Northern Flags completes factory move and bumper kit investment

By Richard Stuart-Turner, Tuesday 09 January 2018

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Wide-format printer Northern Flags and sister company FaberExposize UK have completed a relocation to Millshaw in Leeds, investing more than £1m into the move and new digital equipment.

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Northern Flags' new factory is four times the size of its previous premises

The move to the new leased factory, which is four times the size of the firm’s previous premises, also in Leeds, was completed over the period between Christmas and New Year.

The investment sees the company expand beyond specialist fabric production of flags, POS and events branding into a wide range of new products such as vinyl, display boards, stickers, branded interiors, FSDUs and signage.

The business historically acted as an independent sales office for Faber Group print facilities in Europe and Thailand and only started UK printing when it invested in two Dgen inline fixation dye-sub printers two years ago. This was later supplemented by a Durst Omega printer and an HP Latex machine.

The Dgen and Durst kit has now been sold on, with the business investing in a raft of Agfa equipment to sit alongside a Zünd G3 cutter and a Monti Antonio 901 calender heat transfer press at the new factory.

In the past month it has become the first UK company to install Agfa’s new Avinci DX3200 dye-sublimation printer and it has also taken delivery of an Anapurna hybrid printer.

“The UK operation was incredibly successful and allowed us to shorten lead times and add increasing flexibility and new products to our offer. But we recognised we needed far larger capacity and width capability of at least 3.2m,” said Northern Flags managing director Iain Clasper-Cotte.

“The factory is already pre-wired for another three printers, and a lot of the choice of which printers we will buy depends on the shape of the business as it evolves in the next three to six months.

“Since we came here we’ve already seen huge demand for dye-sublimation, which we expected, so it’s highly likely we’ll sign for another one of those to get it into place before our peak season.”

Clasper-Cotte added the firm was quickly impressed by Agfa. “A lot of our business is flags and on all of our demos with the Agfa printers we got exceptional show-through. With a lot of printers you often don’t get the show-through at the back with flag work, or you end up with 50% of the colour on the back than on the front.

“We were also keen to have a fabric printer that was particularly good for backlit display because we’re doing a lot more of that now. We did a lot of sampling on that and we’ve been really pleased with it.”

In 2011 Northern Flags’ founder retired and Dutch company FaberExposize took majority control of the firm with Clasper-Cotte joining and investing in 25% of the business.

Since then he said the company has grown "substantially", supplying print to major sporting events including the FA Cup and both the Commonwealth and Olympic games. It has also expanded into both the retail and automotive sectors.

“We were fortunate that, with FaberExposize’s support, we could rapidly enter new markets using their international network of print factories to ensure that we then invested in the print machinery required for our expanded client base,” said Clasper-Cotte.

“Bringing more capacity ahead of Brexit also allows us certainty for the UK market, and flexibility for our international clients through our facilities in Poland, Germany, France and Holland.”

Clasper-Cotte said the 27-staff UK operation, which is in the process of recruiting four additional sewing and finishing staff, is expecting to double its turnover in the next two to three years.

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