2016: Year in Review.
It's been a year of consolidation for the industry and we have, unfortunately, seen a lot of our competitors swallowed up by very large multinationals. Meanwhile, some of our long-standing customers have re-branded, as they begin to recognise the need to develop packaging that appeals to a millennial customer-base.
At Label Apeel, 2016 has been a strong and positive year. We've seen great growth and predict a £5 million turnover for the coming year, meaning we've made a 15% growth on the year. While some of this has been through existing business, where our commitments to service, turnaround times and quality have been rewarded by customer loyalty, a lot has been driven by astonishing amounts of new business. This has been a challenge in its own right, with many new relationships to build and making sure that we never get caught in the trap of treating every customer in the same way. Instead, we recognised the need to discern individual customer needs and to make sure that we meet those specific requirements.
There have, of course, been things that have frustrated us; the most significant of these being the print industry's absolute inability to react to the skills shortage juggernaut that's hurtling towards us. But, in the face of this shortage, we continue to be committed to training, education and development. In 2016, we have taken on two trainees on top of the four we took on last year. Unfortunately, some of our larger competitors are more beholden to the short term opinion of their shareholders than to long term strategy for the survival of their business. My sales manager, who came to us from university six years ago, receives a new offer every month on average! Whilst even our second-year apprentices are getting offers from larger local rivals. Fortunately, our staff recognise Label Apeel's commitment to their long-term development and know that growth is worth a lot in what is fast becoming a hire and fire culture elsewhere.
In lighter news, probably the biggest asset to the company in 2016 has been the implementation of our supported canteen! Not many companies have a proper canteen these days, and it's been a delight to see the Label Apeel staff enjoying their breaks together over plates of hearty food. Our cook, Camille, who supplies the most wonderful food for all three of our shifts, must be given most of the praise for the canteen's popularity. Every day we offer a choice of three options, including both a vegetarian and healthy option, as well as a breakfast for those who are out of the house early. If an army marches on its stomach then us label printers laugh, chat and produce fab labels on ours! If you are ever passing, then do feel free to drop in and try out the Label Apeel canteen.
As we step back and focus on ever more innovative designs and solutions in the world of labels, we took a deliberate decision not to enter any awards in 2016. (Though I have to say, I'm glad we did! The calibre of labels that won this year was truly fantastic and I think we may have been pushed to have beaten them.) Having said that, a whole 12 months without any champagne has left us thirsty for more success and, with some fantastic labels already ear-marked for nominations, we'll be firmly back on the award trail in 2017.
From all of us here at Label Apeel, we wish you a wonderful and prosperous 2017.