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Barnwell Print Limited - Hire Purchase and Regional Growth Fund

Barnwell case study

Possibly the UK’s oldest family owned printing business

Barnwell Print Limited is currently run by two fourth generation printers Lincoln and Julian Barnwell. Established by the Barnwell family in 1840, it is thought to be the oldest family owned printing business in the UK. 

The core business is commercial and digital printing, covering anything from digital business cards to full colour cased bound books. The customer base is nationwide across sectors such as tourism, local governments, education, charities, manufacturing, agencies and also direct with the public. 

Lincoln and Julian Barnwell have both been in the trade since they were 16 years old, so collectively they have 62 years of experience in the industry. Plus to add to this further, Barnwell’s workforce collectively equates to over 400 years of experience. 

Keeping up with demands

In order to keep up with the competition and protect their customer base, the company wanted to increase their sheet size to an SRA1 by purchasing the Komori G37 H-UV printing press. This new press would replace the existing Komori equipment that was being used and would provide a faster turn around for them, due to the machine being able to produce print on a bigger sheet size, enabling more pages to go through on one pass. With the current equipment, the business struggles to get the operators to carry out overtime at the weekends and the flex created by overtime is disproportionately expensive.

Lincoln and Julian met with Jonathan Bennett, Commercial Director at Close Brothers Asset Finance to discuss financial options for purchasing the new equipment. Having assessed the company’s financial status, Jonathan discovered a well-established business, with the ability to service the proposed debt based on historic financials. The print industry is an ever changing dynamic and it is fundamentally in decline due to the proliferation of online media. As such, print firms are forced to innovate to survive and so, this means investing in new machinery to keep pace with competition and that failure to do so will result in a diminished business. 

Gaining a grant from the Regional Growth Fund

Jonathan found that the business would be eligible for funding from the Regional Growth Fund (RGF) as they would be creating a job role within the business as a direct result of the upgraded machinery.  Barnwell Print was successfully awarded a grant of £130,000 and Jonathan was also able to tailor the remaining financial requirements via a Hire Purchase product. This would allow the business to own the new equipment at the end of the agreement.  

Julian Barnwell, Joint Managing Director, commented: “Many, many thanks for the time and commitment Close Brothers have invested in Barnwell Print throughout the funding process. With this financial support, we recruited a Business Development Manager, whose key role was to start building up our sales and activity in the market place, ready for the new press installation and this has now been successfully installed. If we hadn’t had Close Brothers input and hard work, we wouldn’t have been able to secure the government grant and additional funding, and subsequently, we couldn’t have recruited for the new role or committed to the purchase of the new machine.”