IF you think the world of print is in decline, think again.

The Gemini Print Group, based at Dolphin Way, Shoreham, is proof of that.

It employs 160 staff, continues to expand and has a bright future.

Chairman Chris Pennison said: “The printing world has changed. We’ve weathered the storm and print is now in renaissance.

“As printers we needed to evaluate exactly where we were. We did just that and realised the future was very bright.

“People still want to offer printed matter but in a quicker and different format. The key was us realising this and adapting to the change.”

Brochures, special publications, promotional material such as pens and printwear, magazines, annual reports, art books and education prospectuses remain in high demand.

Chris said: “How people buy their print has changed but they’re still buying it and they still want it.

“Printed matter has become part of life again.

“We are clear what has made us successful. It’s all about forming positive relationships and providing added value.

“We adopt a very much consultative approach, and we always keep in our mind what the customer is trying to achieve.

“We achieve the highest standards of accreditation for green issues because we value that highly as well.”

Public bodies are an important customer for Gemini. This includes health authorities and universities.

Ideas are key to Gemini’s success. Chris said: “We take an idea, we develop it and we convert it into what the customer has asked for.

“We also mix in our own new ideas and give the customer more than they thought they would have.

“We remain very traditional. People still want to deal with people and very often they want to do it face to face with a team who have the experience to help them get the best results.

“The industry has changed, margins remain key and we have to be sustainable for the long term so our pricing must be competitive.

“The digital changes mean we can do things quicker and this will continue as the digital market evolves.”

The Brexit referendum last summer did affect business.

He said: “The morning after, the phone stopped ringing for eight weeks. It was an earthquake moment. But at the time we were ahead of where we wanted to be, we did not let anyone go and business confidence came back. In fact I would say we came back smarter and harder. We are managing our resources in a better way.

“We needed to rebuild people’s trust after the vote, and we had to tell everyone that professional printing is still very much open for business.”

Quality and loyalty of staff are both keys to success. Chris said: “There is a skills shortage generally and we are working with colleges to address that issue. I am proud to say we have a very loyal and stable workforce.

“They are committed, and that’s a credit to both them and the senior team now led by group managing director Steve Cropper. We are proud to have colleagues working with us for more than 30 years – a depth of skills and experience we are now sharing with the younger people setting off on their careers.

The Gemini Print Group says it is proud to partner and support more than 30 charities and community organisations. Young people, environment, wildlife, the arts, sports – practical hands-on support to help them communicate their messages effectively.

Investment is also important, said Chris.

“We are investing in equipment and we firmly believe that continuous investment is key.

“Don’t invest and very often that means you can’t offer the quality you need.

“We can’t rely on price alone but what we have done is good for the local economy, it secures jobs.

“But I am absolutely clear that we must have the infrastructure to satisfy our customers.

“Machinery, the skill base and customer experience are our priorities. We want our smallest customer to feel as good as the biggest.

“Our customers like high-level interaction

“We have to be something different and I believe we are and this makes us stand out.”

Group managing director Steve Cropper is proud of introducing an unusual level of “gender balance” into the commercial printing business.

With women in top roles in production management, design studio, customer services, account management and marketing he said: “As commercial printing evolves and demands additional creativity and a supportive consultative approach for clients large and small, it is important to our business to have a real balance of people across the teams.”

Account executive Cat Scobie, from Henfield, recently won the Gemini GEM award from Steve for excellence in customer service and consistent positive client feedback.

One of the directors is Julie Beard, recognised throughout the South for being one of the great names in quality commercial printing.

Her grandfather established G Beard and Son in 1952 in Gloucester Road, Brighton, with her grandmother Ivy.

After her father Dennis completed his National Service in 1952, he joined the printing business.

Julie attended Brighton and Hove High School followed by university achievements with a First in medical physics followed by a Masters in radiation physics.

Her academic success led to a globe-trotting senior career with the Ministry of Defence.

On her return to Brighton Julie worked in the family business until the point that she took over from her father.

The legacy of innovation and advanced printing skills was firmly in place.

Dennis Beard had recognised the birth of Digital Printing “ahead of the crowd” and his success led to a merger with Gemini in 2007.

The big news in the recent expansion at The Gemini Print Group was the arrival of its “58 ton baby”. It was a real challenge in logistics and skilled installation but the Heidelberg XL105 Speedmaster 10 Colour lithographic printing press is now up and running.

The company has invested in extra digital printing and inhouse finishing plant as well as just taking delivery of nine new vans.