Labels & Packaging
All Print Supplies’ (APS) is recognised as one of the UK's leading independent suppliers of sign vinyl and materials to the sign, exhibition and display markets, providing a well stocked range of print vinyls including sign vinyls for sign makers, self adhesive vinyls, solvent, latex and aqueous printing media, laminates, print finishing films, letter cutting vinyl, plotting media and solvent and eco solvent printing inks - everything for printing and professional graphics applications.
The company’s rapid growth and success coincides neatly with the wide format digital inkjet revolution in sign making, but it is not, in fact, a coincidence. Managing director Kevin Wallace, now in charge of the company his father established in 1984, seized on the reality that digital printing was the future as early as anyone.
Mr. Wallace says he can remember the days of the first digital machines, when he would visit his customers and often see camp beds installed next to the ‘cutting-edge’ technology of the day. “On all-night print runs they had to sleepover in order to be on hand to change the ink cartridges over!” he says.
From originally supplying self-adhesive materials to print sector - sheets for screen and rolls for labels – to now having nearly 3000 product lines of media and inks, APS’s knack for discerning which way the display industry is going has helped it come a long way.
For example, when the Encad NovaJet II aqueous printer came along, Wallace recognised its potential and invested heavily in new converting equipment required to produce mini-rolls for inkjet.
“But what our customers were really waiting for was a wide format printer that would allow them to print onto uncoated media and get a few years outdoor life,” says Kevin.
According to him, this arrived in early 2000 in the shape of the Raster Graphics Arizona wide format printer. APS was again quick of the mark and brought to market ready-profiled self-adhesive vinyls and other media. Its quick entry into the market helped propel the company into a new 26,000 square-foot premises and it has continued to innovate and improve its product portfolio to support the rapid rise of digital inkjet printing.
While proud of the past, it is the future that Wallace likes to talk about most and he is a firm and vocal believer in the opportunities of the digitally printed display market: “At its best, this sector enjoys the kind of low volume high margin work that mainstream printers can only dream about. With the right combination of media, ink and equipment you can apply printed graphics to almost anything now, which printers should find incredibly exciting.”
So, what are these opportunities? Well, Wallace says that despite the high-street’s problems, the point of sale sector has been kept in relatively good shape because retailers must keep their displays fresh. Characteristics of the market include good volumes and quality of client, strong on-going business and more diverse and creative work.
“As a result of retailers seeking to maximise shop-space, the clearest trend I have seen in this sector is the increase in the use of floor graphics,” says Wallace. “And media manufacturers have responded accordingly, producing self-adhesive products that can be applied to a much wider range of surfaces including tiled and wooden floors and direct to brick, for example.
“But following this, those same properties have seen enterprising signmakers apply them to direct to walls – opening up a whole new market in decals and illustrations for interior decorators.”
Vehicle graphics is another exciting market enjoying strong and sustained growth, particularly in what Wallace calls ‘vehicle tuning films’. “When applied on a car or commercial vehicle, these robust films change the appearance and colour of a vehicle in a manner which is far more cost-effective than a paint job and offers extra protection against damage caused by scratches or stone chips.”
This is reflected by the fact many manufacturers are quickly introducing new variations to their ranges, including two of APS’s main suppliers – Mactac and LG Hausys - who have added a strong new portfolio of products in this area to meet customer demand for a broader spectrum of colours and finishes.
APS has implemented some straight forward but highly valuable ways to support customers exploring new markets and experimenting with new applications. This includes the ‘cash-flow friendly’ ability to purchase as little as one square metre of media as well as there being no minimum order charge on any of its products.
So what does Wallace think the future holds for APS itself? “We want to be known as the largest and best independent supplier of media to the sign and digital market,” he says. “We have lived and breathed this sector for over 20 years and know what our customers are up against; instant deadlines, last minute changes. We understand them completely. Therefore our philosophy is based on being fast, flexible and friendly. All supported by industry hardened personnel.”
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