This blog has now been archived. Click to visit the new Merson-ASG website

Merson Group Announces Partnership with Toppan


This month Merson Group announced an exclusive new partnership with Japanese manufacturer Toppan to become the sole UK distributor for Fortina – an exciting range of design-led cladding products.

Fortina is a stunning new architectural cladding and interiors system that achieves the aesthetic of real wood using aluminum and a hyper-realistic non-PVC surface. The collection comes in a wide range of finishes that are indistinguishable from wood whilst offering a number of additional benefits. It is more environmentally friendly, cost-effective and easier to maintain than its counterpart, making it a perfect material for both internal and external retail environments.

Toppan is now widely regarded as a leading supplier of environmentally friendly products, Fortina being one of them. UK businesses are well aware of the fact that sustainability is no longer a niche concern; it is a principle which informs all aspects of their work. Sustainability accreditation is vital to any business and Fortina is fully compliant with Merson Group’s ISO-14001 certification.



Fortina enhances any commercial space and has proven to be popular choice for the retail and hospitality sectors in Europe, the US and Japan. Merson Group has exclusive rights for Toppan products in the UK and Fortina is the first of a number of ranges which Merson Group will offer.

Roddy Angus, CEO of Merson Group, said of this new venture:

“It was clear from our early discussions with Toppan that this could be an excellent partnership. We are delighted to have Fortina as part of Merson Group’s Building Environments offer and look forward to introducing it to our clients, who I’m sure will be as enthused as we are by its unique look and feel.”

Fortina complements Merson’s existing range of Woodtex extrusions and offers a wider selection of decorative finishes, some of which are particularly suited to design-led building interiors. New finishes are constantly being added to the range to reflect current design trends.

A forthcoming article on the Merson Group blog will show how Fortina has been used to enhance various environments. Similarly, the Merson Group stand at the imminent Retail Design Expo will be constructed using Fortina, a tangible demonstration of how this is a core element of Merson Group’s new ‘Building Environments’ proposition. We would be delighted to welcome you to the stand where you can see both in action.




Merson to Debut at Retail Design Expo
On the 9th and 10th March 2016 Merson Group will be unveiling their exciting re-brand at Kensington Olympia’s Retail Design Expo.

Following a series of acquisitions over the past five years, Merson Group comprises five divisions, each equally specialised and experienced in the production of environmental elements for the retail sector. This will be the first time that a Merson Group offer is publicised as a one-stop solution for retail, from the cladding on a shop’s exterior to the numerous interior point of purchase signage options that encapsulate your brand and direct your customers.

Located near to the popular Champagne Bar on stand S30, visitors can expect to be impressed by the appearance of Merson’s exhibition space. It will encompass both tangible examples of our work and interactive displays of our capabilities, alongside an innovative lighting solution courtesy of a new product we are delighted to be offering in 2016.

Company representatives will be on hand to discuss your bespoke requirements and to give an interesting insight on the current and potential capabilities of Merson Group.
Please come and visit us on stand S30;

Click here for your free registration! 
 

2015 - Our Year in Pictures
We were fortunate enough to be involved in some great signage projects in 2015, from one-off jobs to ongoing works for our key clients. Great looking projects often result in some very attractive photos and last year was no different, so here’s a look back at some of our top images from 2015.

Church Street Market



Church Street is a bustling marketplace in London’s city centre. We manufactured and installed two 7-metre high illuminated totem signs, one at each end of the Market area. Each letter face panel is glass, with the lettering engraved and then infilled black. The bright letter tiles contrast the matte-finish stainless steel cladding of the main sign body.

Nationwide Building Society



We worked extensively with Nationwide Building Society in 2015 to implement their new branding structure, including various prototyping works and design development of new signage products. Following a successful store fit-out at their Croft branch located within their Swindon headquarters, we implemented new signage at many branches across the country.

British Land 



British Land’s extensive property portfolio was in need of a new signage family; we aided the construction design development phase before fabricating and installing all signage across their retail parks. The naturally-shaped signs are comprised of a GRP body with internal illumination and polycarbonate face panels.

St. Pancras Station



We aided the design development and construction design phases for a new wayfinding signage programme at London’s St. Pancras station, featuring the latest energy-saving LED technology and easy-change wayfinding panels. Following development we carried out implementation of the signage package.

Baku 2015 


We were tasked with the design, manufacture and installation management of a comprehensive wayfinding signage package for the 2015 European Games held in Baku. This vast scheme consisted of over 30,000 signs and 33,000 vinyl. The majority of manufacture was undertaken at our printing facility located near our Glasgow Head Office, and all the product was completed it was flown out to Baku for installation.

SSE Hydro



This stunning brand new venue is located in the Centre of Glasgow is part of the SECC complex. We implemented their VIP entrance complex consisting of illuminated totem signs, banner systems and strip lighting in the roof panels. The newly-installed lighting elements tie in with the building’s main fascia lighting’s colour-change capabilities, to create a diverse and dynamic entrance feature.

Marks & Spencer Anniesland



In continuation of our longstanding successful relationship with Marks & Spencer, we recently manufactured and installed new-branding external signage at their Anniesland store in Glasgow. This consisted of halo-illuminated main fascia signage, trolley shelter vinyl and window display units.

London Bridge Station 



This is an ongoing project to roll out the station’s new wayfinding programme, consisting of very high quality signage featuring architectural stainless steel construction. Suspended customer information screens combined with platform numbers are spaced out on each platform, with each one having its own design due to the wave canopy from which they are all suspended. Therefore no two structures are the same and each needs its own design development.

Click here to take a closer look at our project portfolio.


A festive message from Merson Group


CEO of Merson Group Roddy Angus reflects on an extremely busy 2015, looks ahead to 2016 and shares his festive message:

2015 has been a colourful year! Lots of highs and, thankfully, not too many lows. Where to begin? Probably with our biggest news – the acquisition of ASG (Ace Signs Group). They were a highly respected competitor for a number of years so when the opportunity arose for ASG to become part of Merson Group we jumped at the chance.


This means Merson Group now has fully operational sites in Glasgow, Basildon and Luton, supported by our own wholly-owned manufacturing plant in Poland and a UK national coverage fitting resource. These resources house the Merson Team which now totals 400 experienced staff. Business integration is never easy but we are pleased with progress after 4 months and with the combined service offering that is emerging.

So what has been happening elsewhere in the Group? A very brief summary -

  • Signage - many high profile projects delivered in retail, banking, airports, rail and highways
  • Architectural Facades - extended offering combining ASG’s extruded facades with the existing CGL branded products
  • Design - we have added the retail design offering ‘NEU Creative’ to our MSD design consulting division
  • Point of Sale - the new Luton base is working well and helping deliver new business
  • Gutters - our membrane-lined gutters business significantly increased its market share

Our clients’ needs are always at the forefront of everything we do. With this in mind a detailed study of our product and service base has led to the creation of a new and unique offer that we believe can add value to your business. This will be launched early in 2016 and will also be showcased at Retail Design Expo at Olympia on 9th and 10th March. We look forward to seeing many of you there.

We hope 2015 has been a good year for you, and that 2016 holds a lot of promise for your own business. The main purpose of this post is to thank you for the business this year and assure you we never stop working hard and innovating to ensure we are the company you want to do business with in the future.

Wishing you all the best in 2016

Roddy Angus

Merson Group CEO

* Image courtesy of The Herald*


Roddy Angus
Merson Group CEO
Merson Group
Meet the Team: An Interview With Gavin McMurray

With a career spanning over 25 years in the signage industry – Sales and Marketing Director Gavin McMurray has witnessed some radical changes to the products and services offered to Merson’s customers. We sat down with Gavin recently, and asked for his thoughts on the past, present and future of signage.


Tell us about your role at Merson Group


I look after the sales and marketing function for the Group, across our many diverse Group businesses. I am excited about how we can connect the various related businesses within the Group to provide some unique joined up offers to the marketplace – watch this space!

Where do you fit in to the wider project delivery team?


When it comes to project delivery my role, and that of the Sales and Key Account Team, is to be the customer’s representative – to look after their interests and ensure they get what they expect when they expect it. Thankfully this is an easy task due to the vast capability and experience of everyone on the delivery side of the business!



You have helped deliver many national rebrands over the years. What is the most challenging part of working on these large-scale projects?


Programme slippage is probably the most frequent culprit – the thing that makes a tricky job even trickier. At Merson we realise that this is the unfortunate reality when you are working with large business with multiple stakeholders in markets that are more fluid than ever. We have to understand that our customers have many constraints placed upon them and ever-changing needs so if they need to change mid-stream we need to be dynamic enough to respond to that reality and deliver – rather than moaning about programme delays.

Merson Group recently completed the acquisition of ASG in what was a very big move in the industry. Tell us more about the acquisition and what will this mean for your customers.


In a nutshell everything that is great about merson and everything that is great about ASG. The complimentary fit of the two businesses is fantastic – definitely a case of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts.

Which is the most interesting project you have worked on over the past 12 months?


That’s like asking me to choose between my children! Believe me each one brings its own set of challenges, the best reward being when the client tells us we have fulfilled the brief 100%.


You have been working in the sign industry for over 25 years, what has changed the most in that time?


The amount of grey hair I have. The three most significant changes are the advent of vinyl letter cutting machines in the 80s, the rise of digital printing in the 90s and the wholesale switch to LED lighting in the noughties.



Looking ahead over the next 5 years, what is coming up that clients might not be aware of?


Sustainability is going to creep up everyone’s agenda – and rightly so. This will have a greater impact than many people imagine and be about much more than just changing to new materials. Design, manufacturing process and project delivery method will all make significant contributions, as will closer design and working partnerships with interfacing contractors. Nothing stands still – and nothing is ever new!


Merson nominated for Rail Industry Award


We’re delighted to announce that Merson has been nominated for Sub-Contractor of the Year Award at the 2016 UK Rail Industry Awards.

The Rail Industry Awards has developed a reputation as one of the premier events in the rail industry and attracts many prominent individuals to participate in the evening’s proceedings; this year features a keynote speech from Phil Hufton, Network Rail’s MD of Network Operations.

We were nominated for the Sub-Contractor of the Year category by virtue of our involvement in the St. Pancras station re-development. Design company Portland Design were commissioned by High Speed 1 and Network Rail to review and recommend wayfinding signage improvements at St. Pancras. Part of these improvements was to address the existing sign box construction design to make it a more economical product. 



Our remit was to develop a new wayfinding scheme for the station including the design of all symbols and pictograms, and also to aid the development and prototyping of the new sign box design for the station, before carrying out the implementation of the new signage across the station. 

The UK Rail Industry Awards will take place on the 11th of February 2016 so watch this space for an update on how we get!

For more information on our St. Pancras project, check out the case study here.


Project in Focus: Church Street Market

We recently completed the construction design, manufacture and installation of two 7-metre high totems at Church Street Market in London, situated at either end of the market premises. This was part of a scheme to generally improve the surrounding area and evoke more of a vibrant, community feel.


Description of project:


• We were tasked with carrying out construction design development based on a concept provided by architects Lacock Gullam. It was our job to carry out the manufacture and installation of both totems.

• Our brief from the client, Westminster City Council, was to exactly match the concept design, which we achieved in full. We were given the freedom to change the internal structure to suit as long as the externals remained true to the original design.

• The construction had to achieve a number of difficult and sometimes conflicting things. This design consisted of very fine tolerances in a very large structure, which then had to be built in a modular form for transportation to site for local assembly.

• The external steel cladding panels are shot-peened (similar to sandblasting but utilising tiny ball bearings) to build up a durable and attractive matte finish. In order to achieve this without distorting the panels, they had to be shot-peened evenly and progressively on both sides to keep the material balanced and avoid warping.

• The LED-illuminated individual squares ‘tiles’ are comprised of a glass face panel. These had to be held in place with a minimal trim, with no visible means of fixing. The letters on these panels are engraved and then in-filled black, with coloured vinyl to the rear.

• The totems were constructed in kit form to ease transport, and were assembled onsite prior to installation.


Scope of involvement


• We carried out the construction design development, manufacture and installation of both totems, working closely with the client to ensure we turned their initial concepts into workable solutions.

Innovative Elements/Particular Challenges


• A challenging aspect was the extent and grade of shot-peening desired, something not straightforward to get right on such large surface areas. This went through an extensive sampling process with the client in order to obtain the right finish. 

• Transporting the signage to site and carrying out assembly and installation in a confined streetscape was also logistically challenging, as was the complex interface with piled base-work and power supply posts.

Technology Employed


• We utilised shot-peening for both the stainless steel cladding and mild steel structure. A special method of LED lighting was used, which involved void lighting to provide even-ness and avoid any hot-spots. 

Click here to find out more.




Merson Highly Commended by BSGA
We’re delighted to announce that Merson has been recognised by BSGA with three Highly Commended certificates. The first was for our work with Halifax in the category of ‘Roll-Out Programme of the Year’, and two more for our involvement with British Land Retail Parks under the headings of ‘Retail Signage of the Year’ and ‘Wayfinding Scheme of the Year’.

British Land Retail Parks




Building on our previous successes of providing signage schemes for retail parks, we worked closely with top London designers Portland Design on the technical design and construction methods required for their unique family of signs for British Land’s retail parks. Prior to the development of these wayfinding totems, all the individual British Land retail parks had their own type of signage and therefore lacked a uniform design. The remit for this project was to develop a signage concept that would provide consistent branding across all British Land’s retail parks.

Halifax




We were tasked with delivering innovative new brand signage for Halifax and were contracted to provide upgraded signage packages at over 350 branches across the UK, over an 18-month period. We collaborated closely and had many sessions with M Worldwide to come up with the best direction and design for the new signage. Some branches received a light upgrade consisting of a brand refresh, while others were given a full upgrade, with their signage replaced and refurbished on both the interior and exterior of the branch.


Here’s what our clients had to say about our performances in these rewarding projects;


“British Land were thrilled with our concept design for their retail park signage but next came the major challenge of finding someone who could turn our challenging concept into reality. Merson Signs quickly emerged as the preferred delivery partner due to their construction design expertise, can-do attitude and responsiveness. Our selection proved to be the correct one when Merson delivered the first retail park with the new signage - identical to our concept visuals. This is one of the most rewarding things a designer can see and our client, British Land, was equally impressed with the finished product.”

Christine Dunmore
Director
Portland Design

 
“Working with Merson on the development of the new Halifax high street branding was a really engaging and productive process. Being able to literally “play” in our studio with lighting, materials and forms led to new design ideas and resulted in the suite of solutions that were ultimately adopted. The concave Halifax fascia is piece of design work we are particularly proud of and is one of the best looking fascia on the high street today.”

Mike Heanue
M Worldwide
Halifax retail designers for Lloyds Banking Group


Click below for full project details:

Halifax 

British Land


Merson delighted to help Tesco and Childhood Cancer Awareness
This week we were delighted to help our client Tesco raise awareness of a very important cause. Our installers visited the Tesco Metro store in St Thomas Street, Weymouth on Monday evening to add gold chevrons and a gold ribbon to the external store signage. 

This temporary signage will stay in place throughout September to mark and raise awareness of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and the fundraising efforts of store manager Justin Kline.

Earlier in the year Justin lost his eight-year-old daughter Sophie to a brain tumor and is planning a number of events to raise money for Julia’s House Children’s Hospice. This includes a 100km walk where he will visit 33 Tesco stores in just 24 hours!

In light of what is such a fantastic cause we were more than happy to work on this project free-of-charge. On behalf of everyone at Merson we wish Justin and the Team at Tesco Weymouth the best of luck during their fundraising efforts.

If you would like to find out more and donate please visit: justgiving.com/justins100kmwalk or text JHOU53 with a pound sign and the amount you wish to donate to 70070.

Product in Focus - British Land Totems

Building on our previous successes providing signage schemes for retail parks, Merson Signs worked closely with top London designers Portland Design on the technical design and construction methods required for their unique family of signs for British Land’s retail parks. Prior to the development of these wayfinding totems, all British Land retails parks had their own type of signage and thus lacked a uniform design, so the remit for this project was to develop a signage concept that would provide consistent branding across all British Land’s retail parks.

Initially, the signage’s organic shape and other client-specified requirements proved difficult to achieve; it was only by working with Portland and a GRP manufacturer that we were able to develop effective solutions. As well as successfully reproducing the sign’s dynamic appearance and feature illumination, we engineered cost-effectiveness and simplicity into the construction design to make it commercially deliverable.

The signs’ outer shells are formed in GRP (Glass Reinforced Plastic) – arriving at our factory in component for assembly alongside the other constituent parts. While the majority are internally lit, a number of the sign types are externally lit. The internally illuminated panels are polycarbonate held in place by a custom-manufactured gasket, providing an extremely secure fitting, yet enabling easy change-over of face panels when the need arises.
For ease of installation of the larger signs the structure was designed to accommodate a central pole running vertically inside the sign, with a removable lifting eye, used during installation to easily crane the totems into place.

These innovative features and many others allowed us to realise Portland’s design vision and deliver a unique signage scheme for British Land suited to cost-effective volume manufacture and installation.