Snap ventures into English market

SNAP Printing solidified its status as Australia’s largest, most successful printing franchise with the recent addition of the 150th Snap centre in London.

The history of Snap goes back as to 1903 when the Imperial Printing Company started operations in Perth.

In 1920, a group of returned WW1 soldiers headed by James Tennyson Watt, acquired the company.

Due to illness, Mr Watt was replaced by his brother Edwin Stanley Watt in 1924, who continued to manage the business until 1962, when his son Stan became managing director.

Stan Watt observed the ‘instant printing’ concept in the USA and the rest is history.

“We took that concept and created the instant print market in this country, taking it to Sydney in 1970,” said Snap CEO Tim Hantke.

Two pilot operations commenced in 1979 in Caringbah and Brookvale, NSW.

“We did it there because it was as far away from Perth as possible, so we could really test the franchising concept,” he said.

“And we found significant differences between supporting company-owned centres and supporting franchises. Now we trial everything before we run it.

“We’ve currently got two digital print centres on trial: one in Melbourne and one in Sydney. We test everything – especially technology.

“Going into franchising taught us valuable lessons about research and pilot testing. The importance of site selection, training, and support was all learnt in the early days.”

Snap Printing won a swag of awards in the 80s and 90s, including being named Franchisor of the Year on three occasions and winning the 1990 Pinnacle of Franchising Awards from the Franchising Association of Australasia.

With 125 Snap centres in Australia (all but two are franchised), Snap can now be found in New Zealand, China and the UK.

“There are fourteen franchises in Ireland, eleven of which are in Dublin. There’s one each in Cork, Limmerick and Galway. They are arguably the most successful quick print chain in the world in terms of results, growth rates and dominance in the market.

“The move to China came about almost by accident – and whilst politically communist, their capitalist aspirations are very strong.

“The master franchisee we have there has two centres and he’s presently negotiating another couple. We would be one of the first franchising companies to actually franchise in China.”

Mr Hantke said the company had been looking in detail at its acquisition strategy for the UK as it is a highly mature market.

“In the end, we’ve done a master franchise in the UK with our Irish master franchisor,” he said.

“While we’re growth orientated, we want to now concentrate on existing markets. We’ve looked at Asia and South Africa but we’re not hoping to acquire other countries at this point.

Mr Hantke said Snap now offer an international service through a strategic alliance with American based company Sir Speedy.

“We’re aligned with them and linked by the Internet, so if you’re in Perth and want a job done in Chicago, we can arrange it,” he said.

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