Kornit prepares for UK growth
Monday, September 14, 2020
Kornit Digital is setting up a UK office to support what it predicts will be significant growth in the UK market for direct-to-garment and direct-to-fabric printing as a result of reshoring due to sustainability benefits of on-demand production and the exponential rise in online retail.
According to the Israeli printer manufacturer the UK is its largest market in EMEA with around 130 customers.
“The UK is a big one for us… we’ve got a significant client base and we also see the market potential there as being really strong, so it made sense,” said Chris Govier, Kornit Digital managing director, EMEA.
The firm has an established portfolio of direct-to-garment (DTG) print engines, and last year entered the direct to fabric (DTF) market with its Presto S waterless single-step roll-to-roll printer.
The firm sees the UK as offering a significant growth opportunity, not least because pre-Covid its online retail market was worth £76bn. And while Govier said making predictions was difficult, he hoped that Kornit would be able to treble its UK business over the next four years.
“With the customer and market maturity and online penetration, the opportunity to grow the business is huge on the DTG side and on the DTF side, which is an area we’re relatively new to in the market. What we’re finding with the brands like Boohoo and ASOS are making quite strong statements about them wanting to bring production back to the UK, which ties in with where we are.”
He said that this combined with the “ecological disaster” of traditional textile printing processes, the fact that 30% of clothing never gets sold and the lockdown damage to the traditional global supply chains, then the drop shipping and on demand textile/fashion models were likely to see exponential growth.
“The requirements to be more sustainable and the fact that consumers are far more aware of the impact of fast fashion will see a drive to what we call smart fashion, and that will be good for everybody.
“If we [all] get it right, it will fundamentally change the face of fashion in the UK.”
As a result of the new strategy, last month Kornit ended its UK partnership with reseller Adelco Screen. However, while Kornit UK will handle all aftermarket and consumables support, including ink sales, it will continue to work with reseller Amaya, which focus on the more entry-level systems.
“We recognise that the UK market is extremely large and the opportunities are such that working with Amaya is a really good fit,” said Govier.
The establishing of a UK office follows Kornit buying Macclesfield-headquartered cloud-based software platform provider Custom Gateway last month.
Kornit’s new UK office will share Custom Gateway’s Macclesfield base and make use of some its back office functions.
The business already had an eight-strong home-based team spread across the UK, the majority of which were service and aftersales support functions, but it plans to increase the UK headcount to around 20 by the end of next year.
“We also have a couple of sales heads at the moment, senior guys, and we’re looking to further enhance that function through the rest of this year and will continue to invest in that,” said Govier.
Until now, even though it had UK staff, the business didn’t have a dedicated country manager for the UK as it reported to Kornit’s 80-staff EMEA headquarters in Düsseldorf, Germany, but Govier hinted that will change in the coming weeks with a new appointment.
Currently there are no plans to set up a UK demonstration facility, as the firm’s German facility already offers a purpose built customer experience centre. It can also leverage its significant customer UK customer base for site visits when required.
“We have some really fantastically loyal customers and we’re actually building a global fulfilment network as well, for where customers and brands that want to produce across multiple countries,” said Govier.
“This will also give us the ability to take customers into certain places and not just see the systems' output, but also understand the workflow and how we can optimise and automate as well.”
While Düsseldorf operates the EMEA spares distribution hub and UK engineers have van kits for “high frequency” parts, due to the number of UK installs and the predicted growth the business is in the process of finalising a UK spares and consumables hub just outside Coventry, which will offer 90% plus of available spares turned around in a day. It plans for the UK hub to be up and running before the end of October.