Sterling is a full service creative and production agency, who like to think a little differently. Established in 1990, it has always sought to be at the forefront of technology offering the most comprehensive and best technology solutions to its loyal blue chip client base spread across a wide variety of commercial and public sector organisations.
Steven Pizzey, Managing Director of Sterling Solutions explains, “by offering each touch-point of excellence in-house, as part of a truly integrated creative and production service, we can offer not only quality and value, but also speed, innovation and cost savings that most other providers can’t.”
Covid-19 had an immediate and dramatic impact on Sterling’s business, with many customers’ cancelling or delaying jobs that had already been quoted for, followed by a huge reduction in new orders. To manage the initial shock to the business, Sterling sought support from their bank, who provided a term loan of £1.5 million. The loan enabled them to continue with a £1.5 million planned investment in new technology in June 2020, despite the world being in the grip of the pandemic.
Steven commented, “although the world was far from normal and the future looked extremely challenging, it was very important we did not lose sight of what makes a successful company like Sterling, different from the rest.”
Whilst production levels were significantly reduced, the business was able to protect the jobs of those who would otherwise have been made redundant, through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). Not only saving jobs but also enabling Sterling to retain the key knowledge and skills of those team members, who are vital to the business as order volumes begin to rise.
In the year following the initial lockdown, Sterling saw a reduction of £10 million in their annual turnover, yet still managed to meet all their financial commitments and record a profit, leaving them in a much stronger position than they were pre-pandemic, with the ability to increase turnover as the work returns. The business expects to see trading at or beyond pre-pandemic levels within the next six months.
Sterling made time during the quieter period to look at their workflows and analyse where they could achieve greater automation and efficiency in their production processes. Through Compass Business Finance, Sterling utilised the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) to invest in a new saddle stitching system to replace older equipment and allow them to generate significant productivity gains in the short-run booklet making space. They have also extended their capabilities by purchasing a new flatbed printer.
Steven added, “There has never been a greater need to ensure a progressive business such as Sterling, have the ability to continue investing in new technology and remain relevant to all or clients.”
The drive towards more efficient production has continued since the end of CBILS, with the purchase of a new palletiser to automate their end of line processes.
Compass Business Finance have supported Sterling Solutions at every stage of their business over the past 15 years, and as they continue to pursue growth and innovation, we will continue to provide them with the flexible and competitive finance they need to succeed.
On their relationship with Compass Business Finance, Steven said, “Our long and trusted relationship with Mark and Compass, has seen us run an average capital investment programme of more £2 million per annum over 15 years. Fortunately, for us both, this shows no signs of abating!”