M Partners is building a portfolio of wide format printers and service packages adding representation of Canon’s inkjet machines to the South Korean DGI manufactured machines. And further agreements are likely to follow as the company expands M Partners Wide.
The Canon line up will allow M Partners to attack the hard proofing market, which Canon alone has been unable to do. Murray Lock, joint managing director of M Partners Wide says: “Canon products offer us interesting opportunities with printers who are seeking an effective proofing solution. The wide format solutions from Canon are aimed squarely at this sector and have been developed with printers in mind. We believe that they offer the quality of print that is an essential ingredient to a printed proof.”
It is currently a market segment dominated by Epson, but M Partners believes that there is opportunity to open the market with a product that is already used by photographers and is specified to meet the requirements of contract proofing.
It joins the DGI 3.2m wide Velajet VE 320 4D rolled printer. This offers resolution up to 1440dpi and a throughput of 120m2/hr at the lowest 360 x720dpi resolution. Mark Stribley, joint managing director of M Partners comments: “This is a sector that we have been monitoring for some while. It is no great secret that much of the printing equipment market right now is static at best. Wide format continues to grow.
"However, we didn't want to enter the market with a “me too” product. We believe that the impressive build quality of DGI equipment gives us several important points of difference with which to announce our arrival in this market: it is extremely well designed, and built with the best of South Korean know-how and technology, combined with Japanese quality.”
Until now M Partners has looked after equipment targeted at the commercial print sector, GUK folders, Steinemann laminating machines and Mitsubishi printing presses. However with commercial print at best an uncertain market, the need to find a growth sector has led to wide format print, where despite the margins and growth that is possible, few suppliers are addressing the commercial print market directly. Many have come either from the sign sector or from office equipment, not graphic arts.
“There are two areas of growth," says Lock, “wide format and labels. We started doing our homework and felt there was an opportunity for us. It’s a different business model with lots of third party ink suppliers, but because we already have contacts with printers, we could add something.”
The company is in the process of adding a technical sales specialist to focus on the workflow and integration opportunities. And because of the background that M Partners has, it is happy to go through the issues with print customers on a firm basis rather than be focused on a quick sale, “That is definitely our USP,” Lock adds. “We already have our foot in the door with printers.”