The Print Company

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by The Print Company'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 The Print Company 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
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Founder Vicki Swinden
Everyone we have employed
was previously unemployed
or joined us as apprentices
Originally established with £2,500 and a borrowed
printing machine, The Print Company have expanded
considerably and now work with immediately
recognisable brands and places such as Pepsi, Kellogg’s and
the Houses of Parliament. They are striving to align themselves
with the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals and since the
beginning, they have been committed to providing unemployed
people with opportunities and training. Every staff member was
previously unemployed or joined the company as an apprentice.
Founder Vicki Swinden tells
The Parliamentary Review
their commitment to supporting employment in their local area
and the difficulty female-founded businesses can face when
trying to secure finance.
I started the company in 2010 with a view to employ people who would otherwise
be out of work. We supply printed textiles for companies to use for promotional
purposes, including backdrops, bunting and table covers. Everyone we have employed
was previously unemployed or, more recently, joined the company as apprentices.
We have trained all of our staff, as the majority did not have experience in print
and textiles. This is supported by ongoing internal training, conducted by ourselves
and apprentice training providers. My family had been successful in our local area,
and I wanted to give something back. Although Warrington is supposed to be an
area of high employment, supported by the M62 corridor, the closer you get to the
town centre, the lower the employment rate becomes. A lot of local employment
»Founder: Vicki Swinden
»Established in 2010
»Based in Warrington
»Services: Textile printing
»No. of employees: 15
The Print Company
Highlighting best practice
is provided by huge organisations,
such as Amazon and Ikea, and many
workers would rather work for a
smaller company, where they are
personally valued, rather than simply
cogs in a vast machine. I believed
that if we set up in the local area, we
would find willing workers: we were
proved right.
A commitment to developing
our employees
We go beyond normal ideas of
employer best practice, as we provide
not just employment but also training
and upskilling. There is a huge talent
hole beyond the apprenticeship
stage, and many employees simply
have to wait for positions to become
available as workers retire. We operate
differently. We upskill our employees
and move them into positions where
they can then continue to rise up the
ladder. Since our inception, we have
grown from three staff to 15, and we
have achieved our growth organically.
Our staff are split equally between
sales, administration, and production
and printing. Initially, it was difficult
to find apprentices for the production
side, as we could only find individuals
to fill administrative or accountancy
roles. To remedy this, one of our
production managers completed
a paper printing course – a slightly
inconvenient necessity, as textile
courses did not yet exist. While waiting
for this expertise to be acquired,
we diverted employees to customer
service. As we had quite a young team,
they required a lot of direction and
support, and, as we do not work from
scripts, we had to provide in-depth
training. We train each employee for a
variety of roles before they specialise;
as roles change, people are always
learning new skills. Individuals progress
through our training programme
and then study leadership and
This career progression is common
within the company. When we began,
we didn’t have these different ranks,
but, as we have grown, we have
expanded our structure and taken
our employees with us. Those who
are willing and able to achieve are
supported and developed. We have
established clear career progression
within our company and have focused
on providing transferable skills for our
We have secured a great customer
base, which we are always looking to
expand. We have worked with Mars,
Pepsi, Kellogg’s and the Houses of
Parliament, and we also deal with a
variety of national companies. One
of our longest relationships is with a
training company who help to train
One of our production
managers completed a
paper printing course
to support production
We upskill our
and move
them into
where they
can then
continue to
rise up the
our employees in administration.
Warrington also has a local
apprenticeship programme, through
which we found a digital print trainer.
A systematic approach
When we established the company,
we focused on remaining systematic.
I founded the company with my wife
and business partner, and our aim
was to improve the industry, utterly
changing the level of service available.
We were disruptive, as we began
working in a sector in which the
machinery was still being developed.
We also stand out because of our
customer service promise, and we
have never taken an order we couldn’t
deliver. We were so committed to this
systematic approach that its success
was immediately evident: we managed
to gain our ISO accreditation within
four days.
We run our quality control systems in
the manner of ISO 9001:2015, which
is quite unusual for a small company,
and are continually self-auditing. This
covers our training and our customer
service and means that everything
can be tracked and systemised. Our
commitment to sustainability means
that we have common policies about
the removal of rubbish – something
that small companies seem to have
neglected. This commitment to
structure has allowed us to deal with
a raft of clients who would not work
with you if you didn’t have these
quality controls in place. This also
helps to support our training, as we
understand our company and its
processes on a granular level.
We have never purchased a software
system and instead have developed our
own. This has allowed us to be very
nimble and has supported our growth.
We started the business with £2,500
and a borrowed printing machine,
and we now service clients across
Securing finance to fuel
One of the major issues we have faced
is the difficulty of securing finance.
Female-founded businesses can often
find it much harder to raise finance
and often hit a glass ceiling. This is
particularly true for women in printing,
a mainly male-dominated industry.
Banks are often reluctant to lend to
printers, so we had to secure all of our
own finance. If we had been a tech
business, I believe we would have been
able to grow far more quickly.
As we move into the future, we are
grappling with the uncertainty that
is currently affecting the market.
Uncertainty can be particularly
damaging for sectors like ours, as we
deal with sales and marketing budgets,
which are often the first to be slashed
during a downturn. We have focused
on becoming very robust to deal with
any potential disruptions. We are
targeting international expansion,
and Europe is our primary focus. We
have also established a side business,
providing printed textiles to fashion
and interior designers. This is starting
to grow, and we are focusing on
remaining innovative and searching for
new markets, always looking for the
sharpest way to grow and expand.
We were so
committed to
this systematic
approach that
its success was
evident: we
gained our
within four
We have never taken an
order we couldn’t deliver

This article was sponsored by The Print Company. 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 Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster