Gardners in £1m-plus spend

Max Goldbart
Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Wide-format printer Gardners has invested heavily in new equipment, purchasing three EFI printers, finishing kit and also becoming the official licence holder for all Agripa Fleet Graphics products.

Gardners spent more than £1m on the kit, which includes two 5m-wide reel-to-reel EFI Matans, the first to be installed in the UK, and an EFI Vutek GS2000 LX Pro.

Gardners’ managing director James Morris said: “What the EFIs offer us in terms of being above and beyond other bits of kit is that they are very adaptable and like unusual substrates.

“We produce quite a bit on environmentally friendly substrates, which tend to be more difficult than your standard stock items and quite a lot of superwide printers just don’t like these unusual substrates. We did quite a lot of comprehensive tests on different stocks across quite a lot of different manufacturers and those Matans really nailed it for us on unusual substrates.”

The Matans operate at speeds of up to 353sqm/hr and come with a white colour option. They were installed last month and follow on from the purchase of two Durst Rho 512Rs last year.

The Vutek is an LED-UV hybrid printer and comes with grayscale technology. It prints up to 186sqm/hr on a range of substrates, and has eight colours plus white.

Gardners also invested in finishing equipment, including an S.M.R.E Engineering 5m-static bed digital plotter-cutter and two high frequency welders, from Zermatt and Fiab.

The finishing kit was purchased to help support Gardners’ new Agripa Fleet Graphics side of the business, now called Agripa at Gardners, which it purchased the full license for in April for an undisclosed sum.

It has taken over the Agripa office in Glasgow, and hired Glen Lamont as Glasgow operations director and David McCallum as sales director.

Agripa offers a range of products that provide a fast turnaround time when changing banners on the sides of home-delivery vehicles. It is mainly used by retailers, supermarkets and local authorities.

It comprises a twin-lock “Velcro-type mechanism”, which is applied to the vehicle, at which point a plastic extrusion is then used to hold an Agripa panel in place. The Agripa panel is held together by a Cader edge, which is attached to the frame of the vehicle. A banner can then slide off the vehicle in a smooth motion.

Morris is hopeful Gardners’ new arm can boost the business.

He said: “We have absolutely noticed a difference. We would expect multimillion pound revenues from Agripa. It’s an interesting take on retail. In terms of print volume, it’s quite an untapped opportunity.

“It is one of those areas in retail and print that is growing not shrinking, which is one of those hard-to-find market areas when you think about what’s happening in the world of retail, but the growth of home delivery and the ability to change graphics quickly in a distribution world is extremely good for us.”

Gardners has also expanded its sales office in Covent Garden. Its main 16,000sqm manufacturing plant in Cardiff employs 90 people, with 14 currently in Glasgow and six in the sales office. Its turnover is currently £14m. 

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