William Linney starts a book shop in Mansfield.
Now based in a 34-acre site in Mansfield, 20 minutes from the M1 and 25 minutes from the A1, the business has developed into a sophisticated marketing services company.
Although Linney Group has evolved from its bookshop beginnings, the provenance of the company remains harnessed to the concept of us being outstanding at doing beautiful things with words, numbers and pictures; from creative through to the point of sale.
The second generation, John Linney, aged just 21, joins the business, forming W&J Linney.
John launches the Mansfield and North Nottinghamshire Advertiser.
The business is by now a book seller, stationer, printer, wholesaler, newsagent, musical instrument vendor, paperhanger, warehouse proprietor, steam printer and newspaper publisher.
Herbert Linney is even on board as piano tuner and repairer!
Stanley Linney, the third generation, joins the business. There is a saying in family businesses: "Clogs to clogs in three generations,". It nearly came true in Stanley's era. A wonderful chap who suffered ill-health, Stanley also had to contend with the fact that his father John had passed on 50% of the business to a cousin. Sadly, they did not get on. It was left to Ian Linney to borrow £17,000 in 1946 to buy it back, thus securing the platform for the business as it is today.
One of many firsts for Linney!
Our bookshop on Westgate was the first private company in Mansfield to install a telephone line. A telegraph pole was erected in Angel Yard, behind the shop. The telephone number was Mansfield 2 (The police station was Mansfield 1.)
Fourth generation Ian Linney, our current Deputy Chairman, joins the business. After four years in the RAF, he finished the Second World War as a Squadron Leader flying Mosquitoes.
The business now employs 18 people with an annual turnover of £35,000.
The Mansfield Chronicle and North Notts Advertiser newspapers merge… and the Chad is born.
Between now and 1969, the business also opens four new stationery shops.
A team of 50 people now operates in the print business, under the name Linneys of Mansfield. The business, however, is about to embark on a big weekly newspaper growth programme.
The fifth generation to join the business, Nick starts work as an apprentice in the print works.
Mansfield town centre goes through large-scale change with the creation of the Four Seasons shopping centre. The Linney name proudly remains a link between the old and the new.
Our flagship shop relocates into the Four Seasons centre.
On the print side, our first large-format presses are installed, starting with a two-colour litho machine, swiftly followed by four-colour presses in 1980 and 1982.
We enter the computer age, the biggest investment being £65,000 on Linotype VIP computerised typesetting devices, eliminating the need for hot metal typesetting.
The same process starts in our newspapers.
The acquisition of Taylor Brown Office Equipment, in Mansfield, gives the Group a huge head start in the world of word processors and then PCs – a technological lead which we have maintained.
The end of an era with the sale of the retail shops to Martins The Newsagents, a national chain. Our Mansfield shop is the biggest in their portfolio. Changing retail patterns, in particular the arrival of major shopping malls, mean the business no longer sees its future in retailing.
First PC is used in the business. Our entry into low cost personal computing – £4,000 per PC – with three Commodore PCs.
As print turnover hits £2m and staff levels reach 100, our print company becomes ‘Linneys Colour Print’.
In just three years, all presses are replaced with new machines, boasting computerised inking and perfecting technology and costing over £1.5m.
Mail-Lin is formed to enable us to polybag, mailsort and despatch magazines. Following the first major contract win for complex despatching, other contracts quickly follow.
With demand for collation and stock management growing from our print clients, in-house fulfilment proves invaluable. This shows the Group an interesting way forward.
Linney Group acquires a ‘freesheet’ in Mansfield called The Mansfield & Sutton Observer. Within the business is a design company called The Design Works which consists of one member of staff. This business goes on to become Linney Design.
The same year we start Linprint, a small sheet size printer.
Sixth generation, Miles Linney, joins the business after leaving school, going to Australia for a year and a three-year stint in the City of London. He started as an assistant cleaner; today he is Chief Executive of Linney Group and a Director of W & J Linney
Linneys Colour Print is among the first UK printing companies to achieve ISO 9000 quality-management accreditation.
Links with our print clients have also helped The Design Works become a major design supplier to UK universities.
To meet growing demand, Mail-Lin introduces new computerised fulfilment for order capture – this is later extended to link directly with clients’ own databases.
Prelin installs our first Scitex system, including scanner, rip and imagesetter – this secures in-house colour reprographics for the first time in the Group.
The business sells its newspapers to Johnston Press, the UK’s fourth biggest newspaper publisher. Part of the proceeds are used to create Adamsway, paving the way for today’s Linney Group.
The disposal of the newspaper opens the way for the third major era. Era one was books and retail, era two was newspapers and print, era three is the dynamic marketing services group we are today.
W&J Linney acquires the highly innovative Quadrant Offset Limited. Founded in 1969 at Welwyn Garden City and now based in Hertford, Quadrant represents the B2 sheet-fed printing arm of the Group, with a skilled team offering great quality and fast turnarounds.
We start using email – it takes us two more years to stop printing them out.
The future starts here…
Work begins on our new, purpose-built 10-acre site at Adamsway in Mansfield. Three generations of the Linney family are on hand to help get work under way on the Group’s future home.
Many local ‘movers and shakers’ attend the ground-breaking ceremony. Everyone gets a pint of Mansfield Bitter and a slice of pork pie. Mark Hammond, our youngest member of staff, breaks the ground.
A new era begins, with the completion of our Adamsway facility.
The 10-acre site now houses Linneys Colour Print, Linprint, Prelin, Mail-Lin, Business East Midlands and The Design Works.
Margaret Beckett, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, helped Ian, Nick and Miles Linney to bury a time capsule beneath the main entrance. Among its contents are local icons including a can of Mansfield Bitter, a copy of The Chad, a computer of the day and the annual budget for the year.
The Quadrant studio is re-equipped with the latest technology and merged with the plate room.
Meanwhile, Mail-Lin invests £600,000 in further automation and MIS systems, while Linprint spends £1.5m on new plant and MIS systems. It later merges with Linneys Colour Print. For greater clarity, The Design Works is renamed Linney Design, Linneys Colour Print becomes Linney Print, Mail-Lin becomes Linney Direct and, together with Quadrant Offset, they become known collectively as Linney Group – the relaunch takes place at the Millennium Dome.
Sixth generation, Charles Linney joins the business after leaving school, going to Australia for a year and then running a Linney Group dot com start up in London. Today he is a W & J Linney Director and spends most of his time in Linney Direct.
Linney Print invests £300,000 installing computer-to-plate equipment and upgrading digital pre-press.
Quadrant Offset Limited rebranded as Quadrant Design and Print Solutions.
Another year of major investment.
Linney Print spends £1m on perfect binding facilities. Quadrant invests over £1m on two five-colour presses and new computer-to-plate facilities.
From five employees in 1992, Linney Design now operates with 50 staff. It breaks the £5 million sales barrier, making it the biggest design agency in the East Midlands that year.
Linney Direct’s turnover is now close to £10m, with services including digital print, online ordering, stock management, call centre and bespoke IT solutions.
The Group continues its high rate of investment in technology and people. Team leader training covering many different subjects is introduced and the Group’s pursuit of ‘world-class’ concepts continues to accelerate.
Linney Design makes its mark at No.51 in the Design Week’s top 100 design groups in the UK.
The same year, Linney Connect is born – connecting expertise across all our companies and external partners, as needed.
Four generations of the Linney Family and 300 Linney people share Adamsway’s tenth birthday with a family fun day and some enormous birthday cakes.
Linney Group is the biggest family-owned company, in its field, in the UK. Linney Design rises to No.32 in the Design Week’s top 100 design groups in the UK.
Linney Design is audited 26th in the Design Week’s top 100 design groups in the UK.
Linney Group provides POS materials for a wealth of well-known high street names. Having forged close links with many digital print suppliers over the years, we also invest in an Inca Onset UV grand-format press and two Kongsberg i-cut machines which can cut, score, route, crease, drill and etch materials.
Linney Group installs a Xerox IGEN 4, adding to its digital print solution. It offers a true print on demand service as well as driving return on investment for our clients using variable image and data, complementing other campaign elements.
Purchase of a 19-acre adjacent site, known as Bellamy – Linney Group now totals a 34-acre site.
Further investment in a wide format digital print machine the Vutek GS3250 and two i-cut cutting tables, saw us further extend our point of sale capabilities.