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Secret of success in the used press business

From a modern warehouse in Crayford, Kent, there’s a business buying, selling and installing printing presses in places as far as Bangladesh and Mexico.

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Ian Bendy of Exel Printing Machinery

Speaking to Print Monthly magazine at The Print Show in September, Ian Bendy of Exel Printing Machinery explained how the company goes about exporting used presses.

“We have our own engineers,” he says, “we don’t use people outside, so we organise an installation abroad ourselves. The flights, the shipping, the packing and transport, the accommodation for staff and the installation. If you take out the shipping costs and flights, then it would be same installing a press in the UK as it would be in the Middle East. The market for used presses is stable at the moment, I wouldn’t say buoyant, but it is OK. We are pretty busy.”

Exel Printing Machinery is one of a number of well-known dealers which trade in second hand presses. It is business that cannot be done from a spare room or a lock up garage, as the space used presses take up along with engineering and servicing facilities requires a large amount of square metres. On top of that you need skilled technicians and plant that can collect and deliver a press, sometimes at short notice.

“We do buy from a company that’s gone to the wall,” continues Bendy, “but obviously we’d prefer to always buy from a company that is upgrading their presses. We’ll buy a printing press, refurbish it, clean it up make it like new and with a year’s warranty it’s ready to go. Printing presses are like a good car. It they are serviced and maintained properly they will hold their value and give years of service. A five-year-old press will still be in near perfect condition but will perhaps be around half the price of new one, so they are really good value.”

Some of the real workhorses from the 1980s and even earlier are still worth thousands of pounds despite the years

His words are born out if you make enquiries about used presses. Some of the real workhorses from the 1980s and even earlier are still worth thousands of pounds despite the years. Exel Machinery began life back in 1991 and soon concentrated on dealing in sheet-fed presses handling most of the big names such as KBA, Komori and Heidelberg together with some bindery kit.

“We do deal in some bindery,” explains Bendy, “but it usually comes as part of a package with the presses. There are dealers out there who only do bindery or finishing equipment, but we concentrate on sheet fed offset litho.”

And with a number of high-profile firms going bust in the recent past, plus new digital and hybrid presses coming on the market, there’s certainly no shortage of used presses. Coupled with the emerging print economies of the world such as South America, the Middle East and Asia there is also a demand for the very same. It is the secret behind the success of firms like Excel Printing Machinery.

Have you bought an ancient press for a song and found it has been your best ever buy? Email your experiences to harry@linkpublishing.co.uk or call me on Tel: 0117 9805 040 – or follow me on Twitter and join in the debate.

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