October 2020 marks Loxleys 166th birthday and we are very proud to have reached this monumental anniversary, but we did not just get here by chance…
No stranger to hard times, in the space of 166 years, Loxleys has seen a lot and grown a lot, to become the progressive forward-thinking business we are today. Two World Wars, two factory fires and wave one of a global pandemic later, Loxleys are now recognised as one of the UK’s leading specialist greeting card manufacturers, with over 165 years of service to the printing industry.
Established on Saturday 14th of October 1854 by two brothers: William and Edward Loxley, said to be descendants of Robert de Lockesley, also better known as Robin Hood. The business started out life as a stationers and printers, located at No.19 Fargate, in the busy bustle of Sheffield City Centre.
Known then as, The Loxleys Brothers, the brothers set themselves apart from the competition by targeting the commercial community, unlike their competitors who focused efforts on traditional forms of print including newspapers. Operating as a stationers shop front with a small printing facility behind the shop and working six days a week from 8am to 8pm, the business saw exceptional growth within the bookbinding market, manufacturing ledgers and account books, tailored to individual customer requirements.
Image of the Loxleys Brothers shop on Fargate – Originally listed as “Printers, Booksellers and Stationers” and known as ‘The leading stationers in Sheffield’
In 1921, due to continued growth and expansion, the printing arm of the business was transferred to a larger premises. Originally built as an Empire Roller Skating rink, Loxley Bros acquired the Victorian Altlas Printing Works building, on the then Aizlewood Road (now Kiln Street). But within three years of being in their new printing home, they were struck by the first catastrophic fire, virtually destroying the premises.
1923, Loxleys suffer catastrophic blaze, virtually destroying the entire premises. Loxleys official reopening title, having undergone a plant rebuild.
Two years later, August 1925, the factory had been rebuilt, reopening with Mr Selfridge of retail giant Selfridges, being the star speaker. Despite the fire, Loxleys managed to retain both its customers and reputation for high quality print, using the disaster as an opportunity to update and modernise equipment.
However, the one-time roller-skating rink provided an excellent home for the large printing machines and movement of goods as there were no obstructing columns or roof supports, and so the factory was rebuilt in a similar style. The same style in which the Loxleys building is still well recognised for today!
Post fire blaze, Loxleys specialised in catalogues, brochures, magazines and general high-class letterpress printing. As well as elements of lithographic colour printing, labels, posters, cards and general advertising literature.
However, by November 1950, another fire struck the factory, although not as catastrophic as the blaze of 23, some equipment was destroyed and it was decided to prevent further disasters a night watch team would be on site during the winter months.
Loxleys original printing premises and machines on Aizlewood Road (now Kiln Street) factory.
By 1967 the business was booming and had now reached a total factory capacity of 45,000 square foot. However, late 1960, after loss of its major steel client, the Fargate shop front sadly closed, leaving just the printing arm of the business remaining.
The iconic white front Loxleys building pictured on the then Aizlewood Road (now Kiln Street)
By the 1980’s Loxleys had racked up over a century of specialist printing experience and made its move into specialist greeting card production, and so began the relationship with their first greeting card customer; Celebration Arts of Corby. By 1984, having established a comprehensive specialist manufacturing service for greeting card publishers, greeting card production constituted for over 40% of their turnover and Loxleys was well recognised within the greeting card market.
Rapidly gaining market share with expert printing knowledge and experience, today Loxleys is one of the UK’s leading specialist manufacturers. Now focusing solely on greeting card and social stationery production with a complete and diverse range of in-house greeting card services, including full sheet and single card foiling, embossing, die-cutting, cold foiling, and flittering.
Specialist card folding, mechanised wrapping, inline labelling, single card wrapping, card inserting. A comprehensive digital printing facility and a complete in-house range of environmentally friendly printing techniques and finishing alternatives, and much more.
A variety of card publishers cards printed at Loxleys – The Home of Greeting Cards.
Whilst a lot has changed at Loxleys over the years and continues to change, we are still proud to operate out of the Sheffield based once Empire Roller-Skate rink. Tony Lorriman Loxleys Managing Director, reminisces on the changes he remembers during the early days at Loxleys…
“My first memory of Loxleys is been sat in our rather grande board room being interviewed by the then owner and Managing Director Tim Carrington; I was fortunate that Tim decided to give me the job of trainee sales person and the rest as they say is history! I have been at Loxleys for 23 years now and during that time the biggest changes I’ve seen are technological related…it’s like a different world now a days and the younger generation will not believe how different things used to be!
Back in the late 90’s when I joined Loxleys there were no PDF’s, digital proofs or laser imaged plates; Repro was old school with original flat artwork, transparencies, scanners, film, cromalins and wet proofs whilst platemaking was a skill as opposed to a mouse click! There were hardly any computers on the premises when I joined, mobile phones were the size of a small house brick, sales people navigated around the country using road atlases and A to Z’s, hand written fax’s and memo’s were the usual form or communication and digital print technology didn’t even exist!”
Four decades of specialist greeting card knowledge later, and as we and the world around us continues to change, the business anticipates continued development to do what we do best to meet evolving customer needs.
Understanding our customer wants and needs is at the forefront and key to driving all change at Loxleys, we like to see ourselves as not just a manufacturer but a trusted partner to both our customers and employees. Who without either, celebrating this birthday would not be possible! From humble beginnings to northern printing powerhouse, we are very proud of our heritage, but most importantly of our loyal customers and employees, both past and present, who have contributed to the brand we are today and continue to contribute to shaping our brand in the future.”
With a century and a half under our belt and four decades of specialist greeting card knowledge, there’s no wonder that we are well known as ‘The Home of Greeting Cards’. Here’s to celebrating the next 166 years…