We started with some desks, a derelict factory space and a telephone. But back then, as is the case today, relationships and effort were worth more than even the most expensive printing kit
— Les Manning, Founder

Rapidity was founded in 1986 in the East End of London. The business started with just 3 people in a rented office/factory unit on a now non-existent industrial building near Hoxton, Hackney (back when Hoxton was nothing like the hipster central it is today!). Originally called Printflow, the business soon outgrew that unit as a result of its rapid success and moved to premises on Goswell Road, EC1 in 1990.

Once settled in Goswell Road, the business quickly came to be widely regarded as one of the first printing companies to fully embrace digital printing as opposed to the established lithographic more traditional, slower, method of manufacture. This early introduction to the benefits of digital printing ensured that the business could react quickly and as was born London’s first 24 hour digital printing company.

Staff at our original factory in the East End circa 1989.

Our first factory circa 1987. Early Xerox digital presses in the background.

The premises on Goswell Road, in which Rapidity still has its HQ and has since acquired, were originally built for C&A to manufacture clothing for their West End stores and in fact were the site of Europe’s first mechanised production line for clothing manufacture. This early innovation must be in the bricks and mortar as Rapidity has recognised many innovations in digital printing in the same premises.

During the 1990’s the business grew steadily and sustainably whilst adding additional printing services, capacity and staff. Rapidity became known for its ability to provide quick turnaround, time critical printing for such sectors as government secure documents, major events and conferences and prestigious financial and corporate institutions.

Once into the 21st Century, the business continued to grow and eventually commanded a 14,000 sq ft factory in the middle of an ever-changing and developing world city. As the City of London developed, so did Rapidity and therefore services such as online web2print systems, automation of workflow and innovation in digital printing were offered to emerging markets in the tech, financial, educational and hospitality sectors to name but a few.

Citybridge House, then called Rubella House, built for C&A to manufacture clothes. Tram lines can be seen running above Goswell Road. Circa 1950.

Founder Les Manning taking an order from a customer circa 1987.

In 2012, Rapidity succeeded in being solely chosen to provide critical digitally printed documents to the London 2012 Olympics and provided such prestigious documents such as the athletes’ certificates (yes, we printed Usain’s certificates!), Olympic Village newspapers, full results lists and the highly confidential opening and closing ceremony guides amongst many other products. We even attained our own official designation from the Olympics ‘Official Supplier of Printed Communications to the London 2012 Olympic Games’.

During the 2010’s Rapidity pushed on with various acquisitions of companies such as Press4Print, Tapestry Print and LEFA Print. The company has since established a second factory in South London as to provide space for further growth and to invest in bigger more efficient technology.

Overs 30 years on since we were just 3 people in a small factory unit the business employs over 60 people, generates revenues in excess of £10m, works with over 500 companies and produces around 100k orders a year. We hold contracts with our major customers but pride ourselves in our ability to deal with anything from a set of business cards to a fully managed and installed large scale event.