While he may have fingers in many entrepreneurial pies, Sir John Madejski's commitment to his workforce at the Goodhead Group reveals an optimism for print, discovers Jo Francis.
In the wider world he's known for this philanthropy and his ownership of Reading Football Club. Here in the world of print, he's a fascinating and controversial figure, thanks to his ownership of Goodhead Group where he has personally bankrolled the multi-million-pound transformation of web offset wing Benhamgoodheadprint. Why? Sir John Madejski reveals his print vision in this exclusive interview.
Jo Francis: People in the printing industry are fascinated by your huge investment in Benhamgoodheadprint (BGP), and we at PrintWeek think it could well be the largest single investment in a printing company by a private individual anywhere ...
Sir John Madejski: (laughs) Do you think I'll get into Guinness World Records?
- Quite possibly. What has driven you to invest so much?
We came to a crossroads several years ago and it was a question of either stick or twist. We've got a wonderful workforce at BGP - they're good souls and work hard, and are very good at what they do. So we had a decision to make - either to walk away and dump mega millions, or invest in the latest technology and carry on. We decided to do the latter.
- Do you still think this was the right decision?
Under the expertise of David (Holland, chief executive) and his team we're getting there and it's very exciting. In answer to your question, it's definitely the right thing to have done. Of course, you've got the vagaries of the economy, which have not exactly been helpful. But we're capturing new business all the time. And we have a state-of-the-art facility - I believe we have the best web offset printing works in Europe. It's a fantastic site, in a great location. We think we're strategically well placed, with a winning workforce, and a good strong work ethic. We've just about got it right and we're getting there very quickly. It is a bit like owning a PLC I have to say.
- In what way?
Well, it's quite a large thing for someone to own, I suppose, but nevertheless we're getting there.
- So you and your team see opportunities despite the obvious overcapacity in the market you're in?
The fact is we've got the quintessential essence of the right kit, at the right time, in the right place. That's what does it for me. If we were flogging old kit and trying to make ends meet then I'd despair. The fact is we've got the state-of-the-art and that will win through. It's got to. Whatever anyone else is doing, we can do it better.
- With ambitions to hit sales of pounds 100m next year (see boxout) you clearly believe the …