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UK Printers called to save the Dodo Pad

dodoGiftware Association member Dodo Pad has challenged UK printers to find a way to produce its products affordably in the UK as it faces a fight for survival.

The Cornwall based company – a small business with a national and international customer base – has relied on overseas production for the last 15 years.

However, as managing director Rebecca Jay declares: “The huge drop in the value of the pound against the dollar brings Dodo Pad to a point in its 50-year history from which we can no longer recover unless we can get production back in the UK and have some certainty of costs.

rebecca-jay-headshot“If as a country we are ever to have a manufacturing base again then this is the time to do it – in the new world of Brexit. Maybe it should be renamed ‘Brincome’.”

The company – famous for its quirky diaries, wall calendars, planners and organisers – numbers Waterstones and WH Smith among its customers as well as many independent bricks and mortar and online retailers.

Rebecca continues: “While we already produce simpler stationery items locally in Cornwall and print costs – inks, paper, machine time – are not massively different here in the UK to China, the finishing costs are. Hand work required to complete the products = labour costs. Our biggest sellers need considerable ‘finishing’. This is what sent us to China in 2001 in order to develop and expand our product range affordably.”

She explains that Dodo Pad ‘rode’ the recession – just – and kept prices to end-users down as far as possible.

thumbnail_adp1617range“But at the same time we have been hit by massive online discounting through Amazon since 2008 and some large retailers effectively ‘bullying’ small suppliers with unreasonable contractual demands.

“Now, the 20% drop from our budgeted £1/$1.50 to the present level is just too much to be affordable. It will push up our print bill by more than £15,000 based on today’s USD/GBP rate. That’s 14% of our turnover. I quote these figures only to illustrate the relative impacts: £15,000 is the salary for one of my key part-time staff.”

In May, Rebecca placed a forward dollar exchange rate trade ‘bet’ for Dodo Pad. The gamble paid off to assure this year’s production – but not that for 2017.

GA chief executive Sarah Ward comments: “We have heard how the falling pound has benefited our exporters. But Dodo Pad’s predicament brings into sharp focus the difficulties it is posing for many suppliers whose costs have risen on products they are having manufactured outside the UK. Hopefully, one of our members or someone in the wider industry will be able to assist Rebecca or offer advice that will help save this fine British company.

“Those supplier and retailer members who are similarly suffering may wish to let the GA know. A problem shared may not always be a problem halved, but many of our senior members have vast experience across the industry from which they could benefit.”

You can email Rebecca at rebecca@dodopad.com or phone 0345 634 6272.
To contact the GA, email Sarah at sarah.ward@ga-uk.org or call 0121 237 1104.