Flying the flag with Mimaki.
Modestly describing themselves as a ‘cottage industry’ rather plays down the fact that over the past 14 years in business, Banners For All, of Farnham Common in Buckinghamshire, UK, has become acknowledged experts in the field of soft signage.
Run by father and son team, Ralph and Ashley Ballhatchet, the business prides itself in its family oriented values but has worked hard to diversify, with some innovative and unusual business development strategies.
Established in 1999, the business took advantage of new technologies to print direct to polyester cloth with water based sublimation inks, to produce colourful flags and banners. Eliminating the traditional screen process of cloth printing enabled them to remove setup costs and increase the colour range to full photographic, whilst dramatically reducing the price to their customers.
By continually embracing ever developing technologies, Banners For All quickly moved from simple flags and banners for birthdays and anniversaries into the wider commercial and retail markets, with a number of high profile names on their client roster.
The right equipment has always been key to their continued success and growth, and Ashley Ballhatchet is keen to extol the virtues of the Mimaki kit that they have run for many years, commenting; “One of the first machines my father ever purchased was a Mimaki TX1600S textile printer, later upgrading to the TX2, which was an incredibly reliable machine. As customer demands became more challenging, we invested in a Mimaki JV33 coupled with a CG-FX Cutter in 2008, to undertake vinyl banner, exhibition graphics and decal production, which previously we had to outsource. The sheer quality of Mimaki’s production output has certainly helped us to keep ahead of the competition and enabled us to expand our offering to customers.”
With expertise developed over many years in the soft signage industry, the company has become something of a specialist in producing bespoke flags for football clubs and supporters across the country, even setting up its own website (www.footballflags.co.uk) providing customers with a ‘one-stop shop’ from which to design their flags from custom templates and order the printed article, all on line.
Premiership and League clubs regularly use their services to produce bespoke promotional flags and banners for their stadiums, as do a host of supporters clubs across the land.
Their Mimaki kit was further upgraded with the addition of a high speed TX400 volume production textile printer in early 2013 and more latterly with a new UJF-6042 flatbed LED UV printer. Ashley explained; “The needs of our clients have continually changed and evolved, and we have had to look at ways of meeting those demands. The addition of smaller scale flatbed UV printing to our portfolio enables us to produce all manner of PoS items, including an exciting range of personalised faceplates for tablet PCs, used for display and promotion purposes.”
Promising quick turnarounds and working all their machines hard, all the time, the importance of excellent service back-up was one of the reasons the business continues to invest in Mimaki kit; “Whenever we’ve needed technical support, the backup service from both our supplier Granthams and Mimaki’s UK distributor Hybrid Services has been excellent and provided much needed continuity of operation.”
‘Cottage Industry’ they may be, but a quick look at their websites; www.bannersforall.co.uk and www.footballflags.co.uk clearly demonstrates how the ability to respond consistently to those ever changing customer demands has allowed them to develop a very successful and multi-layered business operation.
Case study by UV Creative Ltd for Hybrid Services Ltd
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