Pets at Home

The brief

In 2018 Havas helia awarded Precision Card Services (PCS) the Pets at Home (PAH) contract which coincided with the plan to redesign and revamp its already hugely successful VIP Club Card scheme.

Running in parallel with the creative process, PAH requested ‘design for manufacture’ suggestions which would not only enhance the look, feel and functionality of the direct mailing piece (inclusive of card, key fobs welcome letter, vouchers and additional inserts) but would also deliver production efficiencies resulting in improved costs.

Based on customer feedback, PAH had also identified a large emphasis needed to be placed on quality and service to reflect their own high standards and therefore wanted to review the existing SLA and ensure mailing packs consistently arrived on time to its customers.

Meeting the challenge

Technical experts at PCS assessed the existing pack to obtain a comprehensive understanding of its current format and single out any elements where improvements could be made. It was also important to recognise any potential cost savings which were not to the detriment of the overall quality of the piece.
The first and most significant observation made by the team was that the existing pack encompassed a card and separate set of key fobs. As one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of plastic cards, PCS operate a range of state-of-the-art finishing equipment that can facilitate the production of a combined card and key fob format. Not only would this provide an obvious reduction in the material costs, but more importantly streamlined the finishing and fulfilment processes without compromising on the style and function of the product.

PCS also highlighted the card personalisation which was duplex (double sided) on the existing layout – with a simple design change, the personalisation of all information could be placed on the reverse, providing a slick and functional design at half the processing cost.

The voucher forms were integrated into the covering letter/card carrier with patterned perforations to reduce on material cost and ensure the fulfilment process was extremely efficient. The C5 outer envelope was adjusted to the unusual, yet eye-catching portrait layout; as a result, extensive work was required to ensure the mailing addresses and Mailmark codes within the envelope window met with strict Royal Mail regulations.


Working meticulously with Havas helia, the dedicated PCS project management team mapped out key requirements necessary to deliver the project on time. At the initial stage of the contract PCS created an SFTP account to provide quick, secure data transfer between both parties on a weekly basis. Additionally, data specialists from Precision Card Services advised Havas helia and PAH on data formatting to ensure consistent file structure therefore minimising the risk of error.

A thorough and robust proofing process was set in place so that physical mailing packs could be scanned from various points within the data file to provide the client with the peace of mind that the data was correct, and the cards are correctly matched.

Following extensive live-proofing to adhere to PAH brand guidelines, the generic base stock of 500,000 gloss laminated combined cards and fobs was printed on a KBA Genius 52UV waterless litho press offering exceptional print quality whilst reducing emissions of harmful chemicals into the atmosphere. Finished using an Oasys collator, Oasys laminator and Oasys progression punch, the cards were then held in stock at PCS awaiting ongoing personalisation and fulfilment. Attention was taken to colour match all supporting stationery collateral, ensuring consistency throughout the pack.

Production (continued)

Upon receipt of the weekly data file via SFTP, experts at PCS processed the data and provided output as print ready files for the various stages of personalisation. The card/fobs were personalised to the reverse using the Atlantic Zeiser’s VISA approved drop on demand (DoD) equipment presenting high definition, yet high speed print results.

Printshop Mail letter-text templates were called via flags within the data allowing for variable duplex laser printing, before the letters were accurately folded on the MBO folding unit. The personalised card/fobs were then attached to the corresponding folded letters on Kirk Rudy attaching lines utilising specialist Lake Imaging Systems camera equipment, unique to PCS, which affords an “underneath match system”, before finally being inserted (along with required inserts/leaflets) into the outer by the Bell & Howell inserter, specifically chosen for its ability to handle plastic card packs.

The results

We currently process approximately 25,000 packs per week and receive data via a secure SFTP. The data is pre-sorted and packs are maintained in ‘mail sort’ sequence to present PAH with maximum postage discounts from the DSA service provider, Whistl. Mail is released weekly in accordance with the pre-defined service level agreement without fail.
The changes to the format and design of the cards, combined with fresh stationery has resulted in a pack that has been received incredibly well, with feedback from both PAH and its customers that the pack has a much-improved perceived value.

By carefully rationalising production processes PCS not only reduced processing costs but also improved the lead time for delivery into the final customer.

Matthew Watson, Project manager at Havas helia commented “The day to day account management is professional, pro-active and well organised and the company has good systems in place to support staff. It feels like we work as a team to deliver the PAH VIP packs, not just as a client/supplier relationship.”

He added “From the outset the PCS team have proven themselves to be creative, flexible and have a thorough understanding of what can and can’t be done within this sector of the market, which is very reassuring. Just as importantly as all of the above, everyone is always very nice to deal with!”

Let us help you with your scheme

Interested in finding out more about how you can improve your card scheme? Then get in touch with our friendly team of card specialists.