Suffolk-based Spingold Print & Design has invested in a Duplo PFI DI-300 rotary die-cutter to increase production of playing and other cards, part funded by a grant from the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership’s Business Resilience and Recovery Scheme.

The all-digital print house was established in the 1990s and currently employs seven people, having taken on three who had lost jobs at other printers due to the pandemic. It serves two distinct markets, garden centres and outdoor living stores, and personalised / short-run playing and game cards, which it sells online. While the former market is seasonal and has been affected to some extent by the pandemic, the latter has been booming.

‘The playing cards are now 80 to 90% of our business; a year ago it was 25 – 30% and that’s not just because of a drop in the gardens centres work,’ said managing director Ed Oakes. He added, ‘People are spending more time at home, and we’ve picked up two or three customers who sell via Amazon.’

The cards produced at Spingold range from standard playing cards, which are made with a high quality plasticised finish (though not sold into the casino market), to educational, ‘top trumps’ and tarot cards. Print runs can be anything from one set to a few thousand. Printing of the cards is done on a Ricoh Pro C7100 or either of two Xerox Versant 180 sheet-fed toner presses, one of which was added during the lockdown period. ‘We bought the new die-cutter for this,’ said Mr Oakes, adding, ‘We had the first Duplo rotary die-cutter in the UK, about four years ago, and been very pleased with it but needed to up the work rate. As the flexible dies go with the make of machine it made sense to get another Duplo.’

The involvement with the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership came about as result of the new hires Spingold made from other local print businesses that had made staff redundant. ‘Two of the employees we added in September/October had worked at a company which had applied for it, so I looked into it as a way to future-proof the business,’ explained Mr Oakes. The fund provided a grant of 40% of the £52,000 purchase price of the die-cutter, £20,800, leaving Spingold to pay the balance.

‘We have steered away from short-term choices in order to concentrate on long-term business-supporting moves, to make sure that existing staff are kept and that new staff aren’t just a short-term thing,’ said Mr Oakes.