robert finnie

personality in print

Personality in Print is a way of getting to know other members of the Prokom community.

Rob Finnie

robert finnie

commercial director

Company Background

We are the evolution of the Printing.com formula. We started as a commercial printer back in 2000. We launched a franchise model (printing.com) and grew quickly. We floated and are listed on the Stock Exchange as Grafenia PLC. In 2014 we saw our clients needs change. The world had changed and now printing was only part of the marketing mix. Our clients wanted Websites. They wanted SEO. They wanted Signage. They wanted to exhibit. What did this mean for our printing business? Well, we saw across our network that if we were not able to service our client’s new digital needs, then we lost the ‘creative relationship’ and all the print work that went with it. So we adapted. We needed to survive. We changed to meet clients new priorities. We launched Nettl. Now we offer all of the services our clients need in our studios and in our partner business. We grew again. Now, by talking to our clients about websites and SEO,  we generate more opportunities to talk to our clients about print. We now sell more print to more clients than we ever did before.

Where are you located?
Our head office is in Manchester, this is where ‘the magic happens’, and by ‘magic’ I mean this is where we house our Litho and Digital manufacturing hub, our Geek squad and our corporate team. We own and operate web studios, Business stores and superstores in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Exeter, and Dublin. We have partner studios in over 200 locations around the world.

How many people work in the business?
We have 220 people employed in our company-owned studios and factories in England.

What does your company do? 
We are a network of Web, Print, and Design studios. We help small and medium businesses promote themselves both online and offline.

What’s your company USP?
We have many, but I think the main point is that we are local. Our studios and partners are embedded in the local community. Our clients tell us they like having a local expert who can help them with Web, Print, SEO, and marketing.

For print, our systems remove the need for writing quotes, chasing payments, and doing the boring admin. This allows us to offer a higher quality product, for a more competitive price. With regards to our web projects, we share our central solutions with all our studios, which means our partners are able to deliver more within the clients budget. Nettl minimises the time it takes studios and partners to ‘figure out’ the complicated thing, and so our designers can spend more time focussing on the creative aspects.

What equipment do you run?
We have a centralized production hub, housing all of the machines we use to service our network. In addition, many of our partner studios run ‘in-house kit’ to complement the things we do centrally and to help them service the local on-demand market we can’t reach within the timeframes of ‘same day’. The Konica Minolta Bizhub Pro C6501 and Konica Minolta Bizhub Press C1100 are amongst the equipment we run.

What’s been your proudest achievement?
Proudest moment was reaching 100 partner studios in the UK. It was a target milestone in our growth strategy. Since then we’ve been building the acquisition process, in a scalable way, that can be executed by our international teams, no matter their level of competency, with minimum amounts of central support. We are now over 200 studios worldwide and we’re currently growing at the rate of 2 or 3 new studios a week.

What is going to be your biggest challenge in the future?
To continue evolving. Your clients are evolving. Their needs are evolving. We all need our businesses to be in a state of constant, progressive evolution.

What really annoys you in business?
A reluctance to embrace change. Change is always coming. Predict it. Be ready for it. Nothing good stays the same for long.

Who in the world would you most like to spend a day with?
Tricky one. Lots of contenders. I’ll go for Larry Page. Google is the best thing ever.

If you weren’t in print what would you be doing now?
I’d be working in a technology business. Maybe aiming for a big employer like Google, Facebook, or I’d be starting to build something new that provided digital services.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
There are 3 things that a wise man once said to me:
1. Validate demand before you invest in the execution.
2. Don’t over plan, things change quickly, be ready to pivot.
3. Employ people who are better than yourself.

What’s your favorite pastime outside of work?
Cars, sports, and socializing, when I have the time.

What is the most valuable thing your Prokom membership could do for you and your business?
Introduce me to like-minded people to share ideas and successes.

Have you got a message for other Prokom members?
The print market is converging. Printers sell websites, Web designers sell signs, Sign makers sell SEO. Diversify your business to leverage more from your goodwill, and build new routes to client acquisition. It’s the future.