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Q&A with Roger Aust, Managing Director, print division

Where should printers intending to diversify go for advice?

In today’s world there are a wealth of options available when it comes to seeking advice, but it can also be overwhelming given the multitude of additional research resources available at our fingertips. Looking at it from our perspective, it’s important that printers stay close to, and in touch, with their local chambers of commerce for local business opportunities. Customers are also a great source of advice – in many ways, who better to ask for diversification advice? Independent professional advisors are also a very good source of guidance.

How should they assess whether a market is worth a big upfront investment?

Again, research is key. There is a lot of information available out there, but ultimately, you’ve got to use your own nous. Timing also plays a critical part - for example, is the market already saturated? Are the margins there? Can you add value to what is already potentially an established market?

What should they do to make sure they don’t overspend?

Before embarking on any expansion or growth plans, any business owner – not just printers - must evaluate the amount they can afford to lose and not been drawn into a situation where they spend more than they can afford.

What do you as a finance house look for? (i.e. what do you need to see to persuade you the proposal is more than a hunch, presents a good chance of success and is worthy of backing?)

As an asset financer we look at assets, but crucially, the people too.

Ultimately, it’s a balance between asset value; the knowledge and background of the people involved; the capital base and our perceived understanding of how a new business will cope with the inevitable ups and downs before it matures. We’ve supported many businesses from inception and are proud of our record of nurturing firms through the inevitable economic cycles they will need to weather. Often, our advice to them is to stick to what they’re good at and they’ll turn the corner – which they inevitably do. There is no better example than the 2008 financial crisis where we continued to support our customers when many other funders exited the market – we know good businesses don’t go bad overnight.