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  • Writer's pictureElise Garner

Spotlight: Adams of Rye

Happy February! Each month we interview 2 members for our blog to showcase the variety of businesses that support our Chamber Of Commerce. In this interview, we speak to a long-standing member, Ian from Adams of Rye.


1. Thanks for talking to us! How would you describe your business and when was it founded?

We’ve been a Printers and stationers since 1854, but we also have our shop with stationery, cards, books, toys and giftware.


2. What's your background and how did it lead you to this business?

Before it came into my family, the business was owned by Arthur Adams and was located at 7 High Street in Rye which is where Café Zara now is. He purchased a second premises in Market Road – now the home of Rye Deli. So there was one site for stationery and the main printing works was in Market Road.


When Arthur died his widow didn’t want to continue the business and it was taken over by my grandfather, Jim, just before the Second World War.


In 1959 the business moved to its current location of 8 High Street which was previously an upholsterer and furniture maker and was large enough to house both the printworks and the stationery business.


The business was taken over by my father - Clifford, and then eventually by me, and now my son is in the business as well.

Ian from Adams of Rye

3. What makes your business unique?

It’s ageless – basically unchanged since the late fifties. We’re one of the few remaining printers that has a letterpress. Ours was made in 1886 and has been in the business since the beginning.


While of course, our printing methods have moved with the times, we can still use woodblock and letterpress processes.


Much of our business comes through word of mouth – the designing network. The fact that we’re a printing works with a letterpress as well as digital is certainly a rarity. While of course we do a lot of local business, our work sees us export to places as far afield as Australia and Korea, we print greeting cards for Liberty, Harrods and Fortnum & Masons.


4. What is your main business value?

Customer service. We value our customers and they value the service they get from us.


5. What are your plans for your business in 2023 – what are you focusing on?

Really just modernising machinery in the printing works.


Obviously, there are peaks and troughs during the year for the shop as there are for all shops on the High Street, but the printing works soldiers on throughout the year.


6. What are the challenges your business faces this year?

Rising energy costs are our big challenge – printing is a high-energy production process. The price of paper stock has doubled too.


On the shop side of our business, the cost of importing goods from places like China and India has risen considerably – container prices reached record levels not so long ago. Thankfully they are starting to come down again now to pre-pandemic levels which will help.


7. What are you most proud of in your business?

Our history and the fact that we’ve kept going. We’ve been through many difficult and challenging times – not just recent events - the 3 day week for example, but we’re still here.


8. If there was one piece of advice you wish you’d had been given when you opened your business what would it be?


I wish I’d been told truthfully the number of hours it takes to run your own business!


Also – advice on legislation and red tape, which is always seemingly on the increase for small businesses.


9. The biggest change you’ve seen to your business or your business sector since you started?

Without a doubt, the electronic age - computers and digital presses are absolutely fantastic – the stuff you can now produce at the touch of a button that used to be a very lengthy process is amazing. And on the shop side of things – the biggest change would be card payments – do you remember when paying by card involved a signature on a triplicate slip with carbon paper? That seems like a long time ago now! Card payments are 400% more than they used to be.


Thanks Ian! You can check out the Adam's website here.

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