We have used Xpress Signs for several years and have interviewed Piers the Director for this months’ newsletter. We ask them about challenges they have faced, how they have adapted to COVID-19 and what their predictions are for the property market in general.
• How long have you been in the erection business?
Xpress Signs have been printing and installing signage since 1998
• How many boards do you think you have put up?
I only have records dating back to April 2008, since then we have completed 994,521 board orders, so if we were to go back to 1998, well in excess of 1 million!
• What is a typical day for you?
The printers and sign fitters get into the warehouse between 6 – 7am. The fitters split all orders between them and the printers ensure all the signs are ready to go out. It is all a bit hectic until the fitters leave at around 8.30am. Then it is back into the office to deal with emails and calls. Site visits generally take place between mid-morning and mid-afternoon. The office closes at 5pm and we are usually out of the door by 6pm.
• How has ‘tech’ impacted on your business?
With regards to printing, the advent of wide format digital printing has made a huge difference. We can now print a 20m banner or produce a 20m hoarding the same day as we receive our artwork. Six years ago we Integrated our online board ordering system with google maps. This allows the fitters to see exactly where they need to go.
• Is it just boards or do you offer other services?
We offer a range of wide format printing for many industries. Producing hoardings, banners, exhibition signage & shop signs to name but a few.
• What is the strangest / most difficult job you have been asked to do?
We recently had to produce and fit a 28m by 9m banner in the form of a building wrap in Balham – not strange, but technically it was one of the harder jobs we have completed.
• How has COVID affected your business?
The fitters mostly drive vans on their own, so socially distancing has not been a problem. Mask wearing and hand sanitising is naturally mandatory in and around the office and warehouse. We have implemented staggered start times to reduce the number of staff simultaneously at work and the fitters often take two days work with them in order to reduce trips to the warehouse. 2020 was a tough year for many businesses and ours was no exception. Our clients are generally quite bullish about 2021, which fills us with confidence for the next 12 months.
• You have been in the property business for longer than most – what are your predictions for this year?
It’s a fool’s errand to predict any market and property is no different. Residential appears to have forged ahead while the stamp duty exemption has been in place, once this is over, I wouldn’t be surprised to see prices ease back a little. With interest rates to remain at historic lows for years to come, I don’t think we will see any dramatic drops in asking prices. For Commercial property, I expect warehousing to fare better than retail. The Coronavirus restrictions have pushed more people online and I think the High Street will struggle to regain some of its appeal. With internet purchases becoming easier all the time, these companies will require more warehousing pushing up demand for the limited supply.