Our History at Solopress
July 1999 - Solopress founded by Andy Smith and Aron Priest
Solopress was born when an informal collaboration between two print start-ups in Southend developed into a solid business partnership. Andy Smith had set up business with a multilith press, and when Aron Priest moved into the unit next door with his Solna 425 machine, the pair soon began to work together.
The early years were characterised by hard work, long hours and heroic levels of multitasking by Andy and Aron. The result was that Solopress soon outgrew its original footprint. As a close team grew up around Aron & Andy, and the portfolio of printing and finishing equipment expanded, Solopress moved into a new, much larger factory.
May 2003 - Solopress moves to new, larger premises
The next phase of our development was crucial: entering the digital realm. This advance was to take place on two fronts, in terms of both our print production and our sales platform. We acquired our first Xerox digital machines in 2005, and in the same year, became pioneers in the early internet print industry.
This progressive and committed move to become a web-based print company proved pivotal in establishing Solopress as an online brand.
2005 - Solopress enters the online print world and acquires digital print capabilities
The company experienced rapid growth in 2005/06 on the back of its forward-thinking strategies – experiencing 30% growth and expanding the workforce from 35 to 65 employees within the year.
It wasn’t all plain sailing however, with the demise of the Woolworths chain hitting the business hard. The episode taught us valuable business lessons that we were able to carry forward. The company rallied and expansion was renewed in the following years, with investments in customer service and print capabilities.
While digital print was becoming an important part of the Solopress operation, we never lost site of the value of high-quality lithographic printing. New machines and colleagues continued to fill whatever space was available, and in November 2011, Solopress welcomed its 100th employee.
November 2011 - Solopress employs its 100th colleague
Accounting and operational processes were all tightened up as the twenty-teens saw Solopress mature into its role as a genuine major player in the UK print industry. In 2014, we celebrated our 500,000th order, and then our 1000,000th order just 2 years later. During this period, we also saw our headcount push past 200. It’s a testament to the company’s rapid growth that Solopress won the ICAEW Large Business of the Year award in 2016, with Aron Priest scooping Business Person of the Year on the same night.
November 2014 - Solopress celebrates its 500,000th order
July 2015 - Solopress employs its 200th Employee
October 2016 - Solopress celebrates its 1,000,000th order
March 2017 - Solopress joins Onlineprinters Group
A new chapter in the Solopress story began in March 2017, when we became part of the Onlineprinters group. Originally established in 1984, Onlineprinters has 3 production sites that represent a combined shop floor of 39,300 square metres, serving more than 1,000,000 customers across 30 European countries.
The coming together of Solopress and Onlineprinters has been a good match, with the organisations sharing a common vision and ambition for Solopress in the UK marketplace, as well as views on sustainability and the environment. Onlineprinters brings a great deal in terms of experience and investment as well as the capacity to expand the Solopress product offering to include a host of exciting new items.
2017 - Expansion adds 30% to the company's total footprint
May 2017 saw Solopress receive our 10,000th Trustpilot review, and in the following year we expanded our factory floorspace yet further.
With the future of Solopress secure under the stewardship of Onlineprinters, Andy Smith made the decision to withdraw from the company to pursue other entrepreneurial enterprises. Aron also took a step back from the helm but has retained an advisory role.
These changes precipitated the recruitment of a brand-new Managing Director for Solopress. In February of 2019, we were fortunate enough to secure the services of Simon Cooper, an experienced business leader with a strong background in print.
February 2019 - Simon Cooper joins as Managing Director
Under Onlineprinters, and the leadership of our new MD, Solopress has benefited from a major round of investment that’s seen the business add two Agfa Anapurna wide-format UV printers, two HP Indigo digital presses and a Kongsburg cutting table with further investments in the pipeline. Our ranks have also swelled to include just over 300 colleagues. This increased capacity led to a growth in sales from just under £21m in 2016 to £28.5m in 2018.
After a momentous and transformational couple of years, Solopress finds itself in a celebratory mood. In March 2019, we fulfilled our 2,000,000th order, and soon after that we marked our 20th anniversary in the print business.
Our 20th birthday was a fantastic opportunity to acknowledge our achievements and recognise the efforts of our passionate and committed colleagues, which we did with events, awards and our very own, custom-brewed “Solohop” Ale.
March 2019 - Solopress celebrates its 2,000,000th order
July 2019 - Solopress marks its 20th anniversary
As we plan for the future, we strongly believe that the way we treat and view the environment impacts heavily on the way we live and work.
We’ve gone to great lengths to source and offer products that meet the needs of our customers and our planet. You can discover more about how we honour our commitment to the environment here.
When you combine that commitment with super-fast turnaround times, excellent print quality, exceptional customer service and a happy bunch of people – that's the Solopress way of doing business.