The Story So Far....

Back in 1980 Richard Hayes and Erik Pordes with between them some 20 years of experience in book  production  with various publishers realised that there was scope for an out-sourced service to the industry, particularly for colour books, where the best manufacturing sources were  increasingly to be found outside the UK,  and the problems of communicating and accessing them were technically difficult.  Both had extensive experience with manufacturing sources in Europe and elsewhere, but in particular in the Far East, which at that time was a relatively rare asset.   As they found themselves unemployed and feeding their children on the lawn-mowings was not really an option, they decided to set up a business to offer their skills and services to publishers.

richard_and_colin.jpgIt is hard to remember that at that time the personal computer was in its infancy;  Imago bought its first computers (green type on a black screen!) in 1982.  The fax machine was not yet commercially available;  Bill Gates had yet to dream of  Windows and Steve Jobs had only just moved out of his garage.  Communication with overseas suppliers was via punched-tape- driven telex,  Excel didn’t exist and e-mail would not arrive for almost another 10 years.KC.jpg

Despite those apparent handicaps, the new business thrived and quickly grew out of the two rooms over an estate agent in Thame where it had begun.  Realising that they needed to have staff on the ground in the Far East to monitor and control the supply sources, they opened an office in Singapore in 1983, and shortly after KC Ng (now MD of the Singapore company) joined the Imago family in the Singapore office.  

It was quickly clear that there was much cross-over between publishers in the UK and USA, and that the colour book market was increasingly international.  Editions of many of the books Imago produced for UK customers were being sold into the USA, and at the end of  1985  Imago Sales Inc was established in New York to directly service US publishers, and is now headed up by Howard Musk. The following year Cherry Jaquet, now Group Production director, joined the company.Kendrick.jpg

By 1987 it was clear that Imago needed a full-time presence in Hong Kong as well as Singapore, and Kendrick Cheung, now MD of the Hong Kong company, joined the Imago family from Toppan as a founder member of the new Hong Kong office.   

By 1990 Imago had grown out of its second office, and a new office was built for the business at Station Yard in Thame. A new sales team was set up to work with European publishers, concentrating initially on Germany as the largest European publishing market,  and in 1996 a second US office was established in California. The scope of the business was rapidly widening to provide services covering all aspects of book and related product, including sourcing add-ons and electronics.

moving.jpgAs the millennium approached  it was clear that the Station Yard office was too small.  Through the 1990s the company had worked hard to develop training programmes for its staff to make sure that they really could offer genuine expertise wherever it was required.  The move in 2000 to Albury Court provided the necessary spacealbury_court.jpg, and  allowed the company to offer training to publishing staff outside the company as well as to its own staff. Imago Training was established 2003 as an independent training provider to the UK publishing industry, and 10 years on offers a broad programme of courses covering everything from Toy Safety to courses on every aspect of Digital Publishing.  During the last ten years the issues of compliance in the publishing industry, from product safety to ethical sourcing and social accountability,  have become increasingly challenging,  and Imago has played a central role in these developing fields as founder members of both PRELIMS and PREPS, and as a provider of training and as an information source in these areas.

A Sydney sales office was opened in 2003, now run by Ali Wheeler who had worked originally in the Thame office. In 2004 Matt Critchlow set up an office for Imago in Paris, and in 2006 the company entered the South African publishing market. 2013 sees Imago establishing its first direct presence in South America and Brazil.

In 2007 Imago Hong Kong expanded its production base further with an office in Shenzhen for easier access to suppliers in southern China, and in 2013 the Imago Group launched Albury Books, an exciting new venture led by Simon Rosenheim that offers creative publishing services to authors and illustrators. Richard Hayes retired in 2007 (although he sits on the board as a non-executive director), and in 2013 Jim Allpass took on the role of Managing Director.  Erik remains active in the company as Chairman.

Publishing is a world-wide business, and Imago has for more than thirty years built an enviable reputation for being able to handle the entire gamut of production, and is now the world’s  leading company offering such services to the international publishing industry and beyond, with over 150 staff round the world working with companies in Europe,  the Americas, Australia and Asia.   With experience and expertise in every aspect of print production and deep experience of working in China and South-East Asia, “novelty products”, “books-plus” and sourced items and components are specific areas where our knowledge of both techniques and sources can offer particular value and support to publishing, stationery, packaging and product design industries looking to create new or innovative product competitively. 

Why the Imago dragonfly?

Richard and Erik wanted a name that related to “ image” for their new company. The word “imago” is the Latin for image and also the biological term for the final adult emergent stage in the life cycle of an insect… and what is more beautiful and exciting than a dragonfly, to symbolise the extensive care and attention that we put into making your final precious product? 

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