Case Study: It’s all about the family at Stephens & George

8 Aug

In today’s digital world, running a successful printing business isn’t an easy feat. Yet Stephens & George, a family-owned company in Merthyr, have been successfully doing it for over 100 years. So what’s their secret? We talk to Andrew and Vanessa Jones on how caring for their employees has helped their business grow.

“We’re a family business through and through,” says Andrew, Chairman & Group Managing Director. “Since 1912, when my great-great-grandfather Mr George bought one of the first electric presses in the UK, to today where our children are learning the trade, our tight-knit family bond has helped Stephens & George thrive and we are now firmly established at the forefront of printing in the UK.”

Indeed, family-run businesses are now some of the largest in the world with the likes of Walmart, IKEA and Ford leading the way. Andrew says: “I joined the business in 1979 and by 1984 we had a turnover of £1 million a year. Now it’s nearer £28 million.”

The family bond stretches beyond just close relatives. Stephens & George also see their employees as part of the family. Andrew says: “It’s much easier to keep a good employee than to find a replacement.” No wonder out of the 231 people employed, over 70% have been with the business for over 11 years.

Thinking outside the box – innovating for the future

Stephens & George believe that as well as the people who work there, innovation is important for the continuing success of the business. They are highly focused on being agile and efficient – even if this does mean a large amount of upfront capital investment. “Since 1995, we’ve replaced our Heidelberg presses about four times,” says Andrew. “In fact, only in the last 18 months, we spent £4.2 million on binders and stitching lines. At the time, this was the biggest expenditure in the country in the last 10 years for one single order.”

Diversification is also key for Andrew and the team: “We’ve just bought another sports programme company and we are in the process of integrating it into our business. Sometimes, it’s about thinking outside the box.”

Printing for the best

This progressive way of working has allowed Stephens & George to build a reputation that’s second to none. Today they are proud to have worked with some of the most demanding clients around the world. “We printed brochures for Christies in London, and we were selected to print the Opening and Closing Ceremony brochures for the London 2012 Olympics.” They have also worked with Royalty and printed William and Kate’s official royal wedding programme. Unfortunately, they didn’t get an invite themselves!

Ensuring the legacy continues

What are Stephens & George doing to ensure their legacy continues? They know it’s not just good enough to invest in machinery; they also need to do the same with their skilled operators.

“We send our printers on a one-week course in London so they’re fully up to speed with the latest equipment and software,” says Vanessa. “Our mailer operators are trained in Italy and our binder operators in Switzerland.” In addition to training, they also make sure their employees are well looked after. “We provide pensions, healthcare, insurance and income protection,” says Vanessa. “It’s why people stay with us so long – we’ve even got some third generation operators!

“These people are our family,” says Andrew. “They are the future of the business, so investing in them makes complete business sense. I’m looking forward to where the next generation will take the business.”

Thomas Carroll and Stephens & George – Investing in tomorrow’s workforce

Thomas Carroll is helping to transform the way Stephens & George package their employee benefits. Mark Eedy, Managing Director of Thomas Carroll Employee Benefits says:

“Good employees are vital to the success of any business and Stephens & George are a great example of a company that look after and retain their workforce. A well thought-out employee benefits package can aid recruitment, achieve higher levels of engagement and ultimately boost profits.

“We work with Andrew and Vanessa to manage a flexible package of employee benefits that includes private medical insurance, life assurance, income protection and workplace pensions. Cost-effective additional benefits help to keep employees happy and healthy, now and in the future.”

Stephens & George – Print in numbers

  • 120,000 square foot factory
  • 13,000 tonnes of paper
  • 20.5 million sheets printed in one month
  • 13 million books in one year (binding line)
  • 78,000 pages processed in one month
  • 38,000 plates in a month
  • 18,000 sheets of paper per hour
  • Largest consumer of plates in the UK outside of the newspapers

Can we help you with your employee benefits package?

Our experienced team can provide you with a well thought out employee benefits package to give you peace of mind that you and your employees are taken care of. Get in touch today by calling us on 02920 887733 or emailing