Thinking Innovatively Helps Prime Litho to Provide a Profitable Personal Service

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A Nottingham based printing business is achieving record sales as a result of a special ‘ANUBIS’ innovation award they received from the East Midlands Development Agency (emda).

A Nottingham based printing business is achieving record sales as a result of a special ‘ANUBIS’ innovation award they received from the East Midlands Development Agency (emda).

Based in Radford, Prime Litho Solutions specialises in digital and litho printing. In the past, they have developed personalised brochures and mailers for commercial customers, which have always been very popular. However, earlier this year, the company’s managing director Jonathan Tolley was introduced to a new technology called ‘DirectSmile’ which is a method of realistically personalising photographs to incorporate the recipient’s name, which makes it look as though a photo shoot has been held just for them.

“It seemed to me that there was a big market for personalised calendars for individuals wanting to buy them as presents for birthdays, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and other occasions,” said Jonathan. “The fact that it is digitally printed means that we can include lots of personalised details such as the name of the recipient, birthdays of loved ones and friends, anniversaries and other information.”

Jonathan applied for the ANUBIS competition, which was offering companies the opportunity to win awards of £10,000 each, to spend on innovative uses of new technology.

Aimed at companies with between 5 and 250 employees, the ‘ANUBIS’ competition was run by technology specialists - EMNET, on behalf of emda. The aim of the competition was to encourage companies to think about how new technology could benefit their businesses and to submit their proposals to ANUBIS for consideration.

Prime Litho was one of the 10 ANUBIS winners from the East Midlands and with the award, they set about developing their idea.

The system works by linking to a back end database which records client information and special dates for returning visitors. A payment system is also included (via PayPal) and customers can enter all of their details on line and view on screen what the finished calendar will look like.

The system will then send the file directly to the printing press to print the job without the need for any human intervention. Once printed, a calendar can be cut and finished within 10 minutes and a label can then be automatically printed along with the order[jt1] and labelled, ready for dispatch.

The website was launched in September under the domain and it has proven to be so popular that sales since the launch have already exceeded £250,000. In fact, sales of the calendar are now accounting for almost double the amount of traditional litho printed items at the company.

Prime Litho is also using an agent to help sell the calendar directly to consumers and with his assistance, they have managed to obtain coverage on TV programmes such as This Morning and Richard and Judy as well as magazines including Hello, Marie Claire and Sunday supplements.

Jonathan added: “The calendar sales are going so well that we have had to invest in new finishing equipment that will enable us to complete 600 calendars an hour rather than 600 a day.

“We are also looking at purchasing a second press to enable us to manage the anticipated demand for this and other similar products in the future.

“The printing industry is notoriously cut throat, with profit margins typically around 2.5% but with this product we are opening a new and more profitable dimension in printing technology which will enable us to achieve margins of up to 75%! We see personalisation, with state of the art graphics, as being the biggest growth area in printing. Having this product in place will enable us to carve a niche market in personalised gifts and generate in-roads into the major retailers.”

Tim Miller from technology specialist – EMNET, which is managing the ANUBIS project, believes that the success of companies such as Prime Litho demonstrates just how beneficial it is for companies to think innovatively about how they can use new technology.

“The ANUBIS project has encouraged companies to think innovatively and proactively about how they can use technology to benefit their businesses.

Even though the grants were only awarded in the Summer, many companies such as Prime Litho, are already beginning to see tremendous results in terms of sales and cost savings within their own businesses.”

Prime Litho is also in discussions with a number of major high street retailers and is confident that a number will be offering the calendar in the near future.

Jonathan believes that without the ANUBIS award it is questionable whether they would have been able to launch the new personalised calendar product.

“The ANUBIS award was a great help because it meant that we had to carefully plan all of the details of the project and we were also able to allocate people specifically onto this without the need for them to become sidetracked into the other day to day routines of the business. Without the money and support from ANUBIS it would have been much more difficult for us to get this product off the ground.”

For more details about ANUBIS visit

For information about Prime Litho’s personalised calendar service visit

For information about Prime Litho Printing Services personalised marketing service visit


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