Supply Chain North East helps Design Xpress prepare for the future.
For 25 years, Design Xpress has offered a wide range of print solutions, from small format digital leaflets through to large format posters, banners, signs and display. They provide a print service throughout the UK, in a wide range of sectors, including retail, hospitality, leisure, pharmaceutical, financial and construction. The company also supplies to Central and Local Government and the NHS.
Central to the ongoing success of Design Xpress is a commitment to people, customers, and innovation and this has included investment in staff welfare and in training, delivering high value solutions for customers and significant capital expenditure in cutting edge printing technology.
Juliette Brown, managing director reached out to Supply Chain North East and met with business advisor, John Heslop. They discussed how best to plan for the long term business continuity. Following a wide-ranging conversation, an arrangement was agreed whereby John would provide advice and guidance to the two company directors - aligned to the goal of future planning and company sustainability.
Following a series of five progressive, structured and participative round-table discussions, John led the group in the development of a high-level, diagrammatic positioning of the company – depicting the ‘Current State’ and, crucially, the ‘Future State’. Strategic themes included Leadership, Resources, Product categories, Sales channels, Customer Segments and Pricing. The summary also clearly highlighted the ‘gap’ from current to future states.
This headline plan could then be used by the company as a reference datum with which to then develop the tactics, plans and forward activities to move closer to their longer term goals and objectives. Juliette explains more:
“At the start of 2020, Design X-Press was riding high – it had been nominated for two prestigious regional business awards and had plans to increase its £1.2m annual turnover and increase its workforce.
“Initially things weren’t bad, as just before the pandemic hit, we had secured a large order which meant for the first six months we held our own. At the same time, we had invested in the new machinery which was supported by the County Durham Growth Fund and things were looking good.
“However, as the pandemic really took hold, and the hospitality, retail and leisure sectors shut down – our core areas of business – our work pretty much stopped.
“Any plans we had to grow were quickly put on hold and instead our focus was what we could do to ride through the crisis.”
“The main challenge during the past 16 months has been the affect that lockdowns have had on turnover. Much of what we produce is for meetings and events or supplied into the hospitality, leisure and retail sectors.
“We have had to remain open throughout the pandemic as we also supply Medical and Government accounts including NHS, Pfizer and Public Health England which has bought about some turnover. The second and third lockdowns had much more of a negative impact and recovery is steady but slow.
“We completed our business canvas and were able to explore what our requirements were for external help. We recently participated in a business support programme with Supply Chain North East and were awarded some funding delivered by the North East Growth Hub, and have completed stage one of Scale Up. We have used this funding to work with Far North. Far North have assisted us is selecting a web developer, reviewing our new website, team profiling and developing staff engagement. They have worked with us on a social media strategy to positively impact turnover focusing on local clients.
“They have helped restore confidence and reassurance post covid. We have vastly improved our Social media strategy and learned more about linked in and how it can be used to benefit the business, improve lead generation and widen our network. We have gained more confidence in use of Social Media.
“We have found John Heslop from RTC also to be very supportive and helpful and he has kept us up to date with any possible help that’s out there. We have been pleasantly surprised by the amount of help that was available for us and by the support that has come along side that, that seems to be ongoing. We feel that Supply Chain North East has helped our Senior Management Team upskill where resources have been limited.
"We would recommend that all businesses explore what Supply Chain North East can offer them which can only benefit their businesses and develop their knowledge. In business we never stop learning and Supply Chain North East offer a service and support channel that can prove invaluable, particularly as businesses recover post Covid."