Analysis of PressOn’s new venture into vehicle wrapping
14 February 2024
After the launch of its new vehicle wrapping and graphics business, LFR spoke with PressOn about the venture, its long-term plans for the operation and how this will support its wider growth strategy.
Many people see the New Year as the time for a fresh start. Whether this is hanging up your wine glasses for Dry January, heading back to the gym after a chocolate-filled festive season or even putting your house up for sale, the New Year brings with it all manner of new beginnings.
This New Year, diversified print company PressOn took things a step further by announcing a brand-new business venture in the form of PressOn Automotive. Specialising in vehicle wraps and graphics, PressOn Automotive will seek to build on PressOn’s already-expansive offering, allowing current customers and potential clients to access new services.
PressOn Automotive launches in the wake of PressOn’s acquisition of wrapping business VSM, combining PressOn’s firepower with VSM’s deep knowledge and experience of the vehicle wrapping market. The new business is operating out of two specialist units in Whitstable, with each unit having been built to the highest spec to handle all manner of wrapping and graphics work.
But the key question here is “why now?” What made PressOn take the plunge and dive, or drive if you rather, into this market? LFR recently caught up with the team at PressOn to find out more about the new venture.
Diversification is the key to survival
The operation has been born out of talks between PressOn Managing Director Andy Wilson and James Tilley, Owner of VSM, which, also based in Whitstable, closed in December 2023 after being acquired by PressOn. Tilley is heading up the new venture, which is 100% owned by PressOn, with support from three staff from the former VSM business and two from PressOn.
“I’ve been looking for ways to grow the business for some time, but as PressOn is already quite diverse in what it does, it has been difficult to work out where to go next,” Andy said. “James came to talk to me about 18 months ago, then I had my eyes opened at FESPA WrapFest where I realised there’s a whole other industry converging with ours – high-end car detailing that includes protection and colour changing wraps. Then buildings came up near where VSM was, so we talked again and decided to set-up this new venture.
“It has been in the works for a few months. We aren’t reinventing the wheel, but we are looking to carry on what we have learnt in other areas and the high standards we have set to achieve a quality client list in the automotive world.“Through PressOn, we already work with the likes of Harrods and Harvey Nicholls, and we hope to partner with these sorts of brands more with PressOn Automotive. If you want to do something remarkable for your business, then we can do it.
“We have always been diverse in what we offer, and this has been a great contribution to our survival. This latest diversification gives us the opportunity to sustain that level of versatility moving forward.”
Focused approach for PressOn
While the business is still in its infancy, Andy said the goal is very much clear for the PressOn team: prove that high quality vehicle wrapping and graphics can be done commercially. The two new units are now complete and producing work, with both facilities designed to the highest standard, boasting features such as climate control and being shadow free to help ensure quality in all jobs.
Charlotte Webb, Marketing Manager at PressOn Automotive and one of the driving forces behind the launch of the new business, takes up the story. She said PressOn carried out in-depth market research before pushing ahead with the new venture, identifying several key focus areas along the way.
“We are wanting to push the boundaries of the industry,” Charlotte said. “We want to provide bold long-lasting vinyl. We have chosen our suppliers meticulously to make sure our customers get years of reliability and enjoyment from the finished product. “Our suppliers are so local they’ve already been down to the units to see us. We want to give people the highest possible quality vinyl that is being wrapped professionally by an experienced team. Our installers have so much experience.”
In terms of equipment required to produce this sort of work, Charlotte said that the existing capabilities of PressOn and its established portfolio of machinery means all work will be done in house.
That said, PressOn Automotive has been boosted with the addition of a new machine in the form of an HP Latex 630W, supplied direct by HP. This will be used to print many of the graphics and wraps for PressOn Automotive customers. The printing of graphics will take place at its existing facility down the road in Chatham, while the application process will be carried out at the new Whitstable units.
“PressOn has a long relationship with HP, and they have been kind enough to supply us with the new machine,” Charlotte said. “HP will very much be our print partner for the new business.”
Michael Lewis, Large-Format Production Channel Manager at HP, also spoke highly of the venture and HP’s ongoing partnership with PressOn. He highlighted how the two parties have already worked together in this market, picking out one project in particular.
Nick Hollis, an Ultra Endurance Athlete and Expedition Leader, recently completed a solo Atlantic row in a remarkable time of 50 days, 20 hours, and 49 minutes to raise climate change awareness. Prior to setting off, he reached out to PressOn to craft a sustainable wrap for his kayak Kraken.
“Remarkably, even after the gruelling 3,000-mile journey, the wrap remained pristine, reflecting the durability and effectiveness of HP Latex technology,” Michael said. “By leveraging the capabilities of the HP Latex 630W, PressOn Automotive is ready to deliver exceptional results, ensuring that every project meets the highest standards of performance and aesthetics.
“In alignment with HP's commitment to innovation and quality, the launch of PressOn Automotive underscores a shared vision for excellence in vehicle wrapping and graphics. We recognise the importance of consistency and reliability, and our partnership with PressOn reinforces these values.”
Keeping it sustainable
Another primary focus for PressOn Automotive will be to carry over PressOn’s approach to sustainability. This includes only working with suppliers and manufacturers that can deliver planet friendly solutions.
First, the partnership with HP and the use of its HP Latex 630W, which runs on environmentally friendly, water-based inks, will cover the production side of things. In terms of the materials PressOn Automotive will be using, Charlotte said the company has struck up a partnership with Metamark to ensure it offers a sustainable service to customers.
“Andy has very much always been keen on sustainability, and it was crucial for us to reflect this in the new business. Sustainability is key to us and to get that into PressOn Automotive is really important,” Charlotte said.
Andy added: “We are trying to do everything as sustainable as possible; not just so we can say we do it. I have been firm on the fact that it is ongoing, and we will need to change as things progress.”
There is also something of a community feel to PressOn Automotive. While some staff will come over from PressOn and the legacy VSM business, the goal is very much to expand the team with talented workers from the local area. With this largely homegrown team, PressOn Automotive aims to serve both a local and national customer base.
We are looking to create new jobs locally for people that train up to become installers with us,” Andy said. “We want to build up people in the local community, have young people join us and ultimately create new jobs.
“It is not our goal to become a business that serves everyone apart from local customers; we want to help those local to us and provide high quality work to clients close by.”
PressOn looking to race ahead
While the business is just a matter of weeks old, Andy is clear on the potential for the new PressOn Automotive arm to grow. Such is his positivity over the venture that he has his sights set on opening new units in other locations in the not-too-distant future.
“Potentially, if we can get it to work in one location, we can then look at expanding this to other locations,” Andy said. “If you look at the PressOn business as a whole, we have a great history with training staff – lots of our current staff have been college and school leavers – and we hope to apply that with the car side of things as the new business grows and grows.
“We are all really excited about it. PressOn has had a great bounce-back from Covid during a very challenging time for the industry. The aim now is to keep ourselves small and agile; rather than building on a successful formula, we want to expand that formula and look at something new.
“Now is very much the time for us to do it.”