King's Lynn print shop faces a bright future
Every cloud has a silver lining - even the one that loomed during the pandemic, according to the owner of one Lynn town centre business.
Jenny Richards, director of Prontaprint, suffered like most businesses during the various lockdowns but she has been able to take some positives from the experience.
One massive bonus was managing to secure funding to help the business come out of the pandemic in a stronger position and able to look to the future with optimism.
The Prontaprint brand has been around for 50 years and Jenny took over the Lynn franchise in St James Street 15 years ago.
It was flourishing and planned to move into larger premises across the road in March 2020. The first lockdown changed everything.
“The move had to be postponed until the autumn and we had to look at a totally different way of doing things,” she said.
The slowdown in business gave Jenny a chance to investigate opportunities for grant aid and financial help and she made a successful application via the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership which secured funding for her to buy new equipment for the business and put a new sign-written van on the road.
The LEP is a support organisation which administers and helps to grant aid for businesses.
“They met 75 per cent of the outlay and we were able to make investment that we certainly wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise,” she said.
“It’s fair to say that without Covid happening I just wouldn’t have had the time to look into funding opportunities.”
While she furloughed her two employees, Jenny continued to go into work herself.
“I needed to do that for my own mental health,” she said “and it meant I had to look at different ways of doing things and doing my bit to help others who were struggling.”
That included generously printing documents for people who were home schooling but had no access to a printer and printing orders of service for funerals without charge, printing covid signage, name badges for hospital staff and supplying acetates for face masks.
“I want to try to make a difference and I was happy to be able to do it,” said Jenny.
She is now in her new premises at 24 St James Street – she moved in September - with more space, a more efficient layout, new equipment and business is looking up.
This includes a contract to supply 800,000 leaflets in a week for one customer and, since restrictions were eased, restaurants, hotels and hospitality venues want menus printing.
“One thing we have all missed are events. Bring them back and everyone will be happy.” she said.
As well as the routine photo-copying and printing work, Prontaprint can now carry out die-cutting, laminating and foiling and supplying anti-microbial Covid-safe laminate products for customers.
“I think the difference now is that businesses are working together and having more conversations than ever before.
“I understand how others have had to stand up to the challenge far more than us.”