L to R: Karl Price, Print Room supervisor; Riky Butcher; Mark Allibone, Print Room Manager; Emmeline Petersen; Tony Corben; Neil Lockton, Production Manager; Sue Strydom; Rod Sessions, Sales & Marketing Manager.
40 years in business and looking to ensure its future growth and profitability, the company is now set to expand into the signage and personalised gift market
CMYUK; Shrewsbury – Hampshire Flag has invested in a Mimaki JFX 200-2513 EX UV LED flatbed printer from CMYUK. The investment coincides with the company’s 40th anniversary and marks a new chapter in its history.
Traditionally a large format fabric printer, producing flags, exhibition and event equipment products, it has also always printed vinyl which it mounted onto substrates such as Foamex and Corex for a small number of clients.
“Increasingly customers were asking for more of this type of work,” says Sales Manager, Rod Sessions, “and it was becoming more time consuming. We felt the need to go faster but also open ourselves up to more opportunities within the signage market. We are known as a flag and fabric manufacturer but felt we could easily become a signage manufacturer. We just needed the right equipment to help us do this efficiently and quickly.”
Historically signage has accounted for 5 – 10% of the business. ”We’ve always looked at the huge market potential of signage and thought we'd like a piece of it. It’s nothing too different from what we're doing but because of the machinery we have at the moment, our price point for this type of work isn’t competitive enough. There was no point us doing a signage tender because with our existing kit, we’d be priced out of the market, hence the motivation to purchase the new flatbed,” says Rod.
The onward diversification doesn’t stop here. Thanks to COVID, the company which has an established web presence started to look at opportunities within personalised gifting. “We felt that with the Pandemic there would be a trend towards personalised and customised gifting so we’ve positioned ourselves favourably here to meet the additional revenue streams bought about by market demand. Again, the JFX 200- 2513 EX will help us with this and we’ve got the expertise in-house to do it,” says Rod.
The CMYUK factor
After researching in-house and considering a number of printer manufacturers, the company identified Mimaki as the main contender. Hampshire Flag visited the CMYUK demonstration facility in Shrewsbury and was greatly impressed with not only the Mimaki portfolio but the whole CMYUK experience.
“We were really comfortable with the JFX 200 – 2513 EX but beyond that with the CMYUK levels of service and how it would respond to our demands going forward. We felt we’d get a great deal of value from CMYUK in the longer term through its support,” he says.
The JFX 200 -2513 EX is the industry’s best-selling UV-LED curing flatbed printer that combines high-value-printing with high productivity. Features include Embossed Printing that makes a surface look bumpy due to the ability to lay down multiple ink layers. Offering White and Colour, this 8ft x 4ft flatbed automatically detects any missing print nozzles and performs recovery. In addition, the printer uses advanced algorithm to print optimum gradation patterns on each pass, significantly eliminating banding effect on the print.
Into the next 40 years
Waterlooville-based Hampshire Flag was founded by Roy Carr who started out producing PVC banners in his loft. Forty years on, it’s still a family affair with daughter Angela Saunders now MD and her son Robert also working for the firm.
Today it has a turnover exceeding £3m and 32 staff, many of which have been with the business for over 20 years. “We're not just a print company. We have a finishing department for our flags which consists of a bank of 12- 15 sewing machine operatives, who are literally in there sewing flags and many other textile products all day, every day. They have been with us a very long time and are highly skilled producing amongst other things, complicated Royal flags that take 2-3 days to hand sew,” says Rod.
While flags will remain the core business, the company is preparing for reinvention. Three new members of staff are earmarked to join the company this year and the new Mimaki technology will help usher in the next 40 years.