Janus van Helfteren

Janus van Helfteren

CEO, Vancols


Janus is Managing Director of Van Cols Ltd, a Colchester-based family-owned photographic company that currently employs around 85 people.  Formed over 65 years ago, Van Cols now also offers marketing and graphic design services working mostly in the south east of Britain.

Janus is, by trade, a photographer specialising in advertising and has lived just outside Colchester in West Bergholt all his life, so have seen it change and, travelling extensively for his company, he has the benefit of comparing it to other towns and cities he visits regularly.  Janus has been involved in trying to further Colchester, one way or another, for several years .


Janus van Helfteren is 2nd generation in the UK business Vancols Ltd, school photographers. He has been working there since he was 19, and running it since he was about 28. The business is in its 60th year and, depending whose stats you believe, is the 3rd or 4th largest in the UK. Vancols mantra has always been quality, of photography and service to schools.

VanCols went into Processing (production) late, only some 14 years ago, previously having outsourced to various UK labs; this changed with the onset of digital, mainly because of quality, more than price.

Vancols has had an online solution (they build websites as well), dealing more directly with parents for the last 6 or so years, and are about to launch their 4th version of their online ’shop’.

It employs around 70 full time, up to 100 when flat out busy, most from Colchester, with a few coming in from Suffolk.

Janus is married to a personal trainer (you won’t believe that) with 3 kids, one a graphic designer, one an expert in social media marketing, and one carpenter (none work in the Vancols Business). He may well be known to quite a few of you, if only for asking difficult questions!