You may well be wondering why I am writing about this person who most of you will never of heard of. Firstly he was a huge personality in the printing industry from years gone by and he deserves to be remembered. Secondly, the very position of "print buyer" has largely been forgotten but is one that in a now bygone era of design and print was paramount . It should be remembered that in the pre-digital age, print was the foremost communications medium and therefore, it's production and distribution, especially to a global organisation like BP, was incredibly important.
Having trained as a Stereotyper (hot metal, lead platemaking) Paul then served in the RAF for his National Service. After a short stint as a sales rep, he was approached by one of his advertising clients - the advertising agency Mather & Crowther (now Ogilvy & Mather) and joined them as a production executive. He later joined Thomas Cook as a print buyer and after six years moved to BP as assistant print buyer. Four years later, when his boss Denis Peacock moved on, Paul became print buyer for the whole of BP.
Although in overall charge of the company's print output, due to the shear enormity of the organisation (over 300 subsiduaries across the world), Paul acted as a print buying trouble-shooter for many of the departments based at Britannia House (BP's headquarters) and other companies in the BP empire around the world. The two largest publications that were produced were the Annual Report, the print run being a massive 450,000 copies in 1986 (!) and the Statistical Review. In 1986/7 the annual report was designed by Lock Pettersen (now Tor Pettersen) and the Stastistical Review by Ron Ward Design.
|British Petroleum Interim Report|
|BP printed literature in colour|
Having retired in 1987, it is unlikely that many people active in print and design will remember Paul or the many print companies that he worked with (sadly, most of which are now defunct) such as Metcalfe Cooper, Libra Press, Dixmotive Press, Hunterprint, Stukeley Press, Tanbryn Litho, RR Donnelley et al. A measure of the importance of print buyers is that when Paul retired in May 1987, there was a two page article about his career in the trade magazine "Print Buyer" (yes, there really was a magazine published with that title!)
|Print Buyer Magazine May 1987|