TALL Group Celebrate Queen’s Award for Enterprise at Runcorn
The staff of The TALL Group of Companies are delighted to receive the Queen’s Award for Enterprise: International Trade, presented by Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Cheshire, Mr David Briggs, at its Runcorn Head Office on Tuesday 2nd October 2018.
The event to mark the occasion was attended by the Lord Lieutenant, local dignitaries, founding shareholders and staff from the three TALL Group sites, together with representatives from the DIT in the North West.
The TALL Group of Companies, a leading supplier of security print and secure electronic payment solutions, received the export award for its export sales of security print products. These include ballot papers and voting lists for National and Regional Elections, Treasury documents and certificates, cheques, drafts and dividend warrants, and a wide range of fully personalised and highly secure degree certificates for many prestigious international universities.
The TALL Group of Companies is the only company within the security print sector to win its second Queen’s Awards for Enterprise, with its first awarded to Checkprint Limited, a Member of the TALL Group, in 2005 for innovation.
The Lord-Lieutenant of Cheshire was joined by the Mayor and Mayoress of Halton, Councillors John and Marjorie Bradshaw; Chief Executive, Halton Chamber of Commerce & Enterprise, Rachael Owen; and DIT Head UK Regions North West, Paul Stowers.
TALL Group Managing Director, Martin Ruda accepted the ceremonial certificate on behalf of all TALL staff, and TALL Group Export Manager Cas Amato was presented with the Queen’s Award trophy for his part in international trade.
The Lord-Lieutenant of Cheshire, Mr David Briggs said: “My congratulations to The TALL Group of Companies for winning the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise in the category of International Trade. Only 15 of these awards were made in the North West in 2018. Indeed, this is the second time that one of The TALL Group of Companies has won a Queen’s Award.
It was an honour to represent Her Majesty The Queen and present The TALL Group of Companies with their award, recognising the amount of effort that has been expended by members of their staff internationally. I wish them well in the future.”
In a Vote of Thanks to the Lord Lieutenant for presenting the Award, Martin Ruda, commented: “It is a great honour to receive The TALL Group of Companies Queen’s Awards for Enterprise: International Trade and this is a true testament to the staff throughout the TALL Group who have made this achievement possible. It is through their hard work and dedication that we can be gathered here today to receive this prestigious award. I speak on behalf of the TALL Group Board and the site Directors in saying that we strongly believe the entire TALL team will carry on to even bigger and better things – and to go for a third Queen’s Award!”
Councillor John Bradshaw, Mayor of Halton said: “I’m honoured to celebrate the TALL Group of Companies’ success in being awarded the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise. This award alone is very impressive but what’s even more extraordinary is this is The TALL Group of Companies’ second Queen’s Awards received. On behalf of Halton Council, I want to offer our sincere congratulations on receiving the Award. The criteria for the International Trade Award is very stringent and it’s a testament to the hard work to everyone at The TALL Group of Companies here in Halton and your other two sites.”
Paul Stowers, DIT Head UK Regions North West said: “I would like to congratulate The TALL Group of Companies on receiving the Queen’s Award for Enterprise: International Trade. This is a fantastic achievement and testament to the company’s continued growth, innovative export success and their contribution to the UK’s secure print sector. At a local level, North West DIT Export Champions, TALL Security Print is a shining example of what can be achieved internationally from the Northern Powerhouse.”
Each founded over 25 years ago, TALL Security Print Ltd, Checkprint Ltd and DLRT Ltd together form the TALL Group of Companies. Based in Runcorn (Cheshire), Hinckley (Leicestershire) and Lisburn (Northern Ireland) respectively, the Group employs over 150 people dedicated to secure print and payments solutions.
TALL Group featured on Management Today website
The following article by Stephen Jones was published on the Management Today website on 25th July 2018 under its Leadership Lessons heading
How the TALL Group avoided chequemate…
Faced with the decline of its core business, the UK’s leading cheque printer has had to seek new avenues.
by Stephen Jones
If someone told you could corner the market for bankers’ cheques in 1991, you’d have been fairly pleased with yourself. We’re always going to need cheque books, right?
But then the internet happened, and for cheque book manufacturers like the TALL Group, conditions suddenly looked less rosy: over the last two decades, the volume of cheque usage has declined at 15% a year.
Yet through a strategy of diversification, innovation and internationalisation, TALL has not only been able to survive, but thrive.
It’s remained profitable over the last 10 years – except for an operating loss in 2011 following exceptional costs. The group posted a bumper profit in 2016 – driven largely by the acquisition of the Northern Irish based DLRS (now DLRT Ltd) – which it has maintained every year since.
The three company group has been specialising in the production of secure documents, cheques and credit slips for over 25 years and counts ‘nearly all’ of the major UK banks and building societies as well as a swell of corporates, educators and national governments among its diverse, but specialised list of clients.
‘Twenty years ago, cheques and credit account for over 90% of our core sales,’ says TALL MD Martin Ruda. ‘So we have had to mitigate the threat by doing a number of classic diversification routines, look for alternative products,services and markets. But also find ways to add value to a diminishing product.’
This diversification has been two-fold, focusing on areas closely aligned to its core product.
The decline of physical cheques does not mean a decline in payments and the company has invested heavily in developing technology that facilitates the transaction of all types of payment.
It has rolled out an outsourcing solution whereby it prints, audits and distributes cheques on behalf of clients, while the development of cheque scanning software solutions continues to represent a fruitful opportunity. It is now investing heavily in building products supported by blockchain technology.
In the realm of physical products, the inbuilt security holograms or features and sequential numbering included on cheques are also used on a variety of other types of document including birth certificates, exam results and ballot papers.
The fact that the company already had the inbuilt production processes has made it easier to double down into these markets, which have proved to be particularly effective as an export.
International expansion has also been a major part of the group’s growth strategy – and the area that it has arguably seen some of its the greatest success.
Having had a largely native client base, the company recruited an experienced export manager in order to identify new opportunities in international markets, government applications and education markets. Ten years later, it now exports to over 20 countries and was awarded the 2018 Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the international trade category.
‘Where our opportunity lies is in challenging emerging markets,’ says Ruda, explaining how the Group has been able to attain significant custom outside of Europe, in regions including West Africa, the Caribbean and the Middle East.
‘The European markets are already well served when it comes to security printing, and many of them don’t use some of these core products such as cheques and paper certificates.’
But it hasn’t all been plain sailing, the ‘volatile’ nature of third world markets can be unpredictable and demand for TALL’s products can differ dramatically year on year. For example in 2016 the company was required to produce 20 million ballot papers for the Ugandan election, whereas in other years a similar order may not be required.
As a result the company say that international exports can range anywhere between 10-25% of the annual turnover.
The biggest challenge is ‘understanding and foreseeing the technology shifts that will increasingly affect all of TALL’s markets. Up to two million cheques are still processed every working day, but big changes are on the way.
The nationwide UK roll out of truncation technology – which requires all cheques to be electronically scanned – will change the nature of TALL’s product, but continues to hold increasing opportunities, especially in the innovation of the security features that survive the scanning process.
Ruda admits that the business has been able to increase its share of a heavily regulated market due to the limited number of accredited competitors, which has only gotten smaller as the market declined. But TALL’s success shows that those with an innovative strategy and willingness to adapt can ensure survival in the most difficult markets.