Aug 09, 2017
Company founder and Director, Richard Napthine, remembers how it all began. Looking back through 40 years of life at Clipper-Retail, Richard explains how the company went from a local family business to an international success - through the hard times and the good:
“It all started in 1977 when an offer of a pricing gun came across my desk. I was working for a retail supply company who, at the time, weren't in that kind of market. Nonetheless, I thought the product had potential, and was eager to take on the challenge - even if it meant having to leave my job to do so.
“The offer was made by a manufacturer overseas, and it gave me my first big step into the trade business. The potential was clear - if done successfully, this pricing gun would be the first mass produced labeller in the industry. Previously, pricing guns had been produced and sold directly to big groups, but I knew that mass-production of price guns would lead to a whole new market. I sold label guns to wholesalers, traders, and people going door-to-door selling labels to shops.
“Building a company from the ground up wasn't easy - funds needed to be gathered and some sacrifices had to be made - but my family and I were determined to succeed. We even sold our personal furniture to secure the start-up money we needed. As the journey continued, the interest from wholesale traders grew for labels and labelling guns, proving it had been worth it in the end.
“With a positive relationship cemented with our pricing gun manufacturer, the next step was to find a company who could produce suitable labels. We had been buying labels from a Dutch manufacturer for years, and had already built up a great relationship with this vital supplier when they provided us with a small printing machine to produce the labels we needed for our new guns.
“The purchasing of this printing machine was a major step forward for Clipper, allowing us to print small runs of labels onsite for smaller retail customers. Consequently, this purchase established us in the retail trade market, growing our reputation for supplying trustworthy goods and printing services.
“We were still only small at the time - virtually everything was done in house - we serviced our own price guns and produced our own labels. We began making our own fluorescent cards when we saw a need for other stationary items, expanding our product range to appeal to the wholesale demand. Everything we did was done in good faith; building great relationships with customers who are still with us today.
“We soon discovered how important it was for businesses to follow up on market demands when, on the recommendation of a customer, we began producing the first pricing gun starter packs - labelling guns and labels in one attractive starter pack proved to be a desirable product in the wholesale market.”
When manufacturers in Europe began producing pricing guns in plastic, Clipper was on the case immediately, securing their first manufacturer and establishing the name Lynx. Even though the quality of these European guns was tremendous, it didn't come without pitfalls - at the time many manufacturers went in and out of business, so finding stability was a challenge. Luck was on Clipper Retail's side when the patent on what is now known as the CT4 Label expired, allowing the company to add these fantastic labels to its range. Clipper kept sailing smoothly, continuing to create a network of contacts across the world and maintaining excellent relationships with clients in the UK.
After pricing guns and labels, it was time for the next phase… Part 2 of the Clipper Story is available here.