Howdens Joinery

Howdens Joinery Group is a supplier of kitchens and joinery products to the building trade. They have more than 75 kitchen designs to choose from, plus more than 10,000 products across kitchens, joinery, and hardware. This is a lot of products, and their catalogues reflect this with the average page count of the publications being over 400 pages long.

In 2018 Belmont Press were given the opportunity to tender for the Howdens range of catalogues, with the flagship publication being the Consumer Product Catalogue, which is printed twice every year.

This is Howdens main piece of annual marketing so it's a thick, circa 400pp PUR bound book, with a print run of over half a million copies. The product is printed in 4 colour process throughout with a matt lamination to the outer cover, to give it durability for use on site with trades people.

Belmont Press were subsequently awarded the contract, and so by the time the 2020 edition came around for planning late in 2019, we had already printed the catalogue three times previously (twice in 2018 and then again at the start of 2019). The artwork for this latest edition was available from mid June 2020, with regular deliveries commencing from early July through to late August.

Potential pitfalls

A kitchen is one of the most significant investments a person can make in their own home. Therefore, the literature advertising Howden's range of units has to be an exacting representation of how the fitted kitchen will look in the flesh. Measuring colour from a physical item and replicating it onto paper (made from a living breathing raw material) can be challenging. It's important to understand the pitfalls right from the outset, before the first page is even designed.

The other area identified as requiring special attention is the size of the project. The catalogue equated to over 175 million sheets of A4 paper through press and over 500,000 books being bound. It is a sizeable  undertaking which required effective project management right from the start. Prior to production commencement, we were also faced with an unprecedented pandemic, which resulted in staff being forced into self isolation and our working practices changing for safety reasons, almost overnight.

In January 2020 we set up a temporary studio for the Howdens design team, on our own premises at Belmont Press. This enabled the team to bring in physical samples of their range of kitchens, design a page and then run out proofs to match. This fluid, live 'design to print process' enabled the team to achieve exactly the right colour before the first sheet through press.

Solutions and result

Once colour standards were set, the catalogue was placed into the copy design phase with print ready files being available by mid June 2020. By this time, we had already implemented our robust disaster recovery plan to counter any effects from the ongoing global emergency.

Almost all of our staff are multi skilled, from the trained machine operators through to our external sales force. Many of our account management team started as apprentice machine operators before moving into the commercial side of our business. This formed the backbone of our plan, with multi-skilled staff being able cover crucial production roles for other team members if required.

By the time the 'peak' had passed in April, we had remained operational throughout the entirety of the pandemic. Once the artwork was approved for press we commenced printing without any deviation from the original plan and schedule. By mid August 2020 we had made over 30 deliveries, outputting in excess of 500,000 quality product catalogues. Our staff delivered the project on time in exceptionally demanding and unprecedented circumstances. We are currently in the planning phase for the 2023 range.