The print & signage industry tax relief no one’s taking advantage of

19 December 2018 in Innovation

The graphics & signage industry is built on innovation. Finding new and more creative ways to express a client’s vision is our bread and butter. This begs the question: why aren’t more of us taking advantage of R&D tax credits when almost everyone qualifies for them?

Vism sat down with Dan Handforth from R&D tax incentive advisors & print and signage industry specialists, Kene Partners, to take a closer look at the scheme and how unbelievably easy it is to take advantage before the year ends.

R&D tax credits explained

Research and development (R&D) tax credits aren’t a new thing—they’ve been around for 17 years and exist with the sole purpose of rewarding UK businesses for their innovation initiatives.

“Through considerable research we’ve discovered that the most overlooked aspect of tax relief is in the area of R&D”, Adam Kene, (MD of Kene Partners) told Image Reports magazine. “Of all the creative enterprises it is, in particular, signage and large-format digital print companies that are the ones most engaged in R&D and which can therefore most benefit from these tax breaks.”

So why aren’t they? The simple fact is that many companies don’t believe they qualify and those who do feel as though the claim process is too complex to deal with. Dan Handforth encourages print & signage companies to reconsider, and here’s why… 

Which activities qualify for R&D tax credits?

Technology in the graphics & signage industries has progressed at an alarming rate in recent years, partly in response to customer demand and partly due to innovation in the wider technology field.

Innovative finishing options, high definition presses, automated processes and more sustainable/environmentally-friendly changes are all initiatives that hold the potential for HMRC tax relief, says Dan. And Kene Partners MD, Adam, agrees:

“If you, as a director of a digital print or signage company, want to be able to meet the demands of any customer, whether they’re asking for apparently straightforward results or far more complex work that requires any change or alteration in the equipment you’re using to produce the best work you can, the R&D tax relief scheme is almost certainly for you.”

According to Dan, if you can prove a project or initiative meets any of the following criteria, you have a solid R&D tax credit claim:

  1. An attempt to make advancement in science or technology
  2. The project was designed to overcome an element of industry uncertainty
  3. The project could not have been carried out readily by competent professionals/industry experts

Much of this should sound familiar and, if it does, you could have a solid tax relief claim on your hands!

How much can I get back with R&D tax credits?

The size of your company determines how much tax relief you can get. Dan gave the following estimations as a guide:

SMEs: Signage & print businesses with less than 500 employees or a turnover of less than €86m can claim up to £33,350 for every £100,000 spent on eligible R&D activities.

Large companies: Larger businesses that have over 500 employees or turnover more than €100m can claim something known as ‘research and development expenditure credits’, which are valued at 11% of the cost of eligible activities. 

Claiming R&D tax credits

Although you can submit a claim through the HMRC website, Dan advises working with an R&D professional so you can get the maximum amount of relief available to you.

Large format printing specialists RMC Digital revealed that they were able to submit a more substantial claim to HMRC in less time by working with Kene Partners. It took a single half-day workshop to collate details from relevant stakeholders, after which time, Kene Partners wrote a detailed report which could be submitted to HMRC:

“It was clear to us from the initial presentation that if we attempted to process the claim ourselves we would not have been able to get the full value of the claim,” RMC said in a recent interview.

The same was true of Signbox, who successfully claimed £125,000 by working with Kene Partners, showing the value of working with a team who really understand the print & signage industries. They recorded a great 2 minute video explaining how.

Embedded video

“We previously made an R&D tax claim in-house. It was significantly less than the £125,000 that Kene Partners secured for us” Watch how Industry leaders, Signbox secured £125,000 in R&D Tax Credits to invest in the launch of a new e-Store and precision cutter #innovation

R&D tax advisors like Kene Partners work on a success-fee basis, so you won’t be charged anything unless your claim is successful. Dan also advises that you can backdate your claim for the previous two years to maximise your payout. Better yet, initial consultations are free!

So why not give it a try? R&D tax credits are an excellent way to fund even more innovation and to be rewarded for something you do already.

Modern tools in traditional industries: is it finally time to digitise?

5 December 2018 in Innovation

Print is dead, or so we’re often told. Despite this, the industry continues to evolve its approach to the craft of laying ink on substrates and creating innovative new structures for display.

In the last few years alone, installations, graphics and signage industries have experienced innovations like Latex print technologylarge format photo printing and 3D metal printing to name only a few. In stark contrast, project management, communication and planning methods are still tied up in tradition, failing to evolve from spreadsheets, emails and paperwork.

3d printing

It’s understandable that some might feel reluctant to let go of traditional methods—they might be more labour intensive but they’ve worked for years and are tried and tested. Unfortunately, traditional methods might be holding you back when it comes to addressing the needs and expectations of modern customers and clients.

The changing pace of modern commerce

In today’s world, speed is everything. Customer and client expectations are built on immediate gratification—they’re asking for faster turnarounds, lower prices, higher volumes and more ground-breaking creative solutions than ever before. As a technologically savvy demographic, they understand what modern tools can deliver and when a provider fails to match the standard, they will find someone who does.

With this in mind, innovative creative solutions may not be enough to fuel business growth. Without modern tools to advance process workflows, few businesses will be able to reach the speed, agility or consistency of service that clients expect.

Modern business tools that promote business growth

1. Automation

Automation isn’t just limited to the print facility or work room. Plenty of businesses are already using the technology to get ahead. According to recent figures, 61% of businesses are already using some form of automation or AI for project management, marketing and HR.

Screenshot 2018-12-11 14.45.47

For the signage, graphics and installation industries, automation could speed things up considerably, while also eliminating human-error. Manual, time-intensive tasks, like hiring and briefing freelance installers, updating job statuses for projects and getting client sign offs could all be automated to give consistent, real-time communication for each team member.

2. Team communication platforms

The free flow of information increases engagement, reduces mistakes and gives company culture a healthy boost. Workplace communication may be key to success, but there are still plenty of businesses overcomplicating the process.

Signage, graphics and installations companies typically use a range of methods for workplace communication, including text, emails, phone calls and messenger apps. When asked, 63% of professionals said that they felt better communication tools would help give more clarity at work.

Screenshot 2018-12-11 14.47.12

Platforms like Vism can give teams a shared space to chat and work, leaving little room for miscommunication. Project managers have the tools to create and assign tasks which employees can complete and check-off in real time. Communication platforms also provide a central location to share files, documents and ideas.

3. Analytics

The more you know about your customer, your processes, your product and your business performance, the more successful you can become. Research has shown that companies who have adopted advanced digital capabilities grow far faster than their competitors.

Screenshot 2018-12-11 14.47.55

As a business, you channel huge quantities of data through the systems you use each day, from your finances to customer activity on your company website. There are plenty of ways to make use of your own business data, some of which could be as simple as plugging an analytics API into a system you already use. Making use of these insights can help you invest in the right area of your business, advertise more effectively and show where productivity can be improved.

Are you thinking about adopting a digital strategy for your business? Book a free Vism demo and see exactly how modern tools can streamline the way you do business. 

The top 5 retail displays for Spring Summer 2018

30 August 2018 in Innovation

Retail displays are everyday works of art. Taking a concept off the page, the shelf or the clothes rail and turning it into an interactive experience is no mean feat.

Here at Vism, we work closely with installation professionals from all walks of life and jump at the chance to celebrate their work when we can. Here’s our round-up of the top 5 retail displays and installations for spring/summer 18, and what makes them so great.

  1. Ted Baker – Barcelona El-Prat Airport

Ted Baker recently opened their very first airport store in Barcelona’s El-Prat airport. The European team at Ted Baker revealed that the design concept was a “nod to travel”, and played on themes of time, time zones and the moon. Their aim was to create a space that captured the “quirky and adventurous DNA” of the Ted Baker brand. Mission accomplished!

  1. Selfridges – Eye See Campaign

In July of this year, Selfridges unveiled a striking window display for their Eye See campaign, which promotes the launch of a brand new optical destination at their London store.  

The display utilised several windows, each themed around a different eye-related idiom and styled in a vibrant tropical colour palette, in-keeping with the season.

Eye Watering


Bat Your Eye Lashes


Eye of the Tiger

  1. #MKGO Graffiti for Michael Kors – Harlequin Design

Harlequin Design recently helped Michael Kors launch their #MKGO limited edition capsule series with fresh displays in over 100 stores. The first capsule collection, titled Graffiti, explores the connection between street art and fashion. The monochrome graffiti print of the collection is carried through into the installation, with bold graphic designs and 3D sunglasses.

  1. JOSEPH – Harlequin Designs

Fashion retailer JOSEPH also chose to team up with Harlequin Design, continuing their 5-year partnership to create a monochromatic display at the flagship store on Sloane Avenue. Spots mix with stripes to complement Joseph’s pre-AW18 collections.

  1. Napapijri – StudioXAG

StudioXAG stepped in to help Napapijri turn their Shoreditch pop-up into a “verdant wonderland” as part of their SS18 Out of Nowhere campaign. The shop fit is a perfect match for the premium Italian fashion brand, who value the opportunity to transcend labels and want to take customers on an “unexpected journey into nature and creativity”.


Do you have a favourite SS18 retail display? Leave a comment and tell us what you love about it.