AN innovative printer who has transformed his business to become a pioneering world leader has been named Entrepreneur of the Year at Cheshire High Sheriff's Awards for Enterprise.

Technoprint in Winsford has become the UK's largest independent supplier of information leaflets to the pharmaceutical industry.

The company was also highly commended in the Award for Responsible Business Practice as 300 guests celebrated the strength and success of the region's business community.

Winsford Guardian:

Alexis Redmond MBE High Sheriff of Cheshire, Steve Fitzsimons of Warrington & Co, Alan Ryan and Professor Phil Harris, University of Chester's Business Research Institute as Technoprint is highly commended in the Award for Responsible Business Practice

Owner and managing director Alan Ryan has developed ultra lightweight leaflet paper which can be folded into miniature patient leaflets to accompany medicines, tablets and prescriptions.

Ten years ago, as commercial printing slumped in the recession, he diversified and invested in new technology and introduced stringent production methods to become a specialist accredited supplier to the pharmaceutical industry.

"It is quite a niche area,"said Alan, who founded the business with a partner in the Verdin Exchange in 1988. "Not many suppliers in Britain have this accreditation. There are lots of controls in the factory such as measuring moisture in the air. It is all about good manufacturing practices."

Technoprint already had speciality equipment as they used to print catalogues on airmail thin paper for the stamp auction industry.

"We already had the skill set," said Alan, who bought his business partner out a decade ago. "The pharmaceutical market is huge but it is very complicated and takes years to built up confidence.

"We are working hard behind the scenes and are talking to a lot of companies about long term projects."

Alan's commitment and investment is paying off as sales have soared and he has even developed an export market in France, Switzerland and the Dominican Republic.

"We have doubled our turnover over the last four years and will do the same again in the next four years, possibly even three," said Alan, who has also bought a site on Winsford Industrial Estate and plans to build a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility four times the size of his existing factory in the Old School at Meadowbank.

"This is the most ambitious step forward in our history," said Alan. "The new site gives us a real step forward. It is a massive financial undertaking but the last 12 months have been unbelievably good in business.

"It will look very modern and clinically clean. It will be a 12-month project."

Technoprint plans to double its existing workforce of 27 and is already recruiting new staff.

"The vast majority of our staff are from Winsford and going forward we are looking to recruit local people."

Growing markets for miniature leaflets he is exploring include medication for animals in the veterinary industry, vape and electronic products and cosmetic companies.

New legislation and the demand to print in various languages means more information has to be included on patient leaflets.

"We have intellectual property on our specialist lightweight paper which is called Pharmalite," added Alan. "There is massive growth potential.

"The last four years have been incredible and we've just had an incredible year. We are already extremely confident our next financial year will be much the same."

Alan received membership of Cheshire Business Leaders worth £500.

Paul Taylor, from Cheshire Business Leaders, said: "Alan Ryan's company is a great example of the often ignored or overlooked side of entrepreneurialism where it's not about creating a whole new product, service or company but instead it's the art of improving an existing one by shifting its focus on a gap in a difficult market and allowing the company to thrive.

"We're very proud to have such a successful Cheshire businessman as our entrepreneur of the year."