Automating wide-format cutting

X1 brings in Duplo cutting table to secure profitable growth

Eckford (L), with Iapichino: the wide-format business is going very well
Eckford (L), with Iapichino: the wide-format business is going very well

Fulfillment and digital printing firm X1 has bought a new Duplo PFi Blade B2 digital cutting table to support a growth strategy that aims to push the company to £2m turnover.

Arriving in mid-June 2024, the Blade will be operational by the end of the month, working to support X1’s new in-house wide-format business, which was acquired earlier in the year as part of the same push for growth.

Acquiring one-man firm Solo Creative on 1 January 2024, X1 brought onboard Piero Iapichino and his two Mimaki JV33 wide-format printers.

George Eckford, X1’s managing director, told Printweek: “It’s gone really well for us, to be honest, which is why we’re looking at expanding, and why we purchased this machine.

We’ve expanded on his client base, and took on some good clients. It’s a growth market for us, as we’ve been able to become more competitive – internally, we’ve been able to sell to existing clients much more competitively [now that we print wide-format in-house].”

The new cutting machine will be of particular use to the firm for its ability to cut magnetic-backed materials, a particular bonus for one of the company’s larger clients.

“We’ve had to outsource that previously, even though we do a lot – so the machine will allow us to bring it in house, and produce even more. Given that the company we do it for is looking to buy more, it seemed logical to automate it internally rather than keep it an external process,” Eckford said.

X1 developed its growth strategy in late 2023 after taking on a business development and marketing professional in September. 

“We’re now eight or nine months in, and we’ve grown. It’s not quite where we want it, but we’re on the right path.

“We’re in the process of e ,nlarging our client base, trying to sell more to our client base, and expanding our offering.”

Another recent acquisition of a stationery firm has opened up the schools market to X1, helping it achieve these goals – and Eckford and the team have been busy attending Chamber of Commerce networking events over the South of England to build networks and drum up business.

The firm’s new burst of activity following Covid has not gone unnoticed, with X1 shortlisted for Thames Valley’s Small Business of the Year award.

X1 is even now looking at taking on an apprentice – something it has not done for six years – to support the newfound growth in wide-format print, which accounts for around 10% of the company’s revenue.

“With the new investment, we’re thinking about putting out feelers – the idea is to expand the department. At the moment, we’re a bit limited by our size, so we’re just toying with moving premises and all sorts – it’s all part of the strategy to get growth back in the business,” Eckford said.