Bristol Labels has kicked off 2019 under new management and with a new HP Indigo 6900 digital label press.

Stokes: “The Indigo gives us massive capacity to grow the business”

The business was purchased in a management buyout deal late last year by a team led by former sales and marketing manager Ben Stokes who, as of the beginning of this month, has moved up to become managing director following the retirement and relocation to Spain of his father and company founder Paul Stokes.

A new room has been built within the company’s 450sqm premises for the new Indigo, which new managing director Stokes told PrintWeek has been installed and should be up and running from 1 February, following a period of training commencing this week.

The Indigo was chosen following a review of other options on the market from Epson and Xeikon and is replacing an existing Epson SurePress L-4033AW, its first digital press, which was installed in 2015.

“At the time we invested in the Epson it was the perfect machine for us because it was an entry-level, but we had hit capacity on it and therefore we couldn’t progress any further,” said Stokes.

“Our customer base is growing, and the length of run was growing per customer, but we couldn’t be cost-effective because we had no capacity and because of the speed of the machine.”

He added: “So we knew we had to buy a new machine and, after doing our homework, it didn’t take long for us to decide that the Indigo was the right choice.

“We needed to be able to lift all of the work that we had on the Epson and put it straight onto the new press without any issues, and the majority of higher speed presses that were out there were UV.

“That didn’t fit with us because with UV you get a slight tactile finish. It’s a different beast altogether and we’d have been giving our current customer base a different label, which we couldn’t do.”

Stokes said Bristol Labels will be able to run the Indigo at up to 27m/min in four-colour mode, up from the 5m/min it was achieving with its Epson machine. The press can also run at around 60m/min in one or two-colour mode.

“It will do everything we currently do in a month in a week, so it gives us massive capacity to grow the business, and there are jobs that we currently run flexo – because we still have an eight-colour Nilpeter – that will maybe switch over because it just makes sense.”

The new press is also specified with HP’s ElectroInk Silver option and an inline priming unit (ILP) that will enable the business to more easily print on a wider range of materials, including textured stocks.

“We just wanted to be completely up to date. We thought that if we were going to invest then we may as well do it properly – if we hadn’t then we’d just be kicking ourselves next year or in two years’ time,” said Stokes.

He added the business will continue to use its existing GM DC330 finishing unit and will be changing its shift pattern to handle the additional work from the new press.

“We currently have two flexo printers that work shifts, with 16 hours on press, but that’s naturally going to change so we’ll have eight hours a day on the Indigo but 16 hours a day on the GM, which should hopefully cope with the demand of the Indigo. That might change in the future, but for the time being I’m hoping this will solve that problem.”

Bristol Labels, which has also undergone a major rebranding exercise including a new website since the MBO took place, has nine staff and turns over around £1.4m. It predominantly serves businesses in the food and drink, medical, cosmetics and logistics sectors.



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