1954 – Letterpress
The Marstan Press Ltd was founded in 1954 by the late Stanley Lett. Before the time that litho printing was available commercially, Marstan started life as a Letter Press firm, based in Bexleyheath with a staff of just 5. In 1968 Martin Lett (Snr) joined the company, working his apprenticeship before joining the management team.
1968 – Press Line Up
By the late 1960s the company had two Heidelberg Platens, and a Heidelberg cylinder.
1972 – Litho Printing
Marstan moved into the Litho printing market in 1972 following the purchase of a Kord 62 press, followed by a Heidelberg GTO in 1975. This press revolutionised the print industry with its huge advances in productivity.
Martin Lett (Snr) became Managing Director in 1977 and led the company through a period of rapid expansion, bringing print finishing in-house following the purchase of our second factory unit in Princes Street in 1980.
1988 – Four colour Litho Printing
The move into the full colour market in 1988 was responsible for further growth with a 24 hour shift pattern being worked for the first time. The created the need to invest in our own reprographics facilities in 1990. In 1994 Marstan purchased its third factory, providing the space necessary for warehousing and our move into the direct mail market.
2003 – Chemical Free Pre-Press
In 2003 Marstan Press became one of the first few companies in the UK in adopt chemical free computer-to-plate technology. In 2005 the third generation of the Lett family joined the company when Stephen Lett started in the reprographics department, followed by his older brother Martin in 2006 following his time at Loughborough University.
2007 – FSC Certification
2007 saw several exciting developments with the achievement of FSC® Certification in April, (at the time one of only around 100 printers to achieve this) followed by the purchase of our first long perfecting 10 colour Heidelberg Press in May. The year was capped off in December with the installation of Heidelberg’s Image Control Colour Management System on our presses, a system which helped ensure the colour accuracy and consistency on every job.
During 2008 with made multiple investments in our finishing department, including a Polar flow-line Guillotine, 3 new folders and sequential numbering and inline gluing facilities. The ‘Marstan Ball’ Logo was adopted as our branding was modernised.
2009 – Digital Printing
2009 saw Marstan Press take its first steps into digital printing with the purchase of an OKI EasiPrint System and a Morgana Creaser in January. This was followed by an OCE CS665 in April and a Xerox 7000AP in October. Thanks to the success of this new digital print division, the year was ended with an investment in the XM Pie Personalisation Software (which allows variable data printing).
2010 saw a further digital print investment with the purchase of a Xerox 8000AP, which was later replaced by two Xerox 8080s in 2011. Due to continued demand for short run, quick turnaround print work a Konica c8000 digital press was purchased, along with a Duplo perfect binder and a
Duplo stitching line. These investments provided the necessary productivity gains to provide our customers with fast turnaround digital print service. 2012 saw the launch of the very successful Marstan Christmas Cards for Schools fundraising project.
2013 – ISO14001 Certification
ISO14001 certification was achieved in August 2013. Also during 2013, research into litho presses began which led to the installation of a brand new Heidelberg XL 75 10 ten colour press in March 2014. This new litho printing press replaced the existing two presses and increased our capacity by 30-40%. The new press was configured with an ink pumping system to help reduce ink and paper wastage, and Inline colour control to ensure colour accuracy and consistency. In June the press achieved ISO12647-2 certification. At £1.4m this press is Marstan’s largest ever investment. 2014 did however start on a sad note with the loss of the founder’s wife Gladys Lett, aged 90. She would have been proud to see how the company has continued to develop.
2014 – Largest ever single investment
In February 2014 Marstan Press won the ‘Best Green Business 2014’ award at the Bexley Business Awards. With the installation of the new press it was clear that other areas of the business needed to be improved, so further investments were made in a Muller Amrys stitching line and the Tharstern management information system which provides highly detailed real time information, and also provides online ordering and stock management facilities for our customers. A new mezzanine floor was constructed in the press room in November to create a new modern space for the relocation of our pre-press department, including a new Heidelberg chemical free plate maker. In 2014 Marstan also said goodbye to two very long-serving members of staff. John Reavell was sales co-ordination director before his semi-retirement and fully retired in April. Production Director Tony Chapman, the company’s second longest serving member of staff, also retired in August 2014.
In celebration of the company’s 60th anniversary, the ‘Marstan Diamond’ Logo was adopted to mark this historic landmark.
2015 – Foil Blocking In-house
2015 saw further investments with the installation of a Xerox iGen 150 XXL Digital press (capable of printing on a 364mm x 660mm sheet size) and a Xerox Versant 2100 in March, followed by a new fully automated Stahl folder in November and a Heidelberg Platen for foil blocking in December.
2016 – Foil Blocking Growth Continues
Due to a major contract win, we added to our foil blocking firepower and purchased a Gietz B2 Foil blocking machine. By the autumn we had launched our trade foil blocking website at www.mpfoilblocking.co.uk and to keep up with demand a further Heidelberg Platen was installed in the November.
2017 – Sub-brand Development
Utilising our extensive in-house foil blocking facilities, we worked on developing our MP Foil Blocking trade foiling brand, and teamed up with Print Solutions Magazine in February for a stunning foil blocked promotional cover. Having secured a couple of significant foil blocking accounts, we added an SRA1 Heidelberg Cylinder for foiling (and die cutting). In late December we launched our MP Wedding Invitations brand, a dedicated foil blocked wedding stationery website.
2018 – UV Litho Printing
The year started with the arrival of a Ryobi 920 Series SRA1 press which replaced our 2014 Heidelberg XL75. The Ryobi is an LED UV press, which sees our entry into the UV Litho market for the first time. UV litho printing allows us to print on substrates such as PVC, polyprop, Mirri board, Curious and window cling as the ink dries instantly. The new press’s SRA1 size meant an upgrade in our pre-press department. Once again, Heidelberg lost out with the arrival of the Agfa Avalon plate maker and Apogee software. The plate maker is over twice as fast as our two old plate makers put together and is acknowledged as one of the leading brands in the industry.