Global Graphics Software

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Global Graphics Software's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Global Graphics Software is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett, MP
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles, MP

CEO Gary Fry
Product decoration is a growing
market for inkjet printing
Founded in 1996, Global Graphics provide software, electronics
and fonts for digital printing. Based in Cambridge, its
continuous investment in research and development has, in
recent years, laid the groundwork for a substantial upturn in
their success. They have been able to react to the changes facing
the printing industry and have more than doubled turnover in
the last four years as a result. CEO Gary Fry discusses how they
made the changes to return to the forefront of their sector.
When something isn’t working, change direction. It sounds simple, but it can be a
hard lesson to learn. Ten years ago, we were caught in the doldrums, but we still
had a loyal customer base, a group of talented, highly qualified employees, and
some of the best software products in the world.
Our customers, manufacturers of printing presses and workflow software, were
responsible for printing most of the world’s newspapers, and about 50 per
cent of the global market for commercial print. Their revenues were shrinking:
printed publications were experiencing a steep decline in advertising spend as the
landscape shifted towards the online world. The result was the classic maelstrom in
which our customers sold fewer new presses: downturn; oversupply; consolidation.
The printing industry itself was on the cusp of change, moving steadily from
analogue to digital production. Our future growth was to have its origins in this
disruption. Our printing software is like the Intel inside a press. The pages of
Parliamentary Review
can’t be printed without first converting the text and images
into a language that a printing press can understand. That process, together with
other enhancements like managing colour, is at the heart of what we do.
»CEO: Gary Fry
»Founded in 1996
»Based in Cambridge
»Services: Software, electronics
and fonts for digital printing
»No. of employees: 112 as of
December 31, 2017
»Global Graphics appeared
in the 2018 London Stock
Exchange Group’s 1,000
companies to inspire Britain
»Customers include HP, Kodak,
Canon, Agfa, Siemens and
Global Graphics
Highlighting best practice
Know your route to market
At first, we tried to offset the
decline in revenues with a range of
software that could be used to create
productivity apps for consumers.
At an engineering level there was
synergy with the printing software
we supplied to original equipment
manufacturers. What we developed
was so powerful it could be used
for almost any desktop and mobile
application, and therein lay the
problem. We found ourselves over
extended, trying to develop too many
different products for the human
resources available. The routes to
market were so very different from
our core business that we struggled.
Critical R&D
We’ve consistently spent about 30 per
cent of our revenues on R&D. This was
during the period when R&D tax credits
were critical to the success of a small
and medium-sized business like ours.
They averaged out at approximately
300,000 annum and allowed us
to continue our investment in the
innovation that prepared the ground
for the next stage in our strategy.
It had become clear that we had to
change direction. We sold our digital
document technology to a partner and
looked at how our core strengths and
sales channels would lend themselves
to new and emerging markets. We
listened intently to our customer base
and took soundings more widely in the
print market.
Stay close to the market
Through our longstanding partner
HP Indigo, we had an impressive
track record in digital printing and
were ahead of the market in many
of our technology solutions. Digital
printing had already given rise to new
products such as personalised photo
books, a niche in which we have an
approximate 80 per cent share. The
ability to produce personalised items
had begun to change the landscape
for commercial print. It was spreading
to other sectors too, notably into
packaging and labels.
Something else was afoot: a potentially
disruptive digital technology called
inkjet. Inkjet is a process whereby
a liquid is jetted onto a variety of
substrates through a series of nozzles
arranged in a printhead. We soon
found that our software could solve
problems that were affecting most
press manufacturers and preventing
them from shipping their products:
how to achieve optimum quality when
your press needs to run at ultra-high-
speed. Today, the fastest presses can
The packaging and
labelling markets
continue to see rapid
uptake of inkjet printing
Ceramic tile production
is the largest user of
inkjet equipment in the
spent about
30 percent of
our revenues
on R&D
print an area the size of the City of
London in a little over three days and
speeds are increasing.
New markets, new products
Inkjet printing is not just about ink,
nor about paper. It has given rise to
new categories of printing: 3D, textiles,
ceramics, interior décor, wall coverings
and floorings, packaging and labelling.
We had uncovered a significant market
opportunity whereby we did not need
to compete on price because we could
offer a unique solution.
New prospects brought their problems
to us to solve. Our technology
is enabling new products to be
developed that couldn’t be produced
before. It was a source of great pride
when, in 2018, we received a Printing
Industries of America InterTech award,
a major printing industry award, for
Strategic products and
strategic acquisitions
Having found the sector, we focused
on developing more components to
sell into this market. We looked at our
existing product portfolio, where we
had been very disciplined in prioritising
strategic products, and started to
consider acquisitions. This too requires
discipline. We had to understand
how an acquisition would deliver the
best value, complement our route to
market or change our culture.
Printer manufacturers need fonts for
their devices. Our first acquisition was
the URW font foundry in Hamburg,
Germany. Just over a year later,
at the end of 2016, we acquired
Meteor Inkjet, a developer of driver
electronics and software for inkjet
printheads. Together we can offer
a broader solution to inkjet press
manufacturers, which positions us as
an importantpartner to the industry’s
leading players.
Business transformation
At the heart of this success is our
talented pool of highly skilled
employees without whom this
transformation would not have been
possible. The location of our main office
in Cambridge is also to our advantage:
clustered around Cambridge are many
companies working on all aspects of
inkjet technology. Many new areas of
research are being undertaken, not
least by the University of Cambridge
Institute for Manufacturing.
Our turning point came when we
decided to focus on one strategic
market. Our annual revenues rose to
20.5 million in the financial year 2017
compared to 7.9 million in 2013.
There have been many lessons learnt
along the way, not least that fear of
failure should not prevent us from
trying different approaches. There
were some difficult times but in the
end we all pulled together and that
makes me immensely proud of the
entire team who were involved.
3D printing uses inkjet
Fear of failure
should not
prevent us
from trying

This article was sponsored by Global Graphics Software. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister