Confessions of a print manager as ex Paperhat CEO Tim Peppiatt sparks a spat in Print Week

Tim Peppiatt Pic: Print Week

Confessions of a print manager as ex Paperhat CEO Tim Peppiatt sparks a spat in Print Week (because his creditors never forget his past)

In the 1990s I used a print manager to bridge the gap between my graphic design studio and my clients as I didn’t have the time to buy print on top of everything else.

He was a one man print broker who took away all the hassle of estimating, quoting, advising on papers and printers, ordering, monitoring the print process and delivering on time. Every advertising agency I knew did the same employing their own print managers or using a print farmer as they were sometimes called.

The guy I used described himself as a leach, skimming off a healthy profit for his work although I felt he earned his mark-up as it involved a lot of juggling of jobs. Print Week’s Jo Francis has penned a piece about the former Paperhat CEO Tim Peppiatt who had described in a talk that traditional print management was ‘commercially unsound.’


Jo Francis wrote: “Peppiatt was speaking at a FuturePrint Virtual Conference session, where he was in conversation with Vpress sales director Kelvin Bell. He said the classic print management offering had been the right option at the time ‘but it’s not fit for purpose now and hasn’t been for a period.’”

It wasn’t so much his views that sparked a reaction amongst Print Week’s readers but Peppiatt’s past at Paperhat because the firm went bust in 2018 leaving its creditors high and dry. He then went on to found other enterprises – a past of which he didn’t refer to in his talk. That sparked the reaction online.

It began with someone who uses the historic name of johannesgutenberg as their handle. He (I’ve assumed it’s a he) said: “And you want to take advice from someone that led a company into administration?”

Peppiatt immediately responded having had his ego pricked. He wrote in reply: “It’s not normally my habit to respond to people who cowardly respond behind a pseudonym, however I’ll make an exception in your case. The following phrase comes to mind : ‘Show me the person who hasn’t made a mistake and I’ll show the person who hasn’t made anything’. In 23 years, myself and my colleagues created literally thousands of jobs and spent hundreds of millions with suppliers. Apart from the odd night waking up wondering exactly why people behaved in such an appalling, shameful and disingenuous fashion, during a crisis that could have been averted, I sleep just fine.”

When a sports firm went bust years ago owing me a tidy sum a friend pointed out that the directors were happy to take all the profits when things went well but not the responsibility of debt when it crashed. And that phrase came back to me with Peppiatt’s defence. Somehow creating jobs and spending money with suppliers counteracts the debts of £1.5m he left when he walked away from Paperhat – or so it seems in Peppiatt’s mindset.

However he received support from some contributors on Print Week’s comment section with someone called Cool Grey commenting: “Back in the day, print managers saw an opportunity to offer something that printers either wouldn't or couldn't and in the process saved their clients lots of money.”

But there was also plenty of criticism of the idea of print managers who effectively take away much of the profit margins for printers. Someone under the name of Peeved Creditor noted that print management firms ‘promise year on year cost reductions to clients when they have little or no control of supplier’s overheads and most direct costs.’ And although Peeved Creditor acknowledged some print managers were fine many had a negative impact on printers as they drove down prices.

Some printers I worked with in the past had a policy of not accepting work from print farmers as they felt the unethical ones would demand the lowest prices making the work unprofitable for them. In one instance I knew of a print farmer who would play one printer off another to get the best price – something I’m sure continues to this day.

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