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With businesses across the country needing to prompt staff and customers to observe social distancing guidelines, the demand for quality signs and personalised PPE has never been greater.

And no company has experienced this more than, a 50-person business based in St Helens, Merseyside, which was originally founded by John Boland & Dave Butterworth in 2001. HiVis has always specialised in the production of custom workwear, clothing, signs and safety PPE for businesses and, in a normal year, it produces a million printed items and enjoys a turnover of over £4 million.

However, this pales into insignificance when compared to the demand the company has witnessed during lockdown. In the space of a single week, it was inundated with demand from both current and new customers, which included everything from start-ups, churches and local authorities, to such well-known names as Sainsbury’s and Mercedes. Accordingly, HiVis has been running non-stop in order to create social distancing signage in the form of stickers, signs and posters as well as PPE. Most recently, its machines have been producing thousands of branded masks for brewery companies to give to their customers free of charge. At its peak, it was receiving an order every minute of every hour of every day!

To ensure it met the demand, the company depended on its Roland VersaEXPRESS RF-640 wide-format printer. Featuring an impressive print speed coupled with advanced productivity and reliability, the RF-640 delivers outstanding print quality, which makes it the ideal machine to produce fast-drying signage and graphics. HiVis revealed that it has tried other machines and suppliers, but over the last 18 years none has matched the same levels of quality and service that John has experienced from Roland.

As a result of the last few months, HiVis fully expects to double its turnover this year. Whereas the business ordinarily anticipates that £800,000 of its turnover will be generated via

Its sign printing activities, this year that amount has already risen to over £2 million, with orders still coming in from all over England. However, with Wales and Scotland now following the UK’s lead in easing lockdown restrictions, John predicts that there will also be a further surge in demand from the principalities too. To help meet it, John is now busily recruiting new staff, including local apprentices.

Reflecting on the challenges posed by a potential economic recession, John has tips for any concerned businesses heading for their first downturn. After successfully weathering the recession caused by the financial crash, his advice is simply: “Stay positive, keep advertising and collaborate closely with effective partners such as Roland DG.” Advice that is surely worth heeding!

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