The last decade has witnessed an incredible transformation at Toppan Leefung Printing Limited, with the company evolving from a printing corporation into a multifaceted and diversified conglomerate. “While printing is still at the core of our business, we have expanded into capital markets, financial services, technology-enabled language translations, and global payment and identity industries,” says Mae Zhao, who oversees Toppan’s book business worldwide.
Pop-up books and children’s novelty projects reign supreme at Toppan Excel, which is famed for manufacturing titles by top paper-engineering artists such as David Carter, Matthew Reinhart, and Robert Sabuda. “Given that complex pop-ups are much costlier now, those days of dozens of titles being simultaneously assembled on the production floor are over,” says managing director Haiyan Zhu of Excel, whose team proudly worked on Gérard Lo Monaco’s The Little Prince and Robert Sabuda’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. “Toppan Excel continues to work with select complex designs that leverage its core competencies, expertise, and industry branding.”
As for Toppan Leefung and its 21 printing presses, high-quality children’s books and activity kits, coffee table titles, and trade books make up the majority of its portfolio. One noteworthy project that the company shipped out recently was Amanda Gorman’s picture book Change Sings.
The pandemic years of uncertainty and challenge have made Toppan stronger and more resilient, Nigel Shu, managing director of Toppan Leefung, says. “Our export business, mostly to North America and Europe, had record years in 2021 and 2022 despite supply chain disruptions and exorbitant freight charges. We kept to our schedules and often completed work ahead of deadlines to allow our clients more time for shipping. What made this possible was our spirit of empowerment, prompting our support and manufacturing teams to work harder to speed up internal processes while maintaining consistently high quality.”
Meanwhile, Shu is busy working on improving production efficiencies by upgrading presses and adding automation. “Our company has just purchased Shenzhen-based CyanineTech for its robots, which will help us to counter the challenges of labor shortages and rising wages,” Shu says. A new large-format KBA Rapida sheetfed offset press and an automatic board-book machine were installed at the Excel facility while the Leefung plant added a new Muller Martini Diamant MC-60 hardcover book production line, a Hörauf book-casing line, LED UV presses, and digital enhancement machines to the lineup.
“Investing in our people and manufacturing capabilities is essentially about better equipping ourselves for the road ahead, especially in uncertain times,” Shu says. “Empowering employees to be customer-centric and to proactively create value for customers, on the other hand, ensures that Toppan stays on top of cost, delivery, innovation, quality, and service. Everyone in Toppan—which, for us, is our family—has the same objective: to work toward the complete satisfaction of publishers from around the globe.”