Next boosts in-house print op with Ricoh spend

Jo Francis
Thursday, January 28, 2021

Retailer Next has gone public with details about how its latest spend on Ricoh kit for its in-house print department helped the business adapt to Covid-19 trading restrictions.

Next: online sales and keeping warehouses in action came to fore last year
Next: online sales and keeping warehouses in action came to fore last year

Next has an in-house reprographics operation at its Leicester HQ, that had already been running a Ricoh Ri100 direct-to-garment printer and EFI H1625 LED wide-format hybrid printer, also supplied by Ricoh.

Last spring the operation invested in a Ricoh T7210 UV flatbed and Pro L5160 latex device with the aim of controlling more of its print requirements in-house.

The investment had been under discussion prior to the Covid-19 pandemic taking hold, but after the spend was given the green light the timing proved prescient for Next Retail.

Reprographics controller Robert Foote said that although the new kit was initially put to work producing traditional in-store graphics, such as window displays for Next’s 550 stores, the need to pivot into different products rapidly became apparent.

The in-house department was soon busy producing floor graphics – initially to allow its warehouses to remain operational, and then for its stores when they were allowed to reopen lockdown measures were eased last year. 

The department ended up producing thousands of Covid-related floor graphics within days.

“In the lead up to the first lockdown, I noticed that many supermarkets had begun to install floor graphics, so I decided to get ahead of the game and purchase a lot of vinyl,” Foote explained.

"This meant that when we were asked to create floor graphics for our own warehouses, the Ricoh machines were able to produce this work.”

Foote said that at the time it was also tricky finding external print suppliers that were able to help, with many print business mothballed.

“Thanks to our new Ricoh machines, we were able to produce the graphics we needed and keep our online service running for customers across the UK and Ireland,” he added.

Floor graphics were also subsequently produced to allow Next stores to operate in accordance with Covid-19 requirements.

In the last quarter of 2020, online sales at Next jumped by 38%.

Apart from graphics, the PLC makes extensive use of variable data printing technology across its operations, including on its in-store product labelling.

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