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Glasgow Business . 27

and to digital printing which has impacted greatly on newspapers and publications. So this tremendous revolution was going on in the background. “So we had to stay fit, we had

to stay able, we had to stay relevant to our customers. We were the first printing company to have its own design studio and we were thus able to offer a one-stop shop, which was terribly important to our customer base. Up until then our customers had to go and look for a design agency, which could involve going to London and they would pay a fortune for a label which oſten wasn’t going to work.” John said: “We had a lot of

specialists who knew exactly how labels should work. A lot of our customers came to us and said ‘could you make this label more atractive for a younger age group in say the Far East. I don’t want whisky just to be seen as ‘something that you drink straight or that your old man drank before you with a drop of ice in it’, can

“We never made anybody redundant in the 50 years I was at the business. When people realise that you have no-redundancy policy they work much harder and are tremendously loyal”

you make this more atractive? “If you’ve got a problem with

your printing, if you’ve got a problem with your packaging, your labels; come and speak to us first and we will hold your hand and take you through the whole process of design. Tey called it in the whisky industry a ‘refresh’ – they didn’t want the label to change dramatically but they wanted you to change it so that it was more atractive to a younger consumer in the Far East, or America, or wherever.” Another key to the company’s

growth was extending the business out of labels. “We were experts in labels and we also got ourselves into tube wraps. If you

go through Glasgow Airport or Dubai Airport you will see a lot of botle in tubes – I don’t mean the outer 12 boxes, I mean the individual boxes. We said to our customers ‘Why use two different printers and the colour’s different? Why not use us and we’ll guarantee that if that’s the colour you want for your label you will get that for your box as well. Tat was an absolute masterstroke and we got a tremendous amount of tube wrap business from that. “We always liked dealing with

the drinks industry in general and the Scotch whisky industry in particular, the reason being that a lot of people in the Scotch whisky industry are commercially and

financially very solid.” John also highlights the

importance of geting the right team of people into your business. “I cannot stress enough how important that was to John Watson & Company’s growth. We had a situation where we never made anybody redundant in the 50 years I was at the business. When people realise that you have a no-redundancy policy they work much harder and are tremendously loyal. Watson says that he has always

invested in technology but he also warns against businesses borrowing too much, quoting the Shakespearean warning that “vaulting ambition o’erleaps itself.” John Watson was awarded the OBE in 2006 for services to printing and charitable purposes in Scotland. In 2014, Glasgow Chamber marked John’s contribution to Glasgow business and the city economy by awarding him the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce Award for Lifetime Achievement.

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