Sturdy Print and Design Ltd

Lancashire-based Sturdy Print and Design is a leading UK manufacturer of specialist labels. The business was originally established as a commercial litho printer, working from a unit within a shopping centre, but diversified into label printing some years ago when it had become apparent to the family that stationery printing was in decline.

Co-owner and Finance Director Stewart Sturdy comments that “we were determined to remain in the print industry but realised that Stationery printing would not, on its own, provide the necessary profitability to support several family members.”

Simon Sturdy, Co-owner, initially suggested Flexographic Printing – in those early days, Sturdy created labels on various substrates for products as diverse as sandwich boxes, shampoo bottles and product containers too numerous to mention. Turnover grew as a result, and the company subsequently expanded into purpose built premises of 20,000 sq ft in 1993, so that by the time Stewart and Simon’s father retired in the 90’s, it had reached some £500,000 per annum.

The addition of a first Edale Label Press in 2004 led to a number of new opportunities, and turnover grew steadily to its current level of £3.0m or so, with a total of 35 employees. A number of significant purchases have been made in addition – label rewinders, inspection rewinders, imagesetters, some smaller presses – typically financed via external sources on medium-term contracts and always via their broker, Ilsley Finance.

Growth was such that in 2017 Sturdy Print took the decision to invest in a second and larger Edale Label press to complement their existing machine list. The equipment would see a three-fold increase in efficiency largely through the set-up and printing speeds of the later press, but the cost of £530,000 was clearly a significant investment. After extended discussion, a facility was agreed with Aldermore Bank via Ilsley Finance, and the equipment was delivered and installed over several days.

Aldermore on the details of the deal

Sean Thorn, Business Development Manager at Aldermore, worked with Steve Price at Ilsley Finance to ensure a smooth process. Sean comments “The purchase will see a significant increase in productivity for Sturdy Print and it’s important that the funder understands the equipment, how it fits in with the client’s business strategy, and what if any risks are inherent in such a major purchase decision. Aldermore’s asset management team undertake extensive work in understanding the asset to ensure that a commercially-acceptable rate is provided, one which reflects the importance and size of the transaction but equally protects Aldermore’s commercial position.”

“The transaction was eventually agreed at a competitive fixed rate over a 60 month period, with the automatically included option (not actually taken up) of a VAT deferral within the contract so that Sturdy could, if necessary, have mitigated the cash flow implications of a £100,000 VAT cost.”

Ilsley Finance approached two banks to discuss the transaction and obtained sanction from both, but in the end Aldermore’s straightforward contracts and their speed of service came out the winner. Steve comments, “I’ve been dealing with Aldermore for 4 years or so and in that time have discovered them to be knowledgeable, flexible, prompt and competitive. I like to think too that I’ve established a reputation with them for knowing what I’m doing – it’s important to me that Aldermore recognise my experience and this probably explains my high acceptance and conversion rates.”