It wasn’t so long ago that the role of the letterhead was a straightforward one. It conveyed the address and telephone number of the letter’s sender. But this humble sheet of paper now bears a heavy load and has grown into a complex communication.
The address is there, and the phone number, the fax number, the mobile phone number, the freephone helpline number, the ISDN number, the e-mail address and the website address. And the bloody numbers keep on changing. If offices aren’t busy switching from BT to Jersey Bell and back again, then Oftel is making yet more pronouncements about changing exchange numbers – in less than three years London, for example, is going to be presented with the prefix 020 replacing both 0171 and 0181. In addition, new office technologies require higher performance papers and companies are also increasingly aware of the need for stationery to embody the corporate image.
This, of course, is all very heartening stuff for the designer, paper supplier and printer. “We view any changes in elements like telephone codes as an opportunity for people to evaluate the paper they’re using,” says Denise Reid, business papers marketing manager of Arjo Wiggins Fine Papers. The company has been among those at the forefront of manufacturing innovation and is fully anticipating a healthy rise in business between now and the end of the century. Recent figures suggest that the watermarked business stationery market will grow by 2 per cent each year, while sales of off-the-shelf A4 sheets are expected to show a considerable growth of around 8 per cent. Arjo Wiggins has also detected a general trend in the use of higher quality papers in the workplace.
“If a company has been using the same stock for a couple of years, it’ll need to take into consideration a lot of changes – not just new telephone numbers,” says Reid. “For a start, most offices now have laser and ink-jet printers that operate a great deal faster than a while ago – where they used to print maybe two or three pages a minute they’re now up to speeds of more than 20 sheets. A lot of offices have introduced colour printing too – and all this has a bearing on the papers chosen. New office technology makes huge demands on papers. And alongside this is the consideration of image, the recognition that a company can speak volumes about itself through the paper it chooses.”
Reid says that many offices are opting to use different papers for different functions – “after all, you wouldn’t expect the MD to write on copier paper”. She also says that there has been a distinct move towards buying whiter and smoother papers and this has led Arjo Wiggins to launch its super white Opale Premier in the UK. The new stock has been developed as the brightest “pure” white on the market. Its 100 gsm weight has a total office guarantee for use with desktop and high-output laser and ink-jet printers and photocopying machines. It also has good bulk for effects such as foil-blocking, embossing and die-cutting. Later in the year, and to address the needs of digital printing, Arjo Wiggins is planning to launch a range of papers for use on Xeikon and Indigo digital presses.
Image-awareness and runability are detected as the main concerns of clients for specialist stationery printer Baddeley Brothers. “Compared with five years ago, people are spending a lot more on their stationery,” says spokesman David Pertwee. “People want to differentiate themselves from the crowd and so we’re getting lots of work that incorporates perhaps an element of embossing or die-cutting, engraving and so on. In recession, the print budget was one of the first things to be cut back. However, now people are investing more in marketing. But there is always the concern of runability – whatever we produce has to run through their office machines. For example, although there have been great improvements in laid papers, most popular by far is the smooth wove finish because of its predictably good results. At the moment around 90 per cent of our work is completed on wove papers.” Pertwee adds that he’s also detected a fall off in interest in recycled brands and that soft whites are very mid-Nineties.
Of the latest launches, the new Zanders Classic seems absolutely la mode. This soft, high-rag-content paper has a deeply luxurious feel, but has the smoothness to cope with the battering it gets in high-speed ink-jet and laser machines and is also good for foil-blocking, embossing and die-cutting. New from Inveresk too is a subtle ivory shade as an addition to its Fulmar range. This high performance wove stationery paper is unwatermarked and has a smoothness which is guaranteed for laser and ink-jet printing. It’s available in 90, 100 and 300 gsm weights. Also from Inveresk is the relaunched Avalon. The brand identity re-inforces the message that the paper contains cotton to give a premium feel while also performing well on all office equipment. The relaunched product is available in a wider range of weights and textures, it’s got a new watermark and is made in a cleaner, brighter white.
In the turnaround from virgin papers imitating the recycled look, manufacturers of recycled papers are now producing papers that are hard to separate from the virgins. Evolve, from UK Paper, is a new recycled range of graphic and business papers and lays claim to being the first recycled paper on the market “that is truly comparable with paper made from virgin fibre”. The clean sheet looks good and is made for high performance. And the new stock is made from pulp containing 100 per cent genuine office and post-consumer waste. This should satisfy the demands of the most environment-aware client and has been made possible by UK Paper’s 43m investment in its recycled fibre plant in Kent which removes 99.5 per cent of ink. It’s sold in popular sizes and weights including an uncoated version in 80 and 100 gsm weights.
Close on the heels of Evolve is Berga Harmony from Enso Office Papers. Again, this is made from 100 per cent recycled waste – more than 50 per cent of which is post-consumer waste. It’s watermark-free, laser and ink-jet guaranteed and is ideal for use in copiers and faxes. Best of all is the sensible policy of making the paper in three qualities: one is an all-purpose office paper for printers, copiers and plain paper faxes, the second is a pre-print quality for letterheads and preprinted forms and the third is a base paper for envelopes.
And finally, from the merchant Robert Horne comes Huntsman Pearlescent, a graphical board that’s ideal for business cards. It’s smooth and white, and has a pearlescent coating in smooth or embossed finishes. Most effects are available in weights from 170-390 gsm. Also new is the uncoated Neusiedler Color Copy-R. This is approved for use on a Xeikon digital press and is ideal for short-run colour print work including letterheads.
Arjo Wiggins Fine Papers’ Samples and Advisory Service Tel: 0800 993300
Robert Horne Graphics Board Division Tel: 0345 020203
Robert Horne Paperlink Tel: 0345 443322
Inveresk Fine Papers samples Tel: 01259 455000
UK Paper Tel: 01795 564444
Epic Helpline – for free paper information and sampling service for buyers and specifiers. Tel: 01734 665665