Increased business competition in a globalised market demands creative and cost-effective ways to stand out from the crowd.
More than ever before, the pressure is on print-on-demand and large-format printing businesses to deliver high-quality solutions while keeping profit margins healthy. At the same time, large-scale printing businesses need to find printing technology that offers the most cost-competitive collections, without compromising on quality.
In this article, we focus on how Canon’s new printing technology provides one large-format printing business, Sydney-based Signature Prints, with a fresh point of difference as the company continues to expand globally.
Establishing a printing enterprise
Founded by New Zealand-born David Lennie in the late ’80s, Signature Prints began to take shape when David and his wife, Helen, collaborated to restore the late Florence Broadhurst’s bold designs.
Through hard work and dedication, they revived this once-forgotten designer’s work into a 21st century icon. Their work has now seen the Florence Broadhurst archive turn into a globally recognised and widely acclaimed collection, which is considered a national treasure.
Today, they produce bespoke textiles, hand-printed wallpapers, limited edition art, and lifestyle and homewares products. They export to 27 countries including New Zealand, Japan, Hong Kong, China, Saudi Arabia, Italy, France, England and the US.
Competitive demands force a shift to digital printing
When Signature Prints began operating, it produced all printing products on traditional silk screens. However, changing market dynamics and increasing international competition recently saw the company invest in its first digital technology, an Océ ColorWave 700 wide-format printer from Canon.
“Signature Prints’ point of difference has always been its quality and bespoke approach,” David says. “But printing by hand in Australia means your prices are always going to be at the top end of the price bracket. We knew we had to find a way to create more cost-competitive collections without compromising our standards.”
Making the right investment
Despite the pressure to shift to digital, investing in the right solution proved initially challenging.
“I’ve always extolled the visual virtues of traditional silk screen with its ability to put such rich, heavy layers of colour onto a substrate, so the thin layer of colour delivered by many of the early digital printers simply wasn’t acceptable.”
David decided to invest in the ColorWave 700 as it was the first printer with the potential to match the depth of colour and sumptuous visual effects achievable by silk screen.
“We watched the market for two years, but just couldn’t find ‘the look’ until our search led us to Canon.”
The business found that the printer’s impressive media versatility easily handled the specialty stocks used by Signature Prints, including high-shine metallic wallpaper stocks, which required considerable collaboration between Canon and Signature Prints to perfect.
While Signature Prints had previously outsourced certain silk-shine designs to an offshore gravure printer, the investment in the new ColorWave 700 meant the company could obtain the same results in-house. This was thanks to the Océ CrystalPoint® technology, which delivers stunning, high-quality print results, offering superior fine detail that can handle even the most complex designs with ease.
“The ColorWave will allow us to grow our market by making new, high-quality wallpaper collections and associated products like friezes and borders, available not only at a lower price point, but also on beautiful bases like metallics,” David says.
Despite significant setbacks in the initial phase, including a flooding event last April that destroyed their first printing investment, David says Canon worked closely with them to ensure they suffered minimal business-flow impact.
“The flood took us back to square one, which was obviously painful and costly, but within five days Canon had delivered a new machine to us, purely on trust. That simply doesn’t happen in this day and age! Their support was fantastic. It allowed us to get up and running again in minimal time and dramatically lessened the impact on our business.”
Moving forward, the shift to digital has brought to the business a fresh wave of efficiencies, which means Signature Prints can focus on the ‘second tier’ Florence Broadhurst collection, as well as develop ranges from other designers.
“We’ve also started the research and development on producing high-end art. When we get the chance, we’re also looking forward to investigating the base-paper offerings from Canon, which I believe have some really exciting potential for us. It’s the ideal solution.”