About Financial Times Diaries

The History of Letts - 1796 to the present day

The name Letts has been synonymous with diaries since the beginning of the nineteenth century. In 1796, the founder, John, established a stationery business in the arcades of London's Royal Exchange.
The merchants and traders who frequently purchased stationery items from this shop needed a means of recording the movements of stock and controlling their finances. John Letts responded to the needs of his merchant customers in 1812 by creating the world's first Commercial Diary. The diary soon established itself as an essential feature of commercial life. The rapid refinement of the product, with the introduction of detailed information sections, meant that by the 1820's the first modern style diary ranges were published.
Today, the company manufactures over 22 million diaries and is firmly established as the market leader supplying more than 40 per cent of all branded diaries in the UK and exporting to over 75 countries around the world

In the past few years, Letts have invested in machinery and fulfillment systems that allows them to offer a more personalised option. We now implement global contracts, which include a web-based order system, offering bespoke products, and added product personalisation which are then fulfilled to all regions of the world. Over 300 staff are employed by Letts at a 250,000 sq ft factory which incorporates customer service, print, bindery, and fulfillment on one site. Throughout the years Letts has undergone a number of ownership changes and in August 2000 a Management Buyout team were successful in buying the company. Discussions commenced on October 2000 to acquire Filofax. In July 2001 Letts Holdings Ltd acquired the Filofax Group to become the Letts Filofax Group Ltd. LFG now comprises principally of two UK operations and eight overseas subsidiaries.

Tour - The Start
Before we can launch the product into our factory, we need to bring together all the component parts. Key to this activity are the staff in our Editorial and Origination Departments Turning ideas into print
Once the ideas have been developed and the product originated, the next stage in the process is printing

The Book Block
The diary comprises of two distinct components: the 'book block' and the 'cover'. The book block can be constructed in a number of different ways. Traditionally, all books were made by hand, and as such, the inside (or book block) was thread sewn. Clearly this was a labour intensive process but it did ensure the highest quality. Nowadays there are other methods of production and Letts have invested in a high-speed binding-line that glues the book block together (like a paperback). However, unlike a paperback, the activity doesn't stop there. A diary can include other value added features such as a ribbon bookmark, gilt foil page edges, pockets for holding address booklets and customer's publicity pages etc. At Letts, we also produce books with alternative styles of binding such as Paperback, Wiro and Comb binding, each requiring specialist handling through our production processes.

The Cover
At Letts, we are experienced in working with a huge range of different materials, each with different properties. From man-made PVC to natural leathers, from hard backed covers to wiro bound, our factory can handle a broad spectrum of cover types. Our machinery is designed to make covers of high quality at high speed and we have invested hundreds of thousands of pounds to maintain our competitive edge in this area

Case – in
Once the book block and cover have been produced, the final process in diary production is to bring them together. Again, investment in state of the art book binding machinery by Letts has enabled us to sustain our position at the forefront of the diary market, serving the retail and business markets world-wide.

We can embellish almost any diary and make it much more of a personal gift. This is of particular interest in the business market where clients use our products as promotional gifts for their companies. By adding their logo or company details to the front cover, or by inserting publicity pages, a stock item can become a unique gift for the client to use. With our new technology, we can insert up to 16 pages of information and can produce 1,000 books per hour!