Located in the Bordeaux wine area (France), Imprimerie Laulan prints premium labels for leading wine producers in the country. For the past twenty years, the company has grown its business steadily, relying on waterless offset printing and Toray thermal waterless plates.
Prost?jov/Czech Republic - Toray Industries Inc., a leading manufacturer of waterless offset plate technology, today reported about the implementation of waterless offset printing using Toray plates at Imprimerie Laulan, one of the landmark label printers for the Bordeaux wine industry. Toray plate technology has helped grow the company's footprint in label printing and triple the company's revenue over the past twenty years.
Founded in the mid-sixties the company serves a customer base of over 100 local wine or food producers. Now in the hands of the third generation of the Laulan family, the company employs 40 people and generates 8 million euros of annual revenue. In the recent years, managing director Olivier Laulan took the business one step further, by acquiring four separate label printing companies across France and bringing them together with Imprimerie Laulan under the Alliance Etiquettes holding company (110 employees, 24 million euros of revenue).
Choosing waterless for a good reason
In the nineties, Imprimerie Laulan saw an increasing demand for adhesive labels that gradually took over from the conventional dry labels the company produced. Also, fine papers with a special pattern or feel were also picking up and required special attention in the inking process. “We needed to move on from our traditional letterpress units to more up-to-date technologies”, says Olivier Laulan. The solution came with waterless offset printing. “We use a full online finishing workflow that includes varnish, double hot foil stamping and cutting, underscores Olivier Laulan. This means we need to slow down the printing cycle upstream, on our semi-rotary presses, to cope with the lower speed of the finishing units”. Conventional offset printing turned out to respond poorly to this constraint, mostly due to inking stability issues. This led Imprimerie Laulan to look into waterless printing. The company made its first investment in waterless in 1995, with Iwasaki presses and Toray thermal waterless plates.
Making the right choice
Experience proved selecting waterless was a winning move. “We originally chose waterless offset printing mostly for its flexibility in adjusting print speed, explains Olivier Laulan. The process demonstrated it fully match our expectations on this aspect, as well as provide the very high level of quality we require. We then discovered waterless printing came with a number of additional benefits. In particular, we get better inking stability that lets us run longer print jobs without having to adjust inking along the way. Also, we have faster make-ready times, which translate into less paper waste. Additionally, waterless limits dot gain, in comparison to conventional offset. This offers increased detail in images and graphics. It also allows for stronger inking, which is useful when printing on patterned papers. Finally, a strong and stable inking means we have no loss of inking when we need to stop a print job to change a paper reel of a hot foil stamping plate”.
A proven investment strategy
Today, Imprimerie Laulan operates two 5 colour Iwasaki waterless presses with inline finishing. Imprimerie Laulan remained faithful to Toray plates ever since they adopted waterless offset printing. “Today, all semi-rotary presses used for label printing are waterless, notes Olivier Laulan. This shows we truly made the right decision. We have also seen Toray's plate technology evolve over time, with more robust plates that hold even longer on the press. This is particularly important when using gold or silver inks that are known to be abrasive”.
Over the past twenty years, Imprimerie Laulan has seen its label business grow by a factor of three and the margins have improved. The company's workforce grew from 20 to 40 people and the outlook is very good.