31 Oct ‘Keep investing in future – right now’ – VIGC (Oct ’22)
It is difficult to predict the future, especially as one crisis seems to follow another. Nevertheless, Thijs Claes remains confident about the course he has set for printing company Daddy Kate as ceo. As such, he is pushing ahead with the planned investment in a new digital press – “the HP Indigo 100K is high on our shortlist”: “Our HP Indigo 12000 runs continuously in three shifts. The volume is there. Then we’re not going to scale back those plans because it might be a few difficult years now, are we?”
Thijs Claes has made a name for himself in the printing industry with the way he manages the family business, started by his father. Involvement of employees and transparency about the course of business are key concepts. The clear choice for ‘customer intimacy’ rather than ‘operational excellence’ – “as many other printing companies do”, Claes says – is also bearing fruit. “Our focus on the right customers helps us to weather even difficult times well. Our foundation is solid.”
Investing in the future
In the broad customer portfolio, the retail sector occupies an important place. “In the first months of the corona crisis, we saw a drop in sales there, but after that it was soon back to ‘business as usual’. Many customers actually started communicating more than usual during that period.”
Daddy Kate’s healthy balance sheet also helped the company during the commodity crisis: “As a big player, you then have a better position with suppliers anyway. This way, we are able to keep stocks up.” Claes is tackling the energy crisis by, among other things, investing in solar panels now: “With the current energy prices, that is quickly profitable now.”
All business decisions taken by Claes are guided by the same credo: “We want us to still exist as an independent and autonomous company in a hundred years’ time.” This is also the reason he maintains a high investment cycle: “Investing offers long-term perspective. Not investing puts a brake on our growth.”
New business thanks to HP Indigo
Nevertheless, investments sometimes turn out differently than expected: “We initially installed the HP Indigo 12000 press because of declining print runs in offset. But what we see today: almost no offset work has gone to the digital press. Instead, the HP Indigo has filled up with digital printing – and so that’s all additional new business for us.”
The years of experience with the HP Indigo 12000 have also allowed Thijs Claes and his team to do their homework: “We have been able to make a good calculation of the TCO and also see that the tipping point between offset and digital printing is much lower than is often assumed. The power of digital lies mainly in the extra added value you can deliver with it. We certainly believe in that market, and the volume is there: our machine is running three shifts continuously.”
HP continues to innovate
Daddy Kate is about to invest in a new digital press. The company therefore closely follows technological developments at suppliers such as HP Indigo.
This autumn was all about innovation at HP. In September, the revolutionary HP Indigo V12 label press made its debut at LabelExpo Americas. This machine is equipped with the new LEPx technology, which for HP Indigo is “the platform for the future”.
The same goes for the PageWide Advantage 2200 inkjet press, which HP unveiled this month at the US trade show PRINTING United Expo. With this, HP is also laying a new foundation for the further development of its inkjet technology to respond to the urgent demand for greater productivity, efficiency and cost savings – and above all, the growing need for flexibility.
HP Indigo high on shortlist
Thijs Claes: “For our new investment in a digital press, we also took a good look at inkjet technology. We actually do that every two or three years to see what is on the market and what we can benefit from. We are still doing intensive exercises, collecting a lot of data and looking closely at our order package. We don’t make such a decision on gut feeling.”
“I definitely believe that inkjet has a bright future, but so far HP Indigo still comes out on top every time. The HP Indigo 100K is therefore high on our shortlist. One thing is already certain: the investment will take place on schedule. We are not going to put it off for two years. Especially now, you also have to keep your eye on the future.”