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Trade Secrets

Kall Kwik Fleet Street

Rob Fletcher talks to Natalie Muckell, owner of the Kall Kwik Fleet Street branch, about how the franchise has established itself as one of the ‘go to’ print-service-providers in London

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Natalie Muckell (second from right), owner of Kall Kwik Fleet Street, with (L to R) designer Victor Santos, accounts manager Tina Castro, and manager Christos Tzanetis

Flying the print flag in Fleet Street

Kall Kwik is known across the industry as one of the most successful franchisee networks in the UK print sector. With 40 branches now active across the UK, Kall Kwik continues to go from strength-to-strength as more consumer learn about the range of services on offer from franchisees.

One site that stands out as one of many success stories is Kall Kwik Fleet Street. Located on what was once the stamping ground of journalists and printers, the business counts some of the most popular West End shows among its customers, and employee-turned owner Natalie Muckell is keen for the branch to continue to grow.

Muckell trained as a graphic designer and started her print industry career with Prontaprint, rising through the ranks before moving to Colour Company, where she ran the Victoria and Canary Wharf centre, as well as serving as a trouble-shooter for other underperforming branches.

However, after finding herself at a career crossroads and taking time out to think about her career, in 2001, she joined Kall Kwik Fleet Street.

“I took a sabbatical to focus on my future and after a few months rest I had a light bulb moment,” Muckell explains, adding: “Far from being fed up with print I realised it was in my blood, I loved it and didn’t want to do anything else. So I looked around for my next opportunity and answered a job ad for Kall Kwik Fleet Street.”

As the business thrived under her management, it was not long before Muckell was given the opportunity to buy out the business from its retiring owner—a decision that has more than paid off. Muckell now employs a team of four full-time and two part-time staff, and is also about to take on an apprentice.

“Building up a rapport with clients and delivering outstanding customer service combined with competitive pricing is one of the keys to our success,” Muckell says, adding: “My loyal staff have been with me a long time so the team is very established. Clients like knowing the people they are doing business with and the familiarity that goes with that.”

Building up a rapport with clients and delivering outstanding customer service combined with competitive pricing is one of the keys to our success

Strength of the brand

Kall Kwik Fleet Street has a varied customer list that spans West End production companies and shows, through to marketing and PR firms, companies from the legal sector, and major financial organisations. Muckell says while having such a strong, and loyal, client list is valuable to the company, she adds that keeping an eye on industry trends is of paramount importance to retain these customers.

“Office technologies have improved so much since my Prontaprint days, so the services clients buy from us have changed,” Muckell explains, adding: “For example, people don’t want letterheads so much anymore as they can design and print them on their own PCs and e-mail has almost done away with business stationery like compliment slips and printed envelopes.
“I’m always looking to see what things people need that they can’t do themselves, which is why we offer services including exhibition stands, large-format, and e-commerce.

 “Over recent years we have ramped up our digital offering considerably and invested in getting in the right kit to meet ever-changing client needs. Legal matters are still very paper-based, so we probably do proportionally more copying work than a print and design centre would outside the City.”

Muckell also pays a special tribute to The Bardon Group, which holds the master licence to Kall Kwik.
Nigel Toplis, managing director of The Bardon Group, heads up the operation, and is no stranger to the Kall Kwik brand, having begun his own career in franchising with the company.

“For me, the consistent main benefit of being a Kall Kwik licencee has always been the strength of brand,” Muckell says, adding: “It is the market leader and well respected within our marketplace. With Nigel in charge I can see a huge difference. There’s much more head office support, sharing of ideas and a brand new website that is delivering outstanding results for us.”

Future focus

Despite having built up such an enviable customer list, Muckell is keen for the Kall Kwik Fleet Street branch to push for further success and always keep an eye out for new business.

The branch counts some of the biggest production companies in the West End among its loyal customers

Muckell explains: “When business confidence is low customers tighten their belts, so it’s really important to beef up our marketing even more and keep our name out there. Price becomes far more important and we make sure that we give the best prices.

The branch is based on Fleet Street in London, a location once famous for journalists and printers

“At the moment things have slowed slightly because of Brexit and every time there are jitters in the market we feel it here. But in the main, we keep very busy because of our excellent location and experience.

“I will continue to diversify and keep looking for new products and services. We will invest in new equipment and I’m currently looking at getting in new digital kit that does foiling to enhance our portfolio of machinery.”

Kall Kwik Fleet Street has four full-time staff, two-part time employees, and will shortly be taking on an apprentice

Although admitting that running a franchise can be tiresome work and require a lot of commitment, Muckell has little hesitation in recommending the franchise route to others that are keen to start up their own business in print.

I will never sell the business; instead I will put in less hours and leave the day to day running of the business to my brilliant team, as they deserve the opportunity

“I love this job so much, and thoughts of retiring are a long way off. I will never sell the business; instead I will put in less hours and leave the day to day running of the business to my brilliant team, as they deserve the opportunity.”

Kall Kwik Fleet Street’s top tips for success

•    Keep an eye on emerging trends
•    Invest in technology and equipment to deliver the widest possible
     range of services in-house
•    Maintain a high level of marketing
•    Keep a tight control of cashflow and debtor days
•    Know what your competitors are doing
•    Focus on customer service
•    Invest in people

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