Three months after its doors opened for the first time, ESP Smile had shipped 200,000 orders by the end of 2017.
The digital business, a subsidiary of ESP Colour in Swindon, comprises three Kodak and one Indigo digital presses and an Océ Colorado printer for posters and canvas prints. This is supported by finishing equipment and the shipping capacity to distribute orders around the UK and into Europe.
Group CEO Paul Bradley explains that the separate 2,000m2 factory houses ESP Smile that was only secured in August. A Kodak Nexpress and Indigo were moved from the main ESP factory and two additional Nexpress presses, one with a long sheet feed, were acquired. These gave the company a second SX3600 and the long sheet SX3900. Both additional machines had been installed previously at Anton, and came refurbished and with new Kodak DFEs ahead of installation in Swindon.
“According to the contract we signed, we had to have the kit, to have trained the people and have the software in place by mid September,” he says. “We went live in October and in December we handled 102,000 orders, up to 8,000 orders a day.”
This brought the total of separate products created to 326,000 across a total of 197,000 orders. “Each item might be a photobook with 32-120pp, a photo canvas print or a calendar,” Bradley continues. It has also included non conventional products.
The majority of orders were for one or two items, mostly photo products, including calendars and canvas prints, and also mugs and toy bears. Orders, received before the 11am cut off, are produced and dispatched the same day, to customers all over Europe, says Bradley.
And while the investment in the new operation was made to meet the requirements of one customer, the set up can also work as the digital print arm of ESP Colour, handling fast turnaround leaflets that are not suited to the main litho presses for example. “We have more kit that we really needed so that we can operate as a trade service for ourselves and keeping work that would go out previously.”
It is handling work for a broad customer base from individual designers to print management companies and online print businesses.
“We has a very successful year on the litho side,” says Bradley, with installation of a new Kodak Magnus 800 platesetter to bring capacity to 100 plates an hour and ease congestion at points of peak demand.
According to Bradley, the challenge for this year will be to run the digital and litho operations together, to combine fast turnaround print on demand ordered through the internet with print from direct clients. And it will be continuing to develop ESP Golf, a division that offers a complete marketing service, video as well as print, to golf clubs and event organisers.
Three months after the doors opened at ESP Smile, the digital print offshoot of ESP Colour has shipped almost 200,000 orders covering photo books, calendars and printed gift items from an additional 20,000sq ft factory in Swindon. It has been fitted out with three Nexpress and one Indigo presses, a wide format Océ Colorado and full range of finishing equipment.