Fast-expanding Clothes2order has boosted capacity with a £1m investment in new digital t-shirt printing machinery, helping it to keep pace with what chairman Michael Conway calls a UK fashion retailing ‘revolution’.
Clothes2order is one of the first companies in the world to take delivery of a heavy-duty, direct-to-garment printer launched earlier this year by NASDAQ-listed Kornit Digital.
The machine, called the Atlas, can produce up to 160 prints per hour and uses newly-developed inks which are non-hazardous, non-toxic and biodegradable in a waterless printing process.
It is optimised for on-demand printing, a growing part of Clothes2order’s business which involves supplying fashion retailers and brands so they can offer new lines in real-time without the risk of piling up stock which may be wasted.
The arrival of the Atlas alongside other new equipment takes the company’s investment in machinery to over £2.5m in the past few years.
Clothes2order operates from a state-of-the-art production and distribution facility in Trafford Park, Greater Manchester, where it employs 160 staff.
Its core business is creating custom-branded clothing for businesses, teams and communities by printing or embroidering logos and designs on to t-shirts, polo shirts, hoodies, sweatshirts, caps and other items.
The company supplies customers across the UK and in more than 35 countries.
Revenues have soared from £4.4m in 2013 to over £12m in 2018, and the business is looking to double in size over the next few years.
Michael said: “The face of UK retail is changing rapidly. Sustainability, speed and flexibility rather than price have become the key drivers for stores and brands alike, which is transforming the fashion retail supply chain.
“For many years, we’ve seen garments being made in factories in Asia but nowadays, thanks to digital technology and having manufacturing and processing in the UK, retailers and brands are able to operate with minimal stock.”
He added: “We’re thrilled to integrate the Atlas into our manufacturing operations alongside other new equipment.
“It operates at high speed to the highest retail standard print quality in the direct-to-garment industry, which means it is excellent for fashion brands and merchandise stores.
“In addition, it is able to produce more vibrant prints using greener technology, which was another important consideration.
“This investment enhances our commitment to get orders to our customers faster than ever before and allows for much greater capacity in our printing department as we continue to expand the business and build our reputation as a disruptor in the industry.”
Clothes2order’s ability to ensure a rapid turnaround led frozen food chain Iceland to turn to the company when it needed 10,000 t-shirts within three days to raise awareness of its banned ‘Rang-tan’ Christmas TV advert.