A leader in the production of high quality, luxury retail displays for some of the world's leading brands, Leicester-based Impact Retail prides itself on a strategically-driven and creative mindset. Its 76-strong team includes designers and project managers who have helped many companies enhance their brands with striking visual displays.
Impact Retail had spent many years outsourcing its digital print work - but in March of last year, they invested in Fujifilm's Onset X1. Impressed with the results, the company soon became a BETA test site for the new, automated Onset X1 HS solution and following two months of successful testing, Impact Retail has now become the first company in the world to invest in the Onset X1 HS.
"Due to the nature of the brands we work with, the quality of our finished products is critical to everything we do," says Westley Allen, Print Manager at Impact Retail. "Reducing lead times is also very important, to ensure that we always support our clients to achieve challenging in-store launch dates.
"Up until mid-2020, we had outsourced the vast majority of our print work, but we decided we wanted to have more control over quality and lead times and looked into options to bring it in-house. We ultimately felt that the first few machines we looked at lacked the set up and print speed levels we needed, and once that became clear, the Onset was really the only option.
"We could immediately see that the Onset X1 could deliver on the print quality front and it certainly ticked the speed box too. We did a site visit to Inca Digital's Cambridge facility to see the Onset in action for ourselves - from then on, we were sold.
"This was by far the biggest CapEx we'd ever undertaken as a business - so it was not a decision we took lightly, but the speed and quality were of such a high standard that we were confident it was a good strategic long-term investment."
Covid-19 delayed the installation of the Onset X1 at Impact Retail, which was initially planned for March 2020, with the machine fully installed in July. "We were blown away by the quality it produced and the speed it worked at, and were immediately able to adjust our workflow, reducing lead times and increasing the flexibility of our scheduling," continues Allen.
With a strong relationship now formed, Impact Retail agreed in October 2020 to be a test site for the more advanced, automated Onset X1 HS. "Given how well things had gone, we were very much open to incorporating robotics onto the X1 to boost speeds still further," says Allen. "It already ran fast, but we felt that if we could produce the same quality print even faster, we were looking at a game-changer. Seeing it in action, we were immediately impressed. The automatic unloading of substrates greatly reduces set up times and the versatility in terms of media the robotics can handle is very impressive."
Impact Retail's full investment in the Onset X1 HS was finalised in December, and the company is delighted with the results, declaring the machine a huge success. "Combining the technology with a strategic change in working patterns, we have now doubled production capacity. This means we can now work with more clients, more brands and still provide the same exceptional service we pride ourselves on.
"This investment also enables us to venture into more bespoke work, smaller volume production runs and projects that require faster turnaround times that may have been challenging to provide previously.
"Initially, we were printing to display and fluted boards for the temporary display side of the business. We're now broadening the range of substrates and applications, allowing us to print even more of our premium retail display work in-house.
"Investing in the Onset X1 HS is the single biggest investment this company has ever made and we can safely say it has transformed our business. It's one of the best things we've ever done. We had originally envisaged the Onset taking on around 80% of the digital print jobs we were outsourcing - with the remaining 20% and all our litho work continuing to be outsourced. But it has exceeded our expectations massively. We have, in fact, now brought all of our digital print and litho work in-house - with the exception of a few speciality print jobs - and we're printing more than double the volume we'd anticipated. When business gets back up to pre-pandemic levels - we'll do even more."
Allen also has high praise for the staff who helped to get the Onset X1 HS up and running: "The teams at Fujifilm and Inca have been great. Everyone we have dealt with has been extremely helpful, very knowledgeable and patient with us throughout the process."
Matt Brooks, Head of Products & Solutions at Inca Digital Printers Ltd says: "Impact Retail are a fantastic customer for us to work with and their dedicated team immediately saw the benefits the Onset X1 HS could deliver to their business. Impact's drive for excellence, coupled with their desire for high quality and fast job turnaround times suited what Onset X1 HS offered. This was the perfect match for us as a partner and an early adopter of the new technology."
Kevin Jenner, Business Manager at Fujifilm Graphic Systems Europe says: "Impact Retail's customers are luxury brands who demand high quality products and prompt, reliable delivery. We're delighted the Onset X1 HS has given them the flexibility to improve their level of service by transforming their business so fundamentally. We look forward to a long working relationship with them."