had to persuade the neighbours that the noise was being made by a lawnmower, but eventually the company moved to a split-level commercial site in Deptford, south east London, before relocating in its current location, a 2,970m2 plant in Thamesmead.

The company was run as a straight commercial printer until in 1995, when it diversified into card products. “We made quite a brave decision about this investment because we bought the lease when previously we were renting,” says the firms marketing director Louisa Moger. “But we wanted a 24 hour operation and everything under one roof.”

Richard Edward purchased two Manroland presses, a six colour and a 10 colour, as it geared up to a move from small business to medium sized enterprise.

Louisa Moger adds: “In 1995, my dad saw an opportunity in card and by stretching our resources, we created a product offering that would take us into new markets and diversify the business.”

Challenging market

But in the 1990’s, volumes declined, competition grew and times got tough. The period between 1998 and 2002 was particularly hard and accumulated losses rose to £1m. “We were not managing our processes efficiently. We were throwing resources at jobs to get the work out but losing money,” says Louisa.

In 2002, the company took a step back to assess what was happening. In the same year, joint founder Jon Moger retired, Louisa (David’s daughter) joined the firm and its current managing director, Kevin Scott, bought a 28% stake. “Kevin saw potential and was very passionate about the business. My dad remained very operational and I started putting the business piece behind production,” she says.

Together they devised a change management programme, analysing the current state of the business – where it needed to improve, and what it might face over the next five years. The plan covered everything: operations, finance, IT, marketing, staff and strategy. “We looked at every discipline, pulling them together like parts of a jigsaw,” she says.

By 2004, the strategy seemed to be delivering results; the firm broke even with a £3.5m turnover, which then increased to £4.7m the following year. “Everything was going extremely well and we put in an enormous amount of hard work to hit our targets,” explains Louisa.

But then disaster struck. On 13 February 2006, the firm’s £1.5m 10-colour press, responsible for 80% of its work, snapped in two when the floor beneath it subsided. “It was completely written-off”, she remarks. “The cylinder went and suddenly we were out of action for nine months with no presses on site.”

Turnaround

“It was then that I was really thankful that we had developed the change management programme,” she says. “As part of it, we had put together a disaster recovery plan.” The team had identified strategic partners that the firm could work with if support was ever needed. Thankfully, this planning was also part of the ISO 9001 work that it had been doing. The biggest challenge was, of course, how to remain operational without any presses. “We leant on our staff, made sure we had five suppliers of print and acutely managed our time scales and logistics,” says Louisa. “Because we had set up such a detailed change management programme, we didn’t lose a single client.”

The firm turned calamity into an opportunity. In the nine months the site was without main press, all employees were given a minimum of 72 hours training and 32 staff gained NVQ qualifications. It continued to work towards ISO 9001 and identified opportunities in Europe through Knowledge Transfer Partnerships with Greenwich University.

After getting the all clear from its insurers, Richard Edward completed a £3.6m investment programme, fitting a brand new 10-colour Manroland 700 long perfector and five-colour Manroland with IR drying. “When we re-launched in November, it was like a new beginning and it was a fantastic feeling,” recalls Louisa. “The business was doing well and we were on target to turn over £6m. And then dad died.”

The sudden and tragic loss of her father, then chairman at Richard Edward, came while Louisa was heavily pregnant and signed off on maternity leave.
“The news came as a great shock to everyone,” she remembers. “He was due to walk 500 miles across Pyrenees a month later, raising £25,000 for charity.

Preserving the legacy

Great admiration for her father helped Louisa come to grips with the loss, while strong succession planning provided some support for the firm during such difficult times. “My father embodied Richard Edward. The company was his baby. It was a case of running the business and making it his legacy so we had to keep going,” she says. In September last year, the firm recorded a £6m turnover, with a new profit of 2.7%.

The firm gained ISO 9001 last year after three years of detailed preparation. It has also worked hard on its environmental credentials, achieving Green Mark Level 2, and was recently awarded Investors in People accreditation.

Setting up the card division has proved a canny move, with card work now responsible for 55% of total business. The firm has identified the promotions and games sector in the card market as two areas it wants to develop. “We repositioned ourselves to promote each of our business units separately,” says Louisa. The firm has also expanded its team to include a project co-ordinator, operations manager and business development manager.

Like most printers, Richard Edward expects 2008 to be tough, but, as you might expect, it has devised a detailed plan to help deal with potential hurdles.
“External circumstances haven’t hit us like a ton of bricks,” says Louisa. “We have early warning flags that mean we can manage and adapt quickly to a changing economic climate.”

During that nine-month period, before the new kit was installed, the company’s perspective changed completely. The business moved away from reliance on equipment and realised the importance of capabilities and competence. “We have human capital I think of what our staff have been through and yet I can count turnover on one hand,” says Louisa. “Our staff are the best in the industry.”

Progressive thinking and passion continue to take Richard Edward forward. The firm is now using these resources to focus on more design and marketing based work in a bid to forge deeper relationships with clients. “I want print to be valued again, not just bought as a commodity,” Louisa explains. “I want buyers to understand what is involved in print, and how hard a good printer has to work to stay on top.”

Turning a disaster into an opportunity by investing in presses and its people – Print Week

When the £1.5m MAN Roland 10-colour press that is responsible for 80% of a firm’s output sinks below ground, many printers would have called it a day and considered an exit.

That’s exactly what happened in February, when shifting ground beneath Thamesmead printer Richard Edward’s factory caused the floor to move, snapping the press in two.

Yet David Moger, joint owner and chairman of the family owned firm, is not one to accept defeat. “We’ve put our balls on the line for 30 years… We either do that or we die. If you don’t believe in what you’re doing, then don’t do it,” he says.
“My brother and I and the managing director and marketing director have still all got our houses on the line, as collateral, for the business,” he adds.

Recovery planning

After disaster struck, the firm called the services of four other printers to help out with its volume of work. Because Richard Edward had already produced a disaster recovery plan towards accreditation for ISO 9001, it became the Mogers’ bible to ensuring continuous production.
Marketing director Louisa Moger said: “We made sure our customers didn’t experience any discontinuity.”

Nevertheless, the firm faced five weeks of rigorous testing to see whether it was financially covered. But relief came from insurers Fusion Insurance on day one of Ipex, in April.

David Moger says: “I got a call from the insurer, and he asked me where I was. I said I was on my way to Ipex and he said: “That’s opportune, because you can now go and buy a new 10-colour.”

“I called [MAN Roland sheetfed sales director] Gary Doman and told him to get a room as I needed to talk to him, quick.”

The upshot was a £3.6m deal to buy a brand new MAN Roland 700 10-colour perfector and five-colour plus coater signed half and hour before the Birmingham show opened.

“What happened to the floor wasn’t the catalyst for the new investment,” Doman is eager to point out. “Dave and I had already been in lots of discussions with Louisa about investment. It was always going to happen.”

David explains “We’d already agreed the sale on the five- colour. It was only when it came to finalisation of that sale that we had the problem with subsidence. We then had to put that on the back burner until we knew that the insurance company would cover us in full.”

The turbulent story of 2006, though, is only the latest chapter in the company’s 30-year history. The firm was founded in 1976 when John Moger purchased a litho press for £200 and installed it in the garage, persuading his brother David Moger to run the press, (the firm is named after their respective middle names, Edward and Richard). John is, apparently, still waiting for David to repay his £100 stake in that machine.

When neighbours asked what the noise was, David Moger says he would tell them it was the lawnmower, Amid growing curiosity from suspicious neighbours, though, the company moved into a small facility in Deptford, before moving into its current site in Thamesmead in 1990.

Faced with growing competition and a declining print market, in 1996 the firm diversified from general commercial work to start producing games cards and playing cards, which now make up 50% of its business output. Its growing portfolio of well-known games includes Monopoly and Top Trumps.

Richard Edward is branching out and exporting to Eastern Europe. It now produces playing cards for the Romanian and Russian markets through a subcontracted Italian printer.
“We’re intercontinental,” David Moger laughs.

Lean times

After reaching a critical loss-making situation in 2003, the firm called the London Manufacturing Advisory Service (LMAS) to help implement “lean” manufacturing. Its lead-time for delivery has improved 86%, with an eventual turnover increase of 24%. It looks set to enjoy a £5m turnover for 2006, with a view to increasing to £6m over the coming year.

Further investment is now being planned. “We are looking to reinvest in the finishing side of playing cards. As a manufacturer, you can never stop investing,” says David.

Louisa Moger adds: “Investment is not always about the plant. It’s about processes, people and current technology.” Richard Edward has increased its staff from 47 to 56 in the past two years.

She says the company works hard to train its staff, and has begun working with universities. “We are always developing our business and proactively seeking to develop and grow,” Louisa states.