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IR talks to…Matthew Guise, sales director, Macro Art


First Matt, can you talk us through the circumstances leading up to the MBO?

Basically, former MD John Walker got ill in 2012. At the time, me, James and Michael took over the day-to-day running of the business while John was off convalescing. In 2012 we grew by 20% - turnover was up and so was profit – and that led the three of us to ask whether there was a way we could move forward given that John was ill and not getting any younger. So we approached him with a potential MBO when he came back in 2013. He was always of the mind that he wanted the business to carry on with the people who were already running the business rather than sell it to the highest bidder so he was very open to the MBO suggestion. We put together a package which took quite a long time to get to – which enabled the MBO to go through, though unfortunately not until after John had passed away. 

Make love, not war

Stephanie Gutnik, marketing and business development manager ?at digital signage software company BroadSign International, explains why printegration partnerships need to be developed between printers and digital signage providers.

Integrating large-format printed and digital signage is a battle that won’t bode well for the defeated. It’s accepted that the out-of-home (OOH) industry is moving away from its longstanding static medium status to a channel that acts as a point of fusion for the latest trends in advertising and consumer engagement. Such a transition beckons advertising dollars from other media: OOH advertising revenue in the UK reached an unprecedented £990 million in 2013 and secured a 5.5% share of all UK ad revenue. What’s more, digital out-of-home revenue made up almost a quarter of the OOH total, with £214 million in 2013 compared to £11 million ten years earlier. (Outdoor Media Centre)

Hands On: Inca Onset S40


The Onset S40 promises high productivity but does it justify the cost? Nessan Cleary asks the question.

Until a few years ago people thought of digital printing as being only for short run until a couple of high production flatbeds appeared on the scene to challenge offset and screen printing. This month Image Reports looks at one of these, the Onset S40i, developed by Inca Digital but sold by Fujifilm. 

Creating the right team

Although business lore is full of lone geniuses, sustained corporate success is rarely a one-person show. Here business consultant Walter Hale offers some guidance on the factors to consider when trying to build a strong team of leaders.

In an uncertain, complex, fast moving marketplace, even smaller companies may stand or fall on the quality of the team that leads it. A resilient, varied, flexible team that understands the values of the business – and has a common vision of what success look like – can give business a decisive, enduring competitive advantage.

Catalytic converters

The University of Sheffield is purifying the air around a poster it is displaying for a year. What’s more, it says the technology used to do it could be cheaply applied to other printed billboards.

A 20m x 20m printed banner hanging on the side of the University of Sheffield’s Alfred Denny Building is cutting pollution thanks to the use of a new technology that its developer says could be applied to other billboards.

Widening the net while watching the wallet


Stylo production director Simon Wheeler explains what the company is doing to attract youngsters, while keeping a tight reign on the recruitment budget.

“Recruitment agencies are my least favourite method of recruitment. It takes away the hassle but it’s expensive, and there’s always the danger that you’ll get career agency people – that is to say, those who go to a firm for a couple of years then go back to the agency to find them another job. We want to attract people who want to stay with us.” So says Simon Wheeler, production director at Stylo, who is very involved in the company’s recruitment strategy – and that means proactively seeking youngsters with a certain attitude and mindset. 

Think Bigger: Hybrid Services

John de la Roche explains how a partnership with South Cheshire College is stimulating wide-format interest and creativity among young designers.

With an array of Mimaki printers at its fingertips, distributor Hybrid Services is no stranger to demonstrating unusual and inspiring large-format digital print applications, but a desire to engage with designers and specifiers as well as potential future printers recently prompted a project that married the company with South Cheshire College. The end result turned Hybrid’s Mimaki showroom into an application showcase, having got young designers actively involved the process.

The end...

…could be the start of something big. Nessan Cleary brings you up to speed on cutting tables for finishing rigid materials.

 Many print jobs will need some form of finishing to turn them into saleable products. When it comes to rigid materials this usually means a cutting table, capable of cutting out shapes, or of adding creasing or V-cuts to create folds for packaging or 3D items such as POP display boxes. This kind of work is often done manually, but as volumes build up then the ability of a cutting table to repeat the same precise cuts continually starts to make economic sense.

On Test: Jetrix KX7D

The Korean built Jetrix printers appear to offer good value for money, so how did this Jetrix model fare on test? Nessan Cleary reports.

Inktec, which was founded in 1992 in Korea, is best known as an ink manufacturer but has also developed its own range of Jetrix UV flatbed printers. It has a European office, based in Witney, Oxfordshire, which has installed some 35 printers in the last three years. Last year Inktec launched the first of its KX series, which now include the compact KX3, the mid-range KX5 and the much larger KX7, which we've tested this month. 

Pay as you go

Can the software subscription model work for large format/sign providers? Jurgen Verhulst, applications specialist at SAi, explores the issue. 

In April this year, SAi introduced a subscription model for its signmaking software package Flexi. The ability to subscribe to powerful software programs on a monthly basis, funded from revenue rather than the capital investment required for an outright purchase, is becoming both more common and popular says SAi’s applications specialist Jurgen Verhulst. With advantages for large-format print/sign providers, software developers and dealers alike, this method of software delivery is seen by many as the future business model, but does it really make economic sense? Here Verhulst argues the point. 

Over to you... Luke Nicholson, Director, Matt Vinyl Graphics

What’s having the greatest impact on your business at the moment?

Our clients new and old wanting vehicle graphics and trying to keep up with the supply and demand. 

Think Bigger: MTEX Solutions


How the company is driving creativity and innovation in the interiors and fashion industries.

When MTEX burst onto the wide-format print scene three years ago it was with a view to presenting a direct-to-textile printer series that would meet the demands not only of the sign and display market, but which would also appeal to designers and creative professionals in the fashion, textiles and interiors


Media suppliers on the move


Why consumables suppliers like Contra Vision are spending more time in collaboration with you  - and your customers.

With their expertise printers can add value to almost any project, if only they seize the opportunity. Of course many jobs require fast turnaround and low costs and it’s not always in a printer’s interest to up-sell solutions but, then again, thinking about unusual materials and novel applications can result in truly striking outcomes. Yet so often the focus is on price when it comes to print companies quoting on jobs, and that can really limit creativity – and the sales of higher end specialist media. Which is why some consumables suppliers, like Contra Vision, are turning their marketing and sales attention to end-users.

An industrial revolution


Nessan Cleary looks at how new inks developed for wide-format printers highlight the printer vendors’ growing interest in industrial printing – and what that means for you.

 It’s easy to talk about new printers and to analyse their performance and associated cost. But by and large it's the consumables - the ink and the media - that can determine new applications or potential cost savings. Most wide-format vendors are working on new inks - this is mainly because they are looking to develop new markets in industrial printing. But, don’t lose faith – this can also benefit the graphic arts market as these newer inks are designed to work with a broader range of materials without needing to use primers. It means that existing wide-format PSPs are in a good position to reach out to new markets, and or provide new applications to existing display graphics customers etc.

Ricoh L4160

altThis month Nessan Cleary tests the latex printer that marks Ricoh’s first foray into wide-format printing.

The market for latex printers has been completely dominated by HP, despite a challenge from Mimaki. Now Ricoh, which supplies the Gen5 heads used by Mimaki, has entered the fray with the L4100 printer, available in 1.3 and 1.6m widths. Ricoh has rebadged Mimaki's JV400 LX series, and there's no discernible difference between the two apart from the sales and servicing, with Ricoh targeting its existing customer base of commercial printers and corporate print rooms. 

Hands On: HP Wall Art

These days everything can be personalised. So how useful is this HP solution? Nessan Cleary asks those who have bought it.

Home furnishings and interior decoration are rapidly becoming popular wide-format print applications, with wall coverings high on the list. There’s a good range of wallpaper substrates available now and HP has built a complete solution around its latex printers that also includes design software, called Wall Art.