Leisure & Hospitality: How Signage Enhances the Customer Experience

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The leisure and hospitality sector is one of the largest industries in the UK. It covers a wide array of businesses and venues, from restaurants and bars to tourism, sports centres and casinos.

One of the hardest challenges in the sector is keeping up with, and responding to ever-changing consumer preferences. Today, these preferences are shaped by the continuous evolution of technology and a shift towards personalisation and inclusivity.

Now, leisure and hospitality no longer just offer services - they offer experiences.

So, where does signage come in?

In the leisure and hospitality industry, first impressions are everything - and signage plays a huge part in this. Signage is not only decorative but is a functional component that enhances the communication, navigation, and comfort of a customer’s journey.

From greeting the customer, providing navigational guidance, and creating a cohesive branded environment, signage plays a vital role in seeing the customer through their journey from start to finish.

Brand Storytelling

And what’s a journey without a story? Effective signage uses design elements and textual cues to create a cohesive and compelling brand narrative. A well-designed story will be threaded throughout each touchpoint of the customer journey, from the entrance sign to the interior wayfinding.

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A visitor, customer, or worker within a venue will need to feel inspired and connected with the surroundings.

A great example of this is Astley's award-winning work at Anglo-Saxon Museum and Whisky Distillery for Ad Gefrin. The main objective of the signage and ambient graphics was to complement the architecture and represent the history of the venue and brand. This was achieved through a variety of exterior, interior, and wayfinding elements made from a combination of timber and stone.

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The intricate Celtic design was woven throughout each signage element and reflected the brand's rich heritage throughout the whole customer experience, from the Ad Gefrin roundel mounted on the external wall as a focal point to the museum to the wayfinding totems.

This inspires curiosity in not only the natural surroundings but also the cultural background of the visitor centre itself.

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Wayfinding & Accessibility

Hotels, casinos, leisure centres and more all face a similar challenge within their spaces – indoor navigation. Alleviating wayfinding anxiety throughout these environments is key in creating a comfortable and positive customer experience, and can be done so through effective and considerate wayfinding signage.

Strategic placement is fundamental to creating a seamless journey throughout a venue. Intuitive wayfinding signage should be placed at regular intervals and should show clear, concise directions that simplify complex areas.


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Not only should effective wayfinding help to navigate a space but it should also reinforce a brand’s visual identity. Using consistent colours, logos, fonts and design helps to strengthen a brand’s presence and make wayfinding elements easily recognisable to the customer.

Braille and tactile signage are also crucial in creating an environment that is comfortable and accessible to everyone. Featuring raised braille text, symbols, and high-contrast colours, this inclusive signage allows maps and wayfinding assets to be understood by colour and touch.

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Technology Integration

With the rapid development of technology, customer experiences are expected to be faster, easier, and more personalised.

Mobile technology is now elevating the wayfinding experience within the sector, with spaces such as hotels and museums using mobile apps to bridge the gap between physical and digital wayfinding. These mobile apps can offer real-time navigational assistance and a wealth of supplementary information that enhances the overall customer experience.

As well as mobile apps, digital signage can also act as key components throughout venues, allowing for instant information updates and personalised content.

At Astley, we appreciate these ever-changing developments and are proud to be able to support customers with digital signage solutions. From outdoor totems to window displays and interactive touchscreens, we can offer digital hardware that is ideal for a variety of environments.

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And so...

Like in any other industry, customer needs and expectations are continuously changing in the leisure and hospitality sector.

From accessible signage to seamless wayfinding schemes and immersive brand storytelling, there are so many elements that can contribute to the overall customer experience. What's important is not to underestimate the power of signage and how it can heavily influence a branded environment by the way we choose to, or choose not to, use it.

At Astley, our vast experience in multiple sectors means that we offer expert levels of consultancy on how to create these unique and highly bespoke spaces.

Fully supported by in-house design, prototyping, surveying and auditing, mixed media workshops, fabrication, digital print and vinyl application services and all backed by industry accreditations, the resource and capacity we offer for branding projects of all sizes is unrivalled.

For more information and support with your own branded environments, contact enquires@astley-uk.com or visit our website www.astley-uk.com

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Leisure & Hospitality: An Immersive Customer Experience

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The leisure and hospitality sector is incredibly dynamic, covering all kinds of venues from hotels and restaurants to amusement parks, holiday resorts and sports centres.

Without even realising, signage plays a huge part in our experiences at these venues. Not only do signs guide and inform visitors, but they also shape the environment and create an immersive experience from the get-go.

Effective signage in these settings is crucial to the overall customer experience, from the entrance through to the exit.

Branding & Consistency

Consistency is key across any brand’s estate. The uniform use of colours, fonts, and logos across all signage is crucial to reinforcing a brand’s identity and creating a cohesive visual experience.

For example, a successful hotel signage scheme will welcome and immerse customers into an environment that encompasses the brand's vision. Whether that is a stylish boutique hotel or a modern hotel franchise, the signage will reflect the style and personality of the brand throughout the customer journey, from the reception area to the wayfinding scheme.


Wayfinding

Leisure and hospitality facilities can be vast and complex, making it easy for visitors to get lost and disorientated. An often overlooked element of signage, wayfinding allows customers to navigate their way seamlessly through these venues.

As well as fulfilling its functional role by providing directional instructions, well-designed wayfinding can enhance the aesthetics of the environment and foster a positive experience through a strong brand identity.

Good signage reduces confusion and frustration. Excellent signage reduces confusion while also ensuring consistency and immersing visitors in a branded experience. Our in-house design studio at Gateshead is ideally placed to design wayfinding schemes for clients and fully understand the art of navigation design, as they are highly experienced in translating these spaces from concept to completion.

Enhancing Visitor Experience

Many brands are now starting to differentiate themselves by offering something unique with the way they design their property and its signage. Instead of focusing solely on function, brands are implementing features that add a touch of personalisation and character to transform their environment into something memorable. The hotel reception, for example, gives the first impression for guests and sets the tone for the rest of their stay. Crafting the artistic vision and detail of this space is crucial in making a stay unforgettable, and ultimately, in encouraging return visits.

From vibrant murals and neon lettering to immersive wayfinding schemes or interactive screens, these assets are so effective in creating an inviting atmosphere and reflecting a brand’s messaging.


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Astley’s Expertise

In February of 2024, Astley were awarded Gold for Rollout of the Year at the Sign & Wrap Awards for our work on Leonardo Hotels. This extensive program encompassed the complete rebranding of 30 hotels across the UK from the Jurys Inn brand to Leonardo Hotels.

This project highlighted the importance of ensuring brand consistency across each hotel and across various substrates in order to achieve a cohesive and solid branded estate.

It was vital that the proposed designs were sympathetic to the style of the architecture and surroundings, but also that they didn’t stray too far from the old branding. It was also crucial to ensure colour matching across multiple substrates, such as acrylic, print and powdercoating. Prototyping was therefore an essential stage of this design process as it allowed us to support Leonardo’s with their rebrand, from our sample showroom to the final outcome.

At Astley, we are passionate about providing a thorough and highly detailed service. Our highly efficient production services are complimented by our in-house design and creative services, offering clients an additional resource to conceptualise, plan and design signage programmes.

Specialising in design, fabrication, print and digital, we continue to test the limits of what signage can really be, from the hospitality sector and beyond.

To learn more about how we can help with your branding solutions, click here.


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2024: The Year So Far

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It’s been a busy start to the year at Astley, and as we head further into 2024, we want to reflect on what has been achieved by #teamastley.

From completing some fantastic projects, attending the Sign & Wrap Awards (and coming away with a few new awards!) and publishing our Net Zero roadmap, #teamastley has proven their commitment to excellence within the signage industry.

Busy, busy, busy!

Astley has been busy completing various amazing works across both production facilities in Gateshead and Kettering.

Our presence within the grocery retail sector is as strong as ever, having successfully delivered a new store format for Sainsbury’s in Southport in February!

Covering 44,710 sq. ft, the supermarket required an abundance of branded assets, from the store interior through to the car park. We worked closely with their in-house teams and appointed designers / architects to value manufacture their brand graphics including internally illuminated lettering, totem signs, window graphics, internal graphics, aisle directories and EV signage, with fantastic results.

On the PFS side of the business, our work with Texaco, Valero has had an astonishing start to the year with an average of 4 sites being manufactured and installed each week! Not to mention the development of the JET Charge EV concept work. We are so thrilled to see these ambitious programmes flying through the facilities and they show no signs of slowing down any time soon.

From multi-location rollouts to highly bespoke installations and PFS brand implementation, we are leaving no stone unturned!

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Time for Celebrations

February was a highlight for Astley as we attended the 2024 Sign & Wrap Awards, coming away with four awards! We were so proud to achieve Gold in Architectural for Ad Gefrin, Gold in Rollout for Leonardo Hotels of the Year, Best in Show across 7 signage categories, and Highly Commended for Sign Company of the Year.

Gold in Architectural - It was a pleasure to be recognised for our work on the Ad Gefrin Distillery as this project truly highlighted Astley’s expertise as a creative production partner, having combined contemporary skills with traditional signmaking techniques to produce such complex and beautiful pieces. This is a testament to our incredible workforce and the level of craftsmanship that goes into our projects.

Gold in Roll-out - Our journey alongside Leonardo Hotels was also a huge testament to our ability to successfully deliver extensive programmes, having rebranded a total of 30 hotels across the UK. This project required high levels of planning and attention to detail, as well as a tolerance for heights!


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ISO Recertification

We were delighted to have again passed our ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 recertifications in April, as well as our BS EN 1090 for our structural steel working standards. We are dedicated to providing our clients with the continued assurance of our commitment to the ISO certifications, delivering quality and environmental management standards.

It’s vital to recognise the importance of these accreditations as they not only signify a testament to an organisation’s quality and environmental processes, but they also provide a competitive edge in the marketplace by instilling confidence in clients and brand partners.

A huge well done to our HSQE Manager, Justin Farley , and the whole of #teamastley for their hard work and commitment to consistent, high-quality standards.

What a Milestone!

In March, we were thrilled to have been one of the first signmakers to have published their Net Zero Roadmap.

Since embarking on our net zero journey in 2022, we have been committed to taking considerable steps towards reducing our carbon footprint. Having now completed our base line assessments for Scope 1 and 2 (Scope 3 for grey fleet), we were proud to launch a net zero roadmap and decarbonisation strategy which outlines our commitment to reviewing how we will work towards achieving our target by 2040.

It’s a long journey, but we are so proud to see the road ahead to more sustainable business practices, and ultimately, a more sustainable future.

ESG Activities

In April, we had a brilliant day at the Better Health at Work Event in Chopwell Wood, Gateshead, where we shared our efforts in improving employee wellbeing and celebrated the achievements of other Gateshead-based companies.

From networking to wellness walks and archery (the fan favourite!), this day was so valuable for the sharing of ideas and health initiatives, especially as we work towards our Silver Award!

(Watch the video here.)

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We've also enjoyed celebrating national awareness days such as Employee Appreciation Day (with treats for the staff) and International Womens Day. It's so important that we celebrate the expertise and dedication #teamastley continue to demonstrate in this industry.

And so...

Astley has started 2024 as we mean to go on – full steam ahead! Having reflected on the year and the achievements so far, it goes without saying that the efforts of #teamastley are unmatched. Astley is not just a brand, it is a community of fantastic talent who continue to push the definition of signage, signmaking and what it can really be.

Here’s to the rest of 2024 (and beyond!)

For more information and support with your own branded environments, contact enquires@astley-uk.com or visit our website www.astley-uk.com

And be sure to follow our other social channels for snippets of what we get up to:

Tiktok / Instagram / Youtube / LinkedIn

Navigating the FMCG Sector: The Signage Trends of 2023

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The FMCG (Fast-Moving Consumer Goods) sector is one of the largest in the UK economy. With its rapid product turnover and intense competition, the industry demands consistent innovative solutions to capture ever-changing consumer preferences. The post-Covid landscape has changed the way in which we buy and consume goods, providing both challenges and opportunities for grocery retail.

Signage plays a huge part in guiding consumers through this landscape. Not only does it direct you through the store, but signage also helps to create an immersive branded environment and experience.

At Astley, we have the pleasure of working with some huge grocery retailers, including Asda, Sainsbury's, and Co-op. Whether it's a brand new development or a rebrand of an existing site, we have assisted with the planning and visualisation of store environments, offering years of expertise in brand implementation.

So, what trends have we seen in 2023?

Concessions

With the rise in online retail and click-and-collect shopping, it has become imperative for grocers to focus on ways to bring customers back into the physical store. Supermarket concessions have proved to be a good method for repurposing large supermarket sites, as they not only help to boost store footfall and profitability for the main grocer but also increase footfall for the concession brand.

The most popular concession over the past few years has been food and drink, with the biggest grocers establishing partnerships with names such as Costa Coffee, Starbucks, Pret A Manger and more. Introducing well-known and loved brands encourages shoppers into the store as they are familiar with the product and can purchase it in a convenient setting.

Most recently, a market that is now popping up in retailers is homeware and DIY, with Tesco having partnered up with Homebase and Asda with B&Q. By integrating well-known homeware and DIY brands, these supermarkets enhance their appeal as lifestyle hubs rather than just places to buy groceries.

A partnership we are incredibly proud of is with Sainsbury's, who we have been supporting for over 20 years now with their brand graphics, managing rebrand and refresh programmes and seasonal campaign work across their UK sites. Since their acquisition of Argos back in 2016, Astley has had the pleasure of completing the works for not only their Sainsbury's branding but also for their Argos concessions.

Experiential Environments

The introduction of spaces such as concessions has transformed the everyday mundanity of grocery shopping and pushed the concept of experiential environments. By creating a community-centric space in which customers can browse, linger and even dine, this turns the somewhat chore of shopping into that of an experience.

A great example of a project we recently worked on that embraced this experiential approach, is the new Food Hub concept in Asda stores. We had the pleasure of installing the signage for this new concession space, in which customers can now purchase pizza, coffee, and other grab-and-go products. By also implementing fast-food style touch screen tablets, this makes for not only a quick and efficient service but also provides a new and exciting way to browse and buy in-store.

Sustainability

A huge buzzword in any industry, sustainability is just as prevalent in the FMCG sector. According to research, one in five shoppers say they have acquired more sustainable habits since the pandemic began. With this increased demand for socially responsible products and practices, recent FMCG initiatives have put a critical focus on sustainable labelling, sustainable sourcing, and even renewable energy.

Astley was beyond proud to embrace renewable energy as a result of the onboarding of a fantastic new client - Central England Co-op UK. Earlier this year, we were so excited to have installed the first solar-powered totem of Central Co-op's estate in Streethay. Solar-powered totems represent not only a forward-thinking approach to sustainability, but also offer a practical and cost-efficient solution that remains visually appealing.

The totem, with its subtle and sleek design, allowed for the solar panels to blend seamlessly into the structure – so much so, you can hardly tell it’s solar-powered!

And so...

The post-covid landscape has brought with it changes in consumer preferences and market trends, changing what people buy to how they buy it and where from. With the rise of e-commerce especially, this has called for industries like the FMCG sector to react and adapt to these changes.

From concessions and experiential environments to the topic of sustainability, signage has an important role in all of these. By enticing people into store, immersing them into an environment, and telling a visual story about a brand, signage has proven to be pivotal in responding to ever-changing trends. Now, we look forward to seeing what 2024 will bring...

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The Great North Run: 10 Years in the Running

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The Great North Run brought another summer season to a close for Astley, with an incredible weekend filled with astounding achievements and a strong sense of community that makes us proud to be local to the North East.

Each year, 60,000 runners gather to run the 13.1 mile route from Newcastle to South Shields in bids to beat personal bests, in aid of a fantastic array of charities, and in an effort to just be a part of something great.

But why was it so special for us in 2023?

With 2023 marking the 42nd year of the iconic half marathon, it also marked the 10th year of Astley installing signage onto the iconic Tyne Bridge. Each year our experienced and skilled workforce is challenged both physically and technically when undertaking the prestigious Great North Run sign, and from the planning through to installation, it is an incredible feat.

The GNR Sign

We are always so proud to be responsible for the sign that is a symbol of not only the power of running, but also a symbol of sheer determination and the strength of community within the North East. Each year it is an incredible achievement to see the sign take centre stage as it overlooks the Quayside and brings with it a sense of anticipation.

Working closely with Newcastle City Council and Gateshead Council, our teams at Astley ensure that the structural design and all elements of health and safety are of the highest quality prior to installation.

The logistics of traffic management when fixing the sign on the bridge is a challenge in itself, with the bridge having to complete lane closures throughout the night over a 5-day period. Using high-level access equipment, our brave crew then face heights of 16.5 metres to reach the first fixing points - a task not for the faint-hearted!

#TeamAstley taking part in the Great North Run

We are so proud of our teams as they not only take on the challenge of installing the monumental sign, but also take part in the race itself. Each year, we love to see familiar faces in the crowd as they cross the finish line, and this year was no different.

George and Martin both ran in aid of our chosen charity of the year, Cancer Research UK, and raised an incredible £1,828 between them!

George said:

“Supporting such a great cause like Cancer Research meant so much to me as I ran in memory of my late grandad who passed earlier this year. The atmosphere was like something I’ve never experienced before – it was electric throughout the whole run, with people from Newcastle and all over the UK coming to show their support." 

The Great Run Company

As well as being responsible for the Tyne Bridge sign each year, Astley had the pleasure of manufacturing and installing the building signage for the Great Run company at their head office by the Tyne Bridge.

We are proud to be in partnership with such an esteemed local business, especially as The Great Run Company champions sustainability with the same vigour and passion as we do, as they ensure that the efforts they undertake are 'engaged in a way that is meaningful and has long-term sustainability at its heart.'

As a manufacturing company that focuses greatly on its Net Zero long-term targets and carbon emission goals, Astley is thrilled to continue cultivating this local partnership with an organisation that shares our environmental values.

And so, with yet another triumphant race under wraps for one more year, we want to say another huge well done to all those involved in every aspect of the grand event.

We are always incredibly proud to play a small part each year, and with 2023 marking a decade of Astley signage installations on the Tyne Bridge, we look forward to seeing what the next decade will bring...

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Sustainability: A Critical Focus


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Sustainability has grown into a critical focus across the globe in recent years, becoming a buzzword within most industries. In a landscape where sustainability has become a global priority, the urgent need to adopt eco-friendly practices is now more important than ever.

At Astley, we take pride in our eco-friendly practices and ensure that as a UK manufacturer, we are conscious of our environmental impact. Having started our Net Zero journey in 2022, we are dedicated to continually improving our processes and playing our part in the global efforts to mitigate the impacts of man-made climate change.

It’s important to note the difference between Net Zero and Carbon Neutrality, having seen that the two terms are often misconstrued. While carbon neutrality concentrates solely on greenhouse gas removals in the form of purchased offsets to balance the emissions produced, Net-zero comprises a comprehensive approach of 90% absolute greenhouse gas emission reduction and offsetting the remaining 10% of emissions at the net-zero date and onwards.

As a manufacturer, we aim to reach our Net Zero target by 2040.

Having also celebrated Plastic Free July last month, we wanted to highlight the importance of introducing high-quality sustainable substrates into the signage industry, as well as remaining vigilant of waste and energy use.

So, what steps have we taken?

Astley is always striving to implement sustainable practices at every step of our production process – from the procurement process through to final installation. We are dedicated to introducing high-quality sustainable substrates, creating less waste, and lowering our carbon footprint - and we always encourage our staff to consciously uptake any proactive initiatives.

Material Selection

Relying on materials such as vinyl, plastics, and other non-recyclable materials can lead to significant environmental impacts. By embracing sustainability practices, we can help to minimise these adverse effects and reduce the industry’s ecological footprint.

Astley is always searching the market for new sustainable alternatives, without compromising quality or creativity. From eco-friendly acrylics and recycled aluminium to an array of card-based materials, we have established a variety of sustainable materials that act as quality alternatives to virgin materials.

Considering the growing problem of plastic pollution (with the UK using about 5 million tonnes of plastic each year), we are always making conscious decisions to lessen our plastic consumption, having introduced PVC-free vinyls and plastic-free foam PVC to our substrate selection. Not only is it better for the environment, but it is also the more cost-effective choice in the long run.

We also have an array of card-based materials that could be used in place of plastics, including Ultraboard, Xanita, and Libra Display Board.

Recycling & Waste Reduction

It is estimated that more than 80% of non-recyclable signage ends up in landfill. By adopting sustainable practices, signage companies can reduce waste as well as conserve resources. Astley is proud to be a zero-to-waste-to-landfill supplier, whereby we are committed to diverting all waste from landfill disposal by recycling, reusing, and recovering energy from leftover materials.

A great example of this is our new creative meeting room at our site in Kettering, which was produced from a variety of recycled offcuts and in-house surplus materials. Boasting a contemporary peg board feature wall and a completely recycled custom table, this room is a testament to Astley’s commitment to sustainability.

Renewable Energy

We are also proud to work with solar energy, having recently supported Central Co-op with the first solar-powered totem of their estate.

This is a rapidly developing market, with new media and methodologies introduced daily, and allows the opportunity to achieve high-quality illumination while being cost-effective and adherent to Net Zero ambitions.

ISO 14001

In accordance with our ISO 14001, we work with our suppliers and clients on the sustainability of products. This international standard ensures that we continually monitor and seek to reduce our environmental impact, from our waste management to our resource use and efficiency.

Not only does this certification help to comply with environmental regulations, but it also provides a focus for employees, managers, and suppliers to embed environmental thinking at the heart of business strategy.

We also continue to ensure that the commitments of our supply chain also align with our own environmental efforts. It is vital that we factor sustainability, environmental and social impacts into our procurement process, understanding the potential impact that annual spend has on the environment.

And so...

Ultimately, sustainability is not just a buzzword; it is a responsibility that every industry must shoulder. Sign makers have the potential to pioneer change within the manufacturing industry, by embracing sustainable alternatives, recycling processes, and efficient energy use. Sustainability - rather than a destination - is a journey, and the best we can do is take conscious steps toward making the planet a greener place.

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From Apprentice to CNC Team Leader: The Value of Career Progression

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Not every destination is determined by one linear path. Multiple decisions and pathways can lead to the same outcome, there never is a right way.

The same can be applied to career progression. There is no longer just one straight-line approach to launching a career. There is a variety of routes available, from university degrees and traineeships to entry-level jobs and apprenticeships.

At Astley, we pride ourselves on providing apprenticeship schemes and developing the next generation of signage professionals, having introduced 12 apprentices to our team within the past 5 years.

Apprenticeships, often thought of as the less ‘traditional’ route, offer an alternative for young people to commence their careers. Fostering the development of hands-on skills and industry experience, apprenticeship programmes allow individuals to undergo training, all whilst earning a salary.

We decided to sit down with one of our graduated apprentices, Reece, and take a look at his journey so far – from apprentice to CNC team leader.

"The benefit of starting as an apprentice is earning a wage whilst you're developing your skills so by the end of your apprenticeship, you're a fully skilled worker"

Reece started his apprenticeship at Astley over 6 years ago, progressing to CNC machine operator, until recently becoming CNC Team Leader. He highlights the benefit of gaining valuable skills, and with the prevalence of the skills gap within the manufacturing industry, this is ever-relevant. Apprenticeships have the means to address these skills gaps and increase productivity, all whilst allowing individuals to develop their personal skills and knowledge in order to attain a rewarding career.

As manufacturers, we have noted a downturn in young people entering our industry. We believe that apprentices, with their hands-on nature and reskilling potential however, are one of the most effective solutions to begin bridging this skills gap and accumulating a dynamic workforce.

“I think there is a stigma about going down the apprenticeship route over university, as university seems to be the more traditional route. With an apprenticeship, you’re learning the job, developing your skills, and gaining experience.”

Careers that were once only accessible through higher education are now available to those wanting to take the apprenticeship route. Today, modern apprenticeships offer a unique opportunity to combine academic and vocational training, whilst also being employed full-time.

“There are lots of career progression opportunities [at Astley], going from apprentice and now to team leader."

Reece’s journey has highlighted the career opportunities that are available for apprentices like our own. Having already been working in their chosen field for several years before finishing their programme, apprentices have a higher chance of securing a good, relevant job by the end of their training.

Training and development has been instrumental in the overall business strategy of Astley since its inception. We recognise the importance of nurturing the talent of our youth; from the shopfloor and installation, through to finance and sales, we have seen an array of apprentices embrace and succeed in their chosen career path.

Apprenticeships aren’t necessarily something everyone can offer – but we believe they offer an incredibly valuable alternative for both companies and people wanting to start a career. What we need to ensure is that these alternatives are given a bigger platform in order to increase exposure and awareness of such career paths.

Everyone’s path looks different; as long as you know you are on the right one for you, you will always reach your end goal.

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Women in Manufacturing: Bridging the Skills Gap


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The term ‘manufacturing’ is often misperceived. It may paint an image of heavy-duty workmen, oily machines, and dangerous work environments. Although still male-orientated, this image has otherwise become obsolete. The manufacturing industry has become increasingly high-tech, safe, clean, and offers a wealth of career opportunities.

A demographic increasingly taking advantage of these opportunities is women. A much higher percentage of women are entering the manufacturing field, covering roles from the shopfloor and production to finance and design. However, there is still room for improvement. Although women represent almost half of the workforce in the UK, they account for only 26% of all workers in the manufacturing sector. As a manufacturer, Astley is passionate about helping to increase these numbers and tackle any industry misconceptions.

The current problem being faced by the manufacturing industry is the skills gap, with a lack of skilled workers available to fill technical roles. This is due to several reasons, including a decrease in apprenticeship starts (down 4.1% from 2022-23, versus the previous year), the ageing workforce, as well as continual technological changes calling for specialised skillsets. One way to tackle this problem is to encourage more women into manufacturing, and consequently bring an array of unique strengths and skills into the sector. Studies show that manufacturers can close the skills gap by 50% by bringing in 10% more women into the industry. This would address not only the skills gap but also the gender gap that is prevalent within the industry.

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She says:


“Traditionally women might not look into the manufacturing industry, but they would be pleasantly surprised at how interesting it is. When you look at what signage actually is, and what does go through the factory, it can be a very attractive industry for women. . . If you are a woman coming in and you’re super organised, it’s a brilliant industry to be in – all of manufacturing is brilliant, we just need to push the idea of [women being in the industry]”.

As Ruth indicates, manufacturing has been given a less-than-glamorous image. However, the recent growth of automation within the industry has opened an array of opportunities within the sector. From designers and operators to marketing, quality assurance, and logistics, there is a wealth of career paths to choose from and even interchange.

Women portray the largest pool of untapped talent for manufacturing. The need for women isn’t solely for numbers or to fill gaps – women consistently provide levels of creativity, empathy, organisation, an eye for detail, and the capacity for leadership. And now these skills can be applied to a variety of different areas.

Building awareness of the opportunities available to women within this sector is paramount in attracting diverse personnel. Diversity fosters creativity, introducing a wider lens of strategic thinking and an influx of innovative ideas.

“Because it is male-dominated, women might find a few challenges because they just don’t know where they would fit in. I don’t think they particularly see gender, what matters is whether you are good at your job. If you want something that is challenging, there are no barriers for entering manufacturing . . . [you] are welcome to open arms”.

Today, women have the potential to fit into a variety of roles. Modern manufacturing careers focus on more than just strength - they call for dexterity, innovation, and critical thinking. No longer is there a gender bias – the sole ambition is to be surrounded by the strongest and best team, regardless of gender. As long as you are passionate, success will follow.

Although the numbers are continuously improving, there is still a way to go in terms of closing the gap. It is clear that by increasing the percentage of female talent, there is an opportunity to promote both inclusive and sustainable economic growth.

Linda, the HR Manager at Astley, says:

"To continue enabling this growth, it is imperative that companies forge ahead with schemes to promote the onboarding of women. Fostering an inclusive culture, endorsing apprenticeships, and leading by example with women representatives, are all crucial to long-term success. Here at Astley, we are so proud to have some amazing women in our workforce and are always looking to further expand our female talent."

Manufacturing has a fantastic future – by identifying and tackling the misconceptions that the industry faces, we can begin to truly work toward closing the skills gap and unleash the full potential of female workforces in manufacturing. Women should be seated at the table, not just because they are women, but because they are good at what they do.


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Meet The Content Writer

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The beginning is a place that we all have been at various points in our lives: the beginning of a relationship, a move, or a new job. These moments mark the milestones of our lives and pinpoint our next steps; we collect a catalogue of beginnings that define our different chapters.

First Impressions

My most recent beginning saw my first week as a Bid & Content Writer at Astley. Based on the interviews and research into the company, I was more than excited to get accustomed to my new role. As a content writer, it is crucial to understand a company: how it’s organised, how it operates, but most importantly, how it feels. To capture a voice that best represents the brand, and all it stands for, is best done by experiencing it first-hand. So, Monday morning, I stepped into my new environment and welcomed an array of fresh faces.

It’s true that first impressions last. Adjusting to a new workplace, especially, is full of formalities and first impressions. What we tend to think about most, though, is how we ourselves are perceived. The responsibility of successful onboarding relies on both the employee and the employer; it is a two-way street. As much as you analyse the display of your own character, it is just as important to consider your own initial impression of your employer. People, values, product – these being just a handful of positive workplace factors that you should keep in mind and look out for when starting at a new job.

People

As a new starter at Astley, I laid a fresh pair of eyes on the company and its environment. Astley proved to be colourful not only in its branding, but also in its workforce and values. Although initially an outsider to the company, you are not treated as such - from the office to the factory floor, there is a discernible warmth from the Astley team. There is no doubt that people make up a huge part of our job satisfaction, and so a friendly environment was something that I valued greatly.

Value

Populated with individuals who are experts at their craft, the Astley team boasts an irrefutable talent; and their efforts are recognised. The atmosphere of the company is heightened by their undeniable focus on the workforce. The most striking element of the onboarding process was seeing the time and attention given to the team’s wellbeing, from the internal health initiatives to the volunteer health advocates. A core part of the company’s initiative is to highlight the workforce’s efforts, as they are “integral to [the] business”, and from the get-go, you have a sense that your input is being acknowledged, considered, and valued. Rather than feeling as though secondary, I felt instantly granted with trust and value from my co-workers. Inclusive in conversation and trusting in their staff; it is certain that the values held by Astley stand true.

Product

Not only do Astley have pride in their workforce, but they also have pride in their work. What stood out to me was the hands-on approach that Astley took to every aspect of the sign making process. The work that goes behind signage and graphics is no small feat. From consultancy, design, manufacture and installation – Astley puts in 110 per cent into their work. No stone is left unturned - even producing sample signs and mock store fronts for clients. The scale of the operations is huge, and yet, quality is not in absence. Working with brands as big as Sainsbury’s, Greggs, ASDA and JET, Astley has amassed a wealth of expertise within their industry – and it shows through the quality of their product and the efficiency of their operations.

CSR

Astley is not ignorant to its position as a manufacturer, either. The company places huge value on its social and ethical responsibilities, focusing on both environmental and charitable efforts. Not only have they become a zero-waste-to-landfill supplier, but they have also made a start on their Net Zero journey. The Astley team have also raised donations for organisations such as MacMillan Cancer Support and MIND, through a variety of fundraising activities and charity events.

These initiatives prove invaluable, especially speaking as a new recruit, as it demonstrates accountability and a proactive approach. As an employee, I feel engaged with Astley’s enthusiasm for a better workplace, as well as a better planet. This is indispensable in terms of brand perception, as it attracts the attention of potential clients, partners, and future employees.

All in all, it’s clear that Astley left an impression – one of positivity and purpose. And so, with this, I found what I was looking for. After the first week of my new beginning, I found Astley’s voice: one that emulates a level of warmth, pride, and value. I just hope the voice comes across as welcoming and enthusiastic as the team here at Astley!

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ISO Recertification


We are delighted to announce that Astley has excelled in passing the ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certifications again! We are dedicated to providing our clients with the continued assurance of our commitment to the ISO certifications, delivering quality and environmental management standards.

We would like to make a huge shoutout to our HSQE Manager, Justin Farley (and the wider team), for working hard behind the scenes to ensure Astley passed with flying colours. He really is one of our unsung heroes!

We look forward to another year of delivering a consistent and high-quality standard of work!

Read more on our range of services...

Our Net Zero Roadmap

We are proud to say we are now one of the first signmakers to be publishing a net zero roadmap with a commitment to achieving net zero by 2040.

Since embarking on our net zero journey in 2022, Astley has been committed to taking considerable steps towards reducing our carbon footprint.

With short term, medium and a long-term objectives, Astley has developed a robust plan to help address climate change and drive meaningful actions that will contribute to the end goal of becoming net zero.

Just as we became the first UK signmaker to become a zero-waste-to-landfill partner, we believe we are also leading the way in our approach to becoming net zero and ultimately, improving the world that we inhabit.

Discover more about our sustainability initiatives here...

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International Women’s Day 2024

 International Women’s Day 2024 

As it’s #InternationalWomensDay, we sat down with some of the women of Astley who provided their insights on working within the manufacturing industry.

As a manufacturer in a predominantly male industry, we are aware of the struggle in our sector to recruit and help support women’s career progression.

We pride ourselves in doing all we can to continue changing the landscape of women in manufacturing and challenging these stereotypes, and we couldn’t be more proud of our leading ladies at Astley!

Four awards at the 2024 Sign & Wrap Awards!

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Four awards at the 2024 Sign & Wrap Awards!

We are so proud to have been awarded 4 awards at the 2024 Sign & Wrap Awards!

- Gold for Ad Gefrin in Architectural
- Gold for Leonardo Hotels in Rollout
- Best in Show across 7 signage categories
- Highly Commended for Sign Company of the Year

The Architectural award, as well as the Best in Show award, celebrated Astley’s work on the Ad Gefrin Distillery project which wowed the judges with its use of natural materials and its complex craftsmanship. This project included the production of a variety of interior, exterior, and wayfinding signage products that complimented the architecture and reflected the history of the venue.

The judges loved the way that Astley shared all of the processes of the project, including the stages that went into the production of the Ad Gefrin roundel. From CNC routing to copper spraying, this focal piece went through several processes to make it into the impressive emblem that it is now.

Astley’s work on the rebrand of Jury’s Inn Hotels to Leonardo Hotels was also celebrated, earning a gold award in the rollout category. This extensive programme demonstrated Astley’s high level of planning and logistical support, having overseen the transformation of 32 hotels across the UK.

The judges noted Astley’s attention to detail and the way they had gone above and beyond to deliver the project successfully - even producing a bespoke sample wall to show the client how the signs would look when complete.

Well done to all the other winners and finalists and a huge thank you to the organisers at Sign & Wrap Awards for a fantastic night.

Most importantly, a huge thank you to #teamastley for all of their hard work and talent – it is thoroughly deserved and we are so proud!

Read more on our range of services...

We’re finalists in 4 categories!

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Two Weeks to Go!

We are incredibly pleased to announce we have been shortlisted in four categories at the 2024 Sign & Wrap Awards this year:

** Signage company of the Year **
** Roll-out Programme of the Year ** (for our work supporting Leonardo Hotels)
** Architectural Sign ** (for our work supporting Ad Gefrin)
** Interior Decor ** (for our work supporting Hornby)

We want to wish a huge congrats to #teamastley for being recognised for all your hard work, and we are now crossing our fingers for the event in February!

Good luck to the other superb sign companies shortlisted and we're looking forward to seeing some amazing work on the night.

Being shortlisted is a huge recognition of our team’s efforts, from our work on key accounts and more bespoke projects, to our ambitious CSR activities and sustainability focus. Regardless of the outcome, we are so proud of our team and their fantastic work!


Discover more clients we do work for...


The modern forecourt: How EV and retail have shaped the fuel station of today

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Once merely pit stops for refuelling, petrol filling stations (PFS) have undergone a significant transformation into dynamic retail hubs. The recent surge in electric vehicle (EV) adoption has provoked a shift in modern forecourts, reshaping the layout and prolonging the dwell time at stations. With this new change in forecourt landscape, there is now the opportunity to develop new retail concepts and provide experiential solutions to support the refuelling experience.

From petrol pumps to EV charging, grab-and-go eating to big retail concessions, the forecourts of today have seen a huge change. The rising demand for these additional amenities has led to the need for innovative branding solutions to help redesign and reimagine these forecourts of the future.

EV Charging

At Astley, we have had the pleasure of supporting EV brands with the establishment of their EV charging estates, including Fastned, BP, Jet, and MFG. As EVs continue to flood the market, and with the country expanding its charging infrastructure, forecourts are adapting their facilities to cater to the needs of EV drivers, who typically spend 30 to 40 minutes at the station during a charge.

Rather than service stations being a place to buy quick essentials, they are now becoming retail hubs in which customers can dine, shop, and relax. From grocery shopping to in-store dining, working spaces and postal services, the modern forecourt offers much more than just fuel. Consequently, PFS retail spaces are expected to expand to over 10,000 sq. ft, reinforcing the steady demand for signage solutions.

Concessions

This expansion of floor space in PFS retail spaces has paved the way for renowned food and beverage brands. Providers such as Starbucks, Burger King and Costa have taken advantage of this opportunity to convert extra dwell time into a relaxing sit-down experience.

Supermarket collaborations with fuel sites also allow customers to do their weekly grocery shop whilst charging their cars, with brands such as M&S becoming prominent at roadside destinations. From fast-food chains to major grocery retailers, the forecourt is evolving into a one-stop-shop for not only fuel, but for a wide array of consumer goods.

Astley’s expertise

As forecourts embrace EV charging and evolve into multifaceted retail destinations, signage plays a pivotal role in shaping the overall customer experience. For over a decade, we have been aiding petroleum brands with their branded graphics, working with global brands such as JET , Texaco, BP, and ESSO, as well as prominent grocery chains like Sainsbury’s and The Cooperative.

The demand for branding solutions is ever-present in today’s forecourt as the technology and facilities continue to evolve and customer preferences change. Given our unique position in which we work with PFS brands as well as FMCG clients, our expertise encompasses extensive knowledge of retail brands as well as forecourt operations.

Offering industry design solutions for full rebrands, refreshes, maintenance, painting, valet services and specialist installation, Astley is the perfect partner to help support with your PFS brand graphics, from the charging point through to the grocery checkout.

To learn more about how we can help with your branding solutions, click here.


The FMCG Sector: How Signage Can Influence Store Footfall

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As 2023 draws to a close, and the disruptions of Covid-19 begin to fade, the FMCG sector is starting to see a boost in on-premise retail. With the pandemic having initiated the surge of click-and-collect and online shopping, grocery retailers now need to focus on engaging customers and increasing footfall back to their brick-and-mortar stores.

The FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) sector, like many others, has experienced significant shifts in consumer behaviour over recent years. As we look towards a post-pandemic landscape, it is crucial to explore the ways in which retailers can reconnect with consumers in-store by elevating the shopping experience. Although price and product quality remain imperative, it is also incredibly relevant to create an interactive and memorable shopping experience.

Signage is instrumental in guiding customers through these environments. From digital interfaces to wayfinding schemes, it plays an important role in creating a streamlined supermarket experience that maximises efficiency and engagement.

Store design & wayfinding

Store layout and visual displays are vital to a seamless customer experience. Wayfinding signage – or the grocery store GPS - helps customers navigate their way through stores and find exactly what they are looking for. These elements include directional, informational, and identification signs that remain consistent in design and iconography.

These signs should immerse customers into the grocery experience, using experiential graphics that combine typography, colour, imagery, and technology, to guide people through the brand’s environment from the moment they enter the door.

Ensuring that this navigation system is effortless makes for a seamless shopping experience that reduces congestion and drives customer satisfaction. Navigation should focus on getting people in and out with their desired product in hand, but also encourage shoppers to dwell and flow into different areas of the store that they would not usually frequent.

Community-centric spaces

Experiential brand environments are driving forces in consumer involvement and retention, allowing brands to set themselves apart from competition in such a saturated industry. A recent grocerant business model is to transform the everyday mundanity of grocery shopping into one of experiential value, creating spaces which combine both the foodservice sector and the FMCG sector.

Creating various departments or ‘shops’ within a store is a popular way of keeping the environment fresh and engaging, such as a sushi bar, fruit and veg market, or even a small restaurant, all of which you can make into branded zones. This encourages customers to linger, dine, and seek their essential items all within the same commercial space.

A great example of this, and a project we recently worked on, is the new Food Hub concept areas introduced by Asda to increase store footfall. We had the pleasure of installing the signage for this new concession space, in which customers can now purchase pizza, coffee, and other grab-and-go products. Shoppers can place their orders on McDonald’s-style touch screen tablets, which makes for not only a quick and efficient service but also provides a new and exciting way to browse and buy in-store. This frictionless retail is the latest development in physical stores and uses technological advancements to create a grab-and-go experience without queues.

Keeping it fresh

In order to maintain levels of engagement within a branded environment, it is necessary to ensure experiential graphics do not remain stagnant. Changing and updating graphics, displays, and layout, helps to prevent ‘display fatigue’, in which customers begin to ignore signage that has been in place for a long duration of time.

Digital signage is great for keeping signage fresh, modern, and up-to-date. With its dynamic qualities, digital signage can be used to follow the latest trends, allowing you to update its messaging and imagery in real time. From digital screens and checkout signage to interactive touchscreens and digital menu boards, there is an array of assets that can be implemented to communicate with customers.

Astley’s expertise

With more business being done online, it is now more vital than ever for physical retailers to consider methods of enticing customers back into stores. Whether it is a brand new development or a refresh of a current site, Astley can assist with the planning and visualisation of store environments, having offered years of expertise in brand implementation.

We have had the pleasure of working with some huge names in the FMCG sector, including Sainsbury’s, Asda, and Co-op. From built-up lettering externals and car park signage to branded wayfinding and ambient graphics, we are the perfect partner to help create an immersive shopping experience from the car park to the checkout.

To learn more about how we can help with your brand environment, please click here

A New Look For Nationwide!


We are delighted to have started the rebrand of Nationwide Building Society, as they overhaul their identity for the first time in 36 years!

Featuring a fresh icon that paints the familiar house in front of the rising sun, the new logo boasts a design that is modern yet familiar.

This new branding has been a pleasure from manufacture to install, and we can’t wait to transform further sites!

Discover more clients we do work for...

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Welcome Specsavers!

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Welcome Specsavers!

We are delighted to welcome Specsavers to #teamastley! We can’t wait to see the big name brand on the shopfloor more and more, as we start to bring their visions to life... 

#teamastley has been busy turning visions into reality, successfully completing recent installations for Specsavers! From manufacture to final install, we have enjoyed seeing the big brand come through our departments and onto site.

We are so pleased to have welcomed Specsavers to the team and we can’t wait to see what the future relationship will bring!

It’s great to have you Specsavers!

Discover more clients we do work for...

10 Years and counting!!

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10 Years and counting !!

Great North Run 2023…and an Astley milestone to celebrate!

We are so excited to have begun our 10th installation of the Great North Run sign on the distinguished Tyne Bridge, in preparation for the race in September! Playing a small part in this iconic event for 10 years this year now is something we are all incredibly proud about, and we plan to share a few highlights from over these years in the coming weeks so watch this space.

Shout out to our dedicated crews working throughout these muggy nights to get the sign installed safely. It looks fantastic as always!

Read More on our range of services...

Solar Central Co-op!

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Solar Central Co-op

We are super excited to have recently installed the first solar-powered totem of Central Co-op’s estate in Streethay! The totem’s subtle and sleek design allows for the solar panels to blend seamlessly into the structure – so much so, you can hardly tell it’s solar-powered!

We are always so thrilled to provide sustainable signage solutions as we continue with our Net Zero journey.

This site is one of many that has been completed for our rollout with Central Co-op, and we are looking forward to completing further locations!

Read More on Central Co-op...

BS EN 1090 Recertification

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BS EN 1090 Recertification

We are delighted to announce that Astley has excelled in passing the BS EN 1090 certification again! As one of only a handful of signmakers that continues to invest in keeping this accredited service in-house, we can support our clients with this European standard covering fabricated structural steelwork.

A huge thank you to our HSQE Manager, Wayne Abbott, and our fabrication team for working hard behind the scenes to ensure Astley passed with flying colours.

Read More on BSEN 1090...


International Women’s day 23’

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International Women’s Day 

We are excited to be celebrating the women in our workforce today at Astley! As a manufacturer in a predominantly male industry, we are aware of the struggle in our sector to recruit and help support women’s career progression. We pride ourselves in doing all we can to continue changing the landscape of women in manufacturing.


We sat down with Ruth, Group Buyer at Astley, to find out her thoughts on entering the manufacturing industry as a woman.
A demographic increasingly taking advantage of career opportunities in the manufacturing sector is women, covering roles from the shopfloor and production to finance and design. However, there is still room for improvement. Although women represent almost half of the workforce in the UK, they account for only 26% of all workers in the manufacturing sector. As a manufacturer, Astley is passionate about helping to increase these numbers and tackle any industry misconceptions.

We couldn’t be more proud to celebrate our leading ladies as they help to drive the company forward and help determine the future of Astley.

If you want to find out more about Ruth’s role and the current climate regarding women in manufacturing, then you can read our latest LinkedIn newsletter.

The Sign Awards!

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Astley were so proud to recently attend The Sign Awards in March! Having been the first ever Sign Awards event, it was so rewarding to see the industry get together once again to celebrate their craft.

A huge congratulations to everyone in their categories for their fantastic work, as well as to everyone at The Sign Awards for putting on such a great night! We were so inspired by all the incredible work done by the people of the industry.

Astley were thrilled to receive awards in both the Roll-out Programme of the Year and Signage Company of the Year. From our work on JET to our other key accounts, our CSR focuses to our bespoke creative production, this is a great recognition of our team’s efforts.

We couldn’t be prouder of our wonderful team here at Astley as they get recognised for all their hard work!


Learn more about our work with JET...

Sustainability Product Workshop

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Sustainability Product Workshop

To assist us along our journey to net Zero, its important that we are aware of the products available to us.

We recently invited one of our suppliers to give our teams information on products to enable us to speak to clients about them, to helps differentiate ourselves from competitors and add options for considerations.

Everyone that attended found it very interesting and with better understanding of products and application can now confidently offer these options to clients.

The countdown is on!

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We've been shortlisted!


We are incredibly pleased to announce we have been shortlisted in two categories at the The Sign Awards this year:

** Signage company of the Year **
** Roll-out Programme of the Year** (for our work supporting Jet local)

We want to wish a huge congrats to #teamastley for being recognised for all your hard work, and we are now crossing our fingers for the event in March!

Good luck to the other superb sign companies shortlisted and we're looking forward to seeing some amazing work on the night.

There is exactly one month to go until Astley attends The Sign Awards 2023 on the 22nd of March. Being shortlisted is a huge recognition of our team’s efforts, from our work on key accounts and more bespoke projects, to our ambitious CSR activities and sustainability focus. Regardless of the outcome, we are so proud of our team and their fantastic work!

Bronze Better Health Award!

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Awarded Bronze Better Health at Work Award!



We are so pleased to announce that we have been awarded the BRONZE Better Health at Work Award. This comes after a lot of hard work from our Health Advocate team, having run a number of key internal initiatives over the course of 2022, promoting better physical and mental wellbeing. This is a fantastic achievement, so a huge well done to our team here at Astley.

These initiatives are integral to looking after the wellbeing of our workforce, with employees benefitting from a culture of improved health and motivation. One of our many initiatives includes our recent Cycle2Work Scheme, introduced in 2022, that encourages our employees to get new cycling equipment and bike to work.

Not only is personal health improved, but morale and productivity also benefit greatly. A healthy workforce is a happy workforce!

We are looking forward to continuing our Better Health journey, with plans already being drafted for the year ahead. Here’s to 2023, as we shoot for Silver!


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80,000 views later

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80,000 views later

With over 80,000 views on TikTok last week for this particular post’s launch, we thought we would share our latest ‘behind the scenes’ of what’s been going on at our Gateshead facility.

It's great to see people are loving some of the brands we have the pleasure of supporting as much as we do!

Are you following us yet?

Follow us: https://www.tiktok.com/@astley... 

Check out our latest tiktok: https://www.tiktok.com/@astley...


Apprentice Winners

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WE WON!! 

We had a fantastic night at the Make UK awards last night with both of our shortlisted apprentices coming away with awards in their respective categories!

A huge thank you to everyone at Make UK for putting on such a great event and we couldn’t be prouder of the lads representing our company!

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21 Years at Astley

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21 Years at Astley 


Having recently celebrated his 21-year anniversary with the company, we thought we’d sit down with Design Manager Alex to catch up on life at Astley throughout his last 21 years and ask him what changes he’s seen along the way.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank Alex for all his hard work over the years and congratulate him on the transformation he has made to our amazing creative design service.

We won!

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WE WON!!!!

What a night and firstly, a huge congratulations to the organisers of the UK Graphic Awards. We're thrilled to say that our work on the Co-op ecostores won GOLD in the Printed signage category (sponsored by ISA UK) and the Lofts & Hustle won SILVER in the Leisure and Hospitality (sponsored by Vism).

We couldn't be prouder of our team and their hard work on these amazing projects and it's amazing that it's been acknowledged...twice!

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It’s congratulations from us!

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Well done to our super apprentices!

It's #buybritish day today, and we wanted to take a moment to celebrate the young British talent at #teamastley who are the next generation of UK sign makers .

Jake and Jordan at our Gateshead site have worked incredibly hard in the Metalwork and Assembly departments over the past four years, so we wanted to offer our congratulations to them on passing their apprenticeships recently. Well done to you both!

And we are now recruiting for more apprentices at our Kettering facility! For more information about vacancies, visit our careers page here

Skydive 2022

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Skydive 2022 

A month ago, 4 brave volunteers from our workforce took on the 10,000 ft tandem skydive with the aim of raising money for MIND UK.

Eden, Will, Jordan and Jake all helped raise a fantastic £475.00 and we couldn’t be prouder!

A huge well done and much admiration for these amazing fundraisers from all of us, and many thanks to all those of you who donated so kindly to this super cause.

https://skyhighskydiving.co.uk...

https://www.mind.org.uk/donate...

We’ve been shortlisted!

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We're thrilled to have been shortlisted at this year's UK Graphic Awards in two categories. 

We've firstly been shortlisted in the Leisure and Hospitality category for our work for The Lofts and The Hustle, aswell as in the Printed Signage category for our sustainability eco stores for the Co-op.

We're so pleased that the team are being recognised for their work on these superb projects and are now crossing our fingers for the event in October.

Regional Finalists!

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We’re delighted to announce that two of our apprentices have been shortlisted as regional finalists for this year’s Make UK Awards for the NE YH region.

Sam (right) has been shortlisted for the Business Apprentice Final Year award, while Anth (left) has been shortlisted for the Business Apprentice Rising Star.

It’s great to see the hard work from both apprentices has been recognised, and we have our fingers crossed for the 3rd of November.

We’ll be attending the event on the 3rd of November when the regional winners are announced in Harrogate and want to take this opportunity to wish everyone taking part the best of luck!

To find out more about the Make UK Awards 2022, please visit the link below: 

https://www.makeuk.org/news-an...

Sponsorships 2022

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Sponsorship 2022 

On the back of the Premier League returning over the weekend, we thought it would be an ideal time to share the fantastic shots of some local teams we have the privilege of supporting this upcoming season.

#teamastley wish all of the teams the best of luck and a massive THANK YOU from us for choosing Astley as your shirt sponsors!


Stockton Town FC Royals U9’s
Wrekenton Nou Camp U13's
FC Sparta U8’s x5
Hebburn town FC Blue Barca U8’s

We’ve been shortlisted!

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We're thrilled to have been shortlisted at this year's Creative Retail Awards in two categories for our work for The Lofts and The Hustle. Categories are Graphics, Signage and Wayfinding and Bar & Restaurant Design.

We're so pleased that the team are being recognised for their work on these superb projects and are now crossing our fingers for the event in September. 

We’re on TikTok

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We're on TikTok


Head over to our brand new TikTok page to follow all of the ‘behind the scenes’ action of how we take your ideas and translate them into reality…


TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@astley...

Astley Update


Mindelon acquires Astley Signs Limited  

To enable the retirement of our company Chairman, David Redhead, we are excited to announce that on the 31st May 2022, Mindelon AB acquired all the shares in Astley Signs Ltd.

We believe that this acquisition secures the future of our company for the next generation and enables it to continue to follow the path of investment, growth, and evolution we have successfully pursued over the last three decades.

Mindelon is a privately owned Swedish corporate group that acquires, supports and develops technology-based businesses in a number of well-defined niches. The group currently comprises a number of companies focused on increasing sales and efficiency in retail stores and other companies. Together, the Mindelon companies have some 250 employees with sales in northern Europe and the USA. To learn more about Mindelon, please visit www.mindelon.com.

Former Shareholders Gavin Redhead, Managing Director, and David Forrester, Sales Director, will continue their involvement with the company in their respective positions.


To view the press release regarding the acquisition please click here

Platinum Jubilee

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The Queens Platinum Jubilee 

#Teamastley are celebrating the Queen’s Jubilee today with various cakes and chocolate treats from the company!

We are looking forward to a long bank holiday weekend, like the majority of the country so would also like to highlight that from 5pm today our production facilities will be closed until Monday the 6th of June.

We hope you all enjoy your bank holiday.

A conversation with our Kickstarters

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International Women’s Day

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Astley is celebrating #internationalwomensday2022


As a UK manufacturer, we are aware that our sector can struggle to recruit and help support women’s career progression but we are doing everything we can to combat this.

We are proud to say that most recently, we have recruited two new female workshop colleagues who have thrown themselves into the environment and really embraced their roles at the company. There are also key female members of our staff in our other business departments that help drive this company forward, set strategy and determine the future of Astley.

We couldn’t be prouder to be celebrating them and thanking them for their valuable contribution today!

Staff Appreciation Day

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It’s treats all round on Employee Appreciation Day 

Our teams are what take us from good to great, so in an effort to say thanks, we’ve treated them all to a little bacon sarnie this morning!

Thanks for all your hard work #teamastley!

Net Zero Journey

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We have started a very important journey!

We’re incredibly excited to say that we have started our journey to becoming NET ZERO!

With the support and guidance of Inspired PLC, we start 2022 off with the ambition to review our internal processes and begin to set in place a strategy to becoming NET ZERO.

This is a journey we’d like to share with our partners and clients, so there will be more updates throughout the process as we work towards this very important goal. We can all play our part.

City Hall Project

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We have been thrilled to be working at a site local to our Gateshead head office, alongside Faulkner Browns and Bowmer and Kirkland 

Sunderland’s new £42m City Hall development looks superb with its brand new fascia lettering and internal branded graphics.

We assisted the project architects Faulkner Browns, with the design development and implementation of these highly bespoke wayfinding solutions and interior ambient graphics that create an extremely high-end finish for the mix of office, leisure and residential residents.

As we have an in-house studio with designers highly experienced in brand implementation and wayfinding, we offered Faulkner Browns the opportunity to transfer their ideas and conceptual work into physical assets, alongside supporting them with manufacture and installation.

This is such an impressive building and a really superb example about how we can support architects and developers with the physical translation of their branding projects.
 

30th Anniversary Celebrations

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We were so pleased to conclude our 30th Anniversary celebrations last Friday with an amazing staff lunch at our production sites.

It’s an incredible milestone to reach for the company and it’s wonderful to finally be able to thank staff, partners and clients for their support over the years.

Throughout November we held a daily staff raffle, gifted each team member an extra day’s holiday in 2022, shared the odd embarrassing photo on our screens and had a super lunch for our teams to enjoy. There was also a staff goody bag!

Here’s to the next 30 years!

Celebrating 30 years!!!!

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​we’re celebrating!

After a slight delay due to COVID, #teamastley are celebrating 30 years being the very best in the business this month.

We have lots of treats in store for all our teams including a daily raffle, an extra day’s holiday in 2022 for everyone at the company and a complimentary staff lunch with goodies planned in for the 26th November.

Our excellent workforce after all, are what take us from good to great!

To learn more about the company, visit our About Us page on this website >

HSQE Update

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​Here at Astley, the health and safety of our staff is always our number one priority. We have highlighted this most recently by investing in brand new RPE for all our welding staff.

HSQE Manager Wayne Abbott shared his thoughts on the importance of this investment by the company:

“We all know welding fumes can potentially cause serious health problems for workers if inhaled. By issuing all our welders the latest in RPE (Respiratory Protective Equipment) we’re continuing to demonstrate our commitment to our staff’s health, safety and wellbeing which will always remain our ultimate priority. It is so vital that our workforce feels positive about their health and work environment, and I fully believe this leads to happier and more productive teams.”

Skydive 2021

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There were a few butterflies felt this weekend as the first of our two groups of brave staff volunteers did their skydive for Macmillan Cancer Support. We couldn’t be prouder of what they have achieved so far in fundraising, and if there is anyone who’d like to contribute a donation still, please visit our JustGiving page below:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/astley-signs7

The second group are jumping on the 20th of November when we will also share the final total. A huge well done guys!

Run Forrester run!

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​Massive good luck to our project manager Will Forrester this coming Sunday, in his challenge to tackle this year’s Great North Run! Will is running in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support and we wish him and everybody else taking part, the very best of luck! If you would like to donate, please see the link below as every little helps!

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/astley-signs6

Shortlisted by MakeUK

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We’re delighted to announce that we’ve been shortlisted in two categories for this year’s Make UK Awards for the North East, Yorkshire & Humberside region. The two categories we have been shortlisted in are ‘Energy and Sustainability' and ‘Health and Safety’, two categories that we are extremely passionate about.

Both these categories are so important to us as a business as we appreciate the part we play as a manufacturer in reducing our impact on the environment as much as possible, as well as looking after the health and wellbeing of our superb workforce. It’s great to see that the hard work of all our teams has been recognised.

We’ll be attending the event on the 7th of October when the regional winners are announced in Harrogate and want to take this opportunity to wish everyone taking part the best of luck!

It’s started!

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​We’re back and so excited to be starting on the installation of the Great North Run sign at the Tyne Bridge this week. After missing a year for obvious reasons, we’re all so pleased to be getting this sign back and ready for the runners this September.

Wembley 9m Totems now installed

  • Wembley 9m Totems now installed
  • Following on from our manufacture and installation of 4 x 5m digital totems at Wembley Park, we’re so pleased to have recently completed a further 2 x 9m digital totems at the foot of the brand new Olympic Steps.

    Working with our digital partner Eclipse digital Media, we designed, manufactured and installed these impressive wayfinding totems before the Caraobao Cup final in April and they are now ready to welcome fans to the Euros and every other event at Wembley for years to come.

    For more information about our expertise in digital media solutions, visit our Digital page here >

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    Walk this May 2021

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    ​We’re so proud of our workforce getting involved with the latest fundraiser for Macmillan Cancer Support. This time the task was to walk the distance between our two production facilities - Gateshead and Kettering - during the month of May.
    This was a ‘virtual’ challenge with the teams of four walking together to tick off the miles, and the winning team has now been announced. The ‘Chafing the Dream Team’, headed by Astley’s Operations Director Bryan O’Donnell, walked the furthest distance in the allocated time, and each of the team were awarded with a lovely MacMillan medal.
    All together, everyone involved raised a super £420 for the very worthwhile charity, and got a little fitter in the process. Well done team!

    Well done to #teamastley

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    We are incredibly proud of our workforce and their commitment to still dig deep and raise a superb amount for a superb cause during such an unprecedented year that was 2020. A company record amount of £4,234 was raised, which was then matched by the company, making the final total a superb £8,468!
    Erin Fairley, the Relationship Fundraising Manager for MacMillan Support in the North East paid particular mention to us recently on LinkedIn and we couldn’t be more proud of what all our teams achieved, taking part in a variety of fundraising events throughout 2020. A superb effort and very well deserved shout-out by MacMillan.
    Thank you to all our staff and the organisers of the events who helped the company break a record.

    ISA UK Membership

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    We are excited to announce that we have just become members of the International Sign Association ISA UK, the leading trade organisation for the Sign Industry in the United Kingdom.
    The International Sign Association is a leader in shaping and developing the sign, graphics and visual communications community worldwide. This membership means that we now have access to full spectrum of resources to help us develop and improve our offering to support clients, such as education and training. Membership of the ISA-UK makes a clear statement about a sign business and the professionalism we offer, and the ISA-UK emblem is recognised as the mark of a quality sign maker.
    We are so pleased to begin our relationship with ISA UK and look forward to sharing resource, knowledge and expertise in the future.

    Happy to be supporting Ascona

    Astley is proud to be supporting Ascona Group with the rebranding of their forecourts across the UK, and we want to say a huge thank you for allowing us to be their specialist partner in the delivery of their programs . We also want to offer our thanks to all the staff for making our engineers feel so welcome.
    So far this year, we have completed 10 sites for them for JET (@jetlocaluk) rebrands, offering a range of expert services such as surveying, design of brand packs, manufacture, painting and valet services.
    Being considered the experts in this sector, we pride ourselves on our proactive relationship with companies like Ascona Group and are grateful for the opportunity to prove we are the ideal partner for forecourt branding programs.

    Marking International Women’s Day

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    Happy International Women’s Day 2021!​

    We have been celebrating International Women’s Day this week and wanted to give a ‘shout out’ to all those women starting out their careers in design, print and particularly in manufacturing! 

    Health Advocates

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    We’re pleased to announce we have recently signed up for the Better Health At Work Award - County Durham (bronze award) this year, and will be taking part in an extensive set of requirements throughout the next few months to prove our commitment to supporting our teams.

    Part of this process has been to ask staff from all our sites to volunteer to become the Astley Health Advocates, and we were overwhelmed with the response. It just goes to show how supportive and dedicated our teams are in wanting to get involved.

    We now have 6 team members actively involved in a number of internal initiatives to support their colleagues, the first of which was our Valentines Day celebrations. https://lnkd.in/dr64cUK

    We’re looking forward to seeing what they come up with next and the journey the company will go on to hopefully achieve this award towards the end of 2021.

    Keeping our workforce safe

    We’re so pleased to be working with this company, ensuring that our workforce are kept safe, especially in such challenging times.
    It’s so important for us that we do as much as we can to ensure for the safety of our colleagues, and this covers so many areas of the business. Our HSQE Manager, Wayne Abbott, comments:
    I see it as a priority to look at all areas of the business and review how our health and safety provision is working effectively for us. Even down to the water we use at the factories, which perhaps can go unnoticed, it’s vital we keep on top of each opportunity to review and audit what needs to be done to look after the wellbeing of our staff. Our teams work incredibly hard for this company and it’s my job as their HSQE Manager, to ensure for their safety at all times. They shouldn’t have to worry about it, and just be able to get on doing what they do best!

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    Sharing the love at Astley

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    We are sharing our love and appreciation for #teamastley today, in celebration of Valentine’s Day at the weekend.

    Two lucky members of staff won a special Valentine’s Day gift from the company to share with their loved ones, and the rest of the workforce received a sweet treat.
    It doesn’t take a lot to show appreciation to those that work so incredibly hard for a company. And surely in these difficult times a little fun can go a long way!

    Neville Hall Light Feature

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    We’re so pleased to have a creative production department at Astley, supporting clients and agencies with the practical application of the more unusual and bespoke display pieces.
    We recently produced a super light feature for the historic Neville Hall in Newcastle which encompasses the many skills we have in-house. This Grade II listed building is known to most as The Mining Institute and with a nod to its history, we designed an atrium light feature that encompasses 20 fake ‘gas’ lamps, sprayed in bronze, suspended in a beautiful display than spans the 3 floors of the hall’s atrium. Reopening as The Common Room later this month, this building is sure to impress it’s visitors and staff alike.

    Brexit ready!

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    Like every company in the UK, we’ve been working hard to prepare for Brexit.

    We’ve just released an article on LinkedIn which summarises the work from our super Procurement Team getting us ‘Brexit ready’ which can be viewed here >

    If you haven’t got a LinkedIn account, please download a PDF of the article here >

    We’re back!

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    We’re happy to be back in a new year and very much hoping that the UK can get back on track in 2021!

    As a UK Manufacturer we are proud of what can be achieved in this country and will continue to support our clients with all their signage and brand graphic requirements from our four UK locations.

    Wishing you a very safe and Happy Christmas!

    We’d like to wish all our valued clients, suppliers, partners and of course our super workforce a safe and Happy Christmas!

    Our offices will be closing at the end of the day on the 18th December and will re-open on the 4th January 2021.

    Should you wish to contact us during this time, please email enquiries@astley-uk.com as someone will be checking these messages throughout the Christmas period.

    Christmas message and closing details

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    ​We can’t quite believe it is coming to the end of 2020, and what a year it has been!

    We will be closing on the 18th December and will re-open on the 4th January 2021, but if you should need to contact us during this Christmas closing period please email enquiries@astley-uk.com.

    May we take this opportunity to wish all our clients, partners and our wonderful workforce the very best this Christmas.

    New Sainsburys store at Brackley

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    We were so pleased to support Sainsbury’s with their first new store for 2020 at Brackley in Northamptonshire. We were responsible for a full range of requirements including the illuminated building fascia signs, aisle graphics, illuminated feature wall signs and printed graphics amongst other key wayfinding elements. We also loved to see more EV points being installed as this site is one of the first to have environmental credentials with a Bee Hotel!

    For the full Sainsbury’s post on LinkedIn, click here >

    Co-op sign goes viral

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    ​We’re pleased to see the latest sign produced and installed by #teamastley has gone viral online on the internet! We can’t think why!
    Super effort to all involved with getting this one installed.

    Charity fundraising - we’ve exceeded our target!

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    ​We are so pleased to finally be able to support our charity of the year, Macmillan Cancer Support, with a number of recent events.

    Firstly, we took part in the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning at our Gateshead and Kettering sites with a huge selection of cakes and savouries donated by staff. There was also two chocolate bouquets raffled off with a winner at each site. The total we raised for this event was £350.

    Our second event (and a first for us) was a ‘Brave the Shave’ on the 6th October. Five of our superb Gateshead workforce volunteered to get their heads shaved to raise money and we were absolutely astounded by the generosity of staff, suppliers and clients giving money to sponsor these brave guys. Of course, all social distancing precautions were put in place to be sure the event was carried out safely, and the chop happened at 3.45pm at the Gateshead office.

    We wanted to offer a huge thank you to:

    • Keven
    • Will
    • John
    • Tom
    • Steve

    for their very brave sacrifice as it is particularly cold this time of year. We also want to thank the ‘Brave Shavers’ and all the fabulous donors for their support.

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    Tynemouth Aquarium

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    ​We were really pleased to be able to support Tynemouth Aquarium recently with the production of this superb bespoke totem outside their venue.

    Working with the architects Williams Architecture we manufactured and installed this impressive illuminated totem using mixed media, using a rustic effect for the aquatic feature elements mounted onto the powdercoated aluminium panels. It looks particularly effective in the evening as the nights draw in.

    We hope the visitors to the centre are impressed!

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    Best of luck

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    ​Even though this year’s event can’t go ahead due to Covid, an amazing number of people are still going to do the Great North Run on a virtual basis. We wanted to say best of luck and we truly hope that we can take part supporting the Great North Run next year.

    For more information about the event visit the Great Run Company website here >

    National Organ Donation Week

  • National Organ Donation Week
  • ​We were very proud to be able to support this week’s National Organ Donation Week by producing Kettering Hospital’s campaign signage around the site. Such a tremendous cause and we hope the graphics highlight such a worthwhile cause.

    For more information about the activities at the hospital, please see their news article here >

    Keep on Moving

    ​We couldn’t be more excited to see our hard work being featured on the first JET advert in over 20 years! This site at White Rose was designed and installed by us last year and is the chosen forecourt for the advert’s pianist to fill up! Superb advert and we couldn’t be prouder!

    Wembley Totems carrying important message

    ​We were pleased to see the Wembley digital totems we installed earlier this year, displaying such an important message our visit recently. We are all slowly opening up and beginning a new way of working but it’s still important to keep vigilant.
    These impressive units display a vital message to visitors to Wembley Park and we’re pleased to see them in such good use.

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    When is a sign not a sign…?

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    ...100 years of history has taught us the answer!

    There are many people outside our industry that believe there is a hard and fast answer to this question. A sign is simply an illuminated fascia on the front of a building, a piece of basic wayfinding to direct visitors or the printed icon fixed to the front of a toilet door. Simple.

    But what about the brand experience? Can signage support the emerging trends for creating that magical ‘experiential’ environment? Can signage actually create these environments? So, when does a sign become more than a sign?

    Signage is such a key tool in driving us safely through this pandemic but maybe it is also yet another opportunity to use it to build our identities.

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    We’ve been working in this industry since 1918...and as you can imagine, we’ve seen a lot evolve over this time!

    Back then, Wikipedia’s definition of signage being “...the design or use of words or symbols to communicate a message” was most certainly true, with limited production techniques and simpler expectations being answered in just 6 techniques and 17 fonts. The funny thing is, like most fashions, these traditional, craftsman skills of a signmaker are now experiencing a come back and are very much sought after to actually create new and emerging environmental graphics.

    Astley’s Creative Account Manager, Rob Reid comments:

    “Historically, the art of hand-painted signage was commonly found on both the high street and vehicles, however, with the development of modern day techniques and introduction of computer-aided design the use of CNC cutting machines and man-made products, such as standard and digitally printed vinyl, has become the norm.”

    “Illumination and built-up lettering were developed and continue to be improved upon with more detailed manufacturing techniques. LED technology is fast becoming the market leader in both illumination and display technologies and due to the environmental benefits and pricing, will continue to play a big part in the signage and POS industry.

    “As with all design, the signage industry embraces the latest trends, but we’ve found that most recently, we are being tasked with working on hand painted finishes again on all types of material from aged wood, steel and standard wall finishes - reverting to the traditional skills of the sign maker”

    An instruction to go left or right, or a name plate on a door can’t be seen as a simple answer anymore. It’s an opportunity to make a brand statement, another method to promote a company’s values and to interact with the viewer, to convey the unsaid and stand apart from everyone else. Combining creative signage and brand graphics with statement architecture is just one way of creating that unique experience.

    Astley’s Sales Director, David Forrester gives his views on the advances he has observed over the last 20 years:

    “It’s amazing to think how much has changed over the years. It seems that following the introduction of mobile technology in particular, everything is now much more immediate. The ability to share images instantly, speed of communication and social media means that a brand can be communicated in so many more ways.

    Our response as a supplier has had to mirror these advances to match clients’ expectations. I’m pleased to say we have continued to be one of the leaders in the industry by maintaining quality and offering innovation in all areas of the business. Our vast experience as sign makers and the traditional skillsets we continue to nurture however, sets us apart still from the rest. Signage plays just as vital a part in communicating a message as it always did, but the way in which our brilliant and multi-skilled teams at Astley now design and produce them has changed dramatically.”

    The correct use of signage should be seen as an opportunity for a company to engage with its visitors but also its staff, maybe have fun with them, but still inform them and potentially now more than ever, keep them safe. The need to communicate safety messaging in any environment with social distancing signage has been answered with temporary hazard graphics and warning chevrons as an immediate fix.

    But what impact has this had on a brand experience? Has it been lost by this ‘quick-fix’ solution? Does this approach run risk of permanently ruining all the hard work made by brands to create their own unique experiences? It’s a fine balance between delivering that very important message and also still engaging and encouraging back those lost visitors from almost every sector.

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    Since we acquired award-winning signage company Sign of the Times in 2016, we have added a unique industry asset to our own service portfolio - that of creative production. Being multiple award-winners for their work supporting creative agencies, Sign of the Times’ unique talent for bringing creativity to life and working with mixed media set them apart from competitors. But, they always struggled to engage with creative prospects potentially because of one reason…their name. The word ‘sign’ still dampened their opportunities for growth. This misconception of the word is still a barrier in the industry and ultimately one of the reasons we decided to bring them into our own brand of Astley.

    Where is the industry going now?

    We believe it is shifting rapidly yet again, having to respond to these new demands in retail, hospitality and leisure in particular, being tasked with clearly directing visitors through these sites safely, but still creating a welcoming space. Signage now needs to find a balance between the old and the new, build an identity in such competitive markets and take each and every opportunity to say more.

    So ‘when is a sign not a sign..?’

    The answer is simply when it goes beyond the basic solving of a problem, when it demonstrates personality beyond purpose and when it conveys a brand message in more than words and symbols. Signage should, and can be inspiring; it can be photographed and shared. It can still fulfil its remit but there is no reason why it can’t also be ultimately experienced and enjoyed.

    BP forecourts looking smart this month!

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    ​We’re happy to be work at work (at a safe distance of course!) supporting BP with a number of forecourt rebrands. The install team are working safely, abiding by all the new site rules, and through the sun and the rain to get the job done.

    Back doing what we do best!

    ​We are so pleased to finally be back out and installing at Sainsbury’s sites across the UK. Last week saw the first two sites for Locals installed - thanks to the whole team involved! (Beverley Road, Hull pictured).

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    Sign Design Society - new post

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    ​We’re very pleased to be featuring in the Sign Design Society news this month for our work on Telford Mann.

    Read more on their website page here >

    in the press…

    • in the press…

    ​We’re very excited to be appearing in a recent issue of Manufacturing Today, talking all about changes to the company over the years and how manufacturing has changed for us during this time.

    To read the full article click here (page 14) >

    covid notice from astley

    • covid notice from astley

    ​In response to the Coronavirus pandemic, we’d like to list our Company Covid Response details below:

    astley Covid Notice

    astley Covid RAMS

    We are also pleased to be able to support client with a range of social distancing and safety signage - click here to learn more >

    a brand new website!

    • a brand new website!

    We’re so pleased to finally have our new website live!

    When Sign of the times rebranded to Astley, it was important that we developed a new website that encapsulated the full extent of our combined capabilities and portfolio of work. We hope that this new website provides a much more comprehensive summary of how we support our clients and how our highly skilled staff excel at providing the very best quality brand graphics available in the industry.