From its £4 million purpose-designed HQ in Reading, International Copiers processes around 40,000 used printers and copiers every year.
Rob Wood and Paul Anderson set up International Copiers 22 years ago, with a target of £2 million turnover within the first three years. They achieved this on schedule and have enjoyed steady year-on-year growth ever since. Today, their company has 45 employees, 75,000 sq. ft. of warehouse space and an annual turnover of more than £10 million.
Before establishing International Copiers, the two directors had worked in the print industry for a number of years, Wood on the dealer side and Anderson with a leading manufacturer. From their different perspectives, they both recognised that there was a problem with the way used copiers were disposed of and the potential to make money by doing things differently.
“Back then there was a huge problem getting rid of old copiers. Every time we sold a new device, we’d end up with a used machine and these were clogging up the warehouse,” explained Wood. “Whilst it’s fair to say that many of the five-year-old ones were unserviceable, there were lots of models that had not reached end-of-life and were in good working order that we ended up selling for peanuts.”
Any make or model
The duo set up in business together with the intention of reselling used devices more profitably. Today, International Copiers sources used devices from OEMs, dealers and leasing companies, taking any model of device, from desktop printers to production presses, and all brands, although Ricoh, KYOCERA, Xerox, Toshiba, Canon and Konica Minolta are the ones it deals with most.
It also sources used devices directly from end users via another part of the
business, webuyanycopier.com. “We picked up 100 used devices from a local council the other day. They were delighted to free up the space and receive payment for machines that were simply gathering dust in the basement,” said Wood.
The company’s fleet of Mercedes vans and trucks is on the road every day collecting machines, bringing them back to head office and delivering quality used devices to International Copiers’ large customer base among UK dealerships. “We also use a number of specialist transport companies who deliver to us,”added Wood.
Once a batch of used machines has been received and sorted – International Copiers carries 8,000 copiers at any time – its twelve-strong team of manufacturer-trained engineers gets to work.
“We test and repair all of the devices, ensuring we only deliver machines of the very highest quality,” said Wood. “Carrying such a large stock allows us to configure any device with a selection of peripherals and options and tailor-make to most customer requirements. This extends from small office printers to some of the largest and latest production printers available.”
In addition to domestic sales, International Copiers has a thriving export business, especially for older and less feature-rich devices.
“We initially started buying up old devices and selling the better quality ones to dealers, which is a really important part of our business, generating some £4 million in revenue. In the early days, we shifted around 40% of the copiers we bought through the channel, but that still left us with a lot of less popular and older models in stock,” explained Wood.
“Paul took charge of handling this and set up an export side, which very quickly took off. Today, a large proportion of the devices we handle each year are exported around the globe.”
International Copiers operates to strict quality standards. It has had ISO 14001 accreditation for over 12 years; provides a secure data wipe service for customers, including manufacturers; and doesn’t sub-contract any of its warehouse operations.
Copiers are professionally packed and prepared so they are ready to ship by the container load – “Just to give you an idea of scale, in a typical day we can pack and ship up to four containers,” said Wood.
Special packing methods are used both to protect goods in transit, so that they arrive at their final destination in the same condition that they left the warehouse, and to optimise space so that the maximum number of machines is included per load. Two custom-made self-levelling docks ensure the safe loading of equipment.
“The majority of our customers are long-standing and we don’t want to lose them,” explained Wood. “We have grown the business by forging strong, long-lasting relationships. We look after our customers and pride ourselves on delivering the highest quality at the lowest price possible.”