Plaistow printing firm flourishes with new technology

Mike Stewart has weathered no less than four recessions

Mike Stewart has weathered no less than four recessions - Credit: Archant

A willingness to adopt new technology has helped a business flourish despite the current tough economic climate.

Mike Stewart has run Stewart Press in Barking Road, Plaistow for the last 30 years.

He first got the bug for business using his parent’s printer in the family coal cellar at their Kensington Avenue, Manor Park home. During a spell as a milkman, Mike’s entrepreneurial talent took off as he advertised his printing services by adding flyers to his milk deliveries. Eventually he was receiving enough orders to set up his own business and has been trading ever since. Newham Council recently introduced a parking pay with one hour free parking time at the front of the shop which has helped business but more needs to be done to help support local traders.

Mike, 57, who is Newham born and bred, said: “I’ve been through four recessions but I’m still trading. Online competition meant that I had to change from a traditional litho printer to using digital technology – I’ve adapted and learnt new skills which isn’t easy as you get older.

“I have loyal customers who value being able to come in to the office and speak to me in person – they get a personal service at an affordable price. After thirty three years of trading I still get a buzz out of coming up with innovative ideas to support customers and helping to keep trade local.”

Competing with the online market meant Mike had to buy new equipment to survive. When Mike visited his bank for a small business loan or temporary increase to his overdraft he was turned down. This meant buying equipment piecemeal and has slowed his prospects for growing his business.

Lyn Brown MP for West Ham visited Mike’s business to hear firsthand about some of the challenges Mike and other small businesses face.

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She said: “Many small businesses such as Stewart Press are keen to grow however they continue to suffer from lack of access to affordable finance. Around 40 per cent of firms that try to access finance are refused, according to the Federation of Small Businesses. The Government must do more to ensure small businesses such as Stewart Press can get the support and finance they need to survive and grow.”

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