Reel Label Solutions

Scott-Hughes
Senior Investment Executive

Reel Label Solutions provide labels for chemical, cosmetic, beverage, pharmaceutical and electronic industries with the help of technologies such as digital inkjet, flexographic label prints.

Additionally, using the latest technology, they provide an automatic label inspection system, offering clients print quality, flexibility and an extremely cost-effective process.

Established in August 2001 by founding directors Jonathan Wright, Paul Prothero and Chris Duffin, the Pontyclun-based printing specialist business has become a well-established supplier, so how have they embraced the advancements in technology to build the business to where it is today?

The move to digital inkjet machiner

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Since moving to the Cambrian Industrial Estate in Pontyclun in 2005, Reel Label Solutions has been growing steadily.

In 2011, they had ambitions to secure business from major international manufacturers. To do this, they bought the Jetrion 4830 – a digital label press designed to operate within the modern on-demand nature of the industry - and it would have an exciting impact on their business.

EFI’s Jetrion 4830 makes short run label printing profitable by providing reduced turn-around times, less waste and labour costs, no requirements for plates and faster response times.

The new digital press would help secure business from major international manufacturers in the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries from across the globe, expanding into new sectors and attracting new customers.

Chris said: “Our new Jetrion gave us a range of benefits almost immediately - access to new markets and we expanded the services we offer to existing clients.

“This was by far the biggest investment we made, and the results show we were right to make the move to go digital. We were able to reduce waste and machine downtime as well as impressing clients with the speed which we were able to create their product, and the quality of the labels.”

This would subsequently have an upward effect on the speed of production and their profit margins. In 2012, the company were operating a solid turnover of £1.8million.

Following extensive research, the company selected a second Jetrion as its new digital label printing press - allowing a significant uplift in their production capacity as they were to produce twice as many high-quality digital labels.

“We were a growing business,” explained Jonathan. “We expanded our workforce, expanded our geographic reach and expanded our equipment base.”

In 2016, Reel Label Solutions installed a custom-designed compact digital label converting and finishing system, by Bar Graphic Machinery. It is tailored precisely to the company’s need for yet more efficient, cost-effective production.

Jonathan said: “Performance is critical in sectors such as cosmetics and pharma – labels need to stay in place without fading or peeling, they need to remain hygienic and clearly legible beyond the use by date. In the case of beverages, they also need to be attractive to the consumer despite the sheer volume of information they are required by law to carry.

“This means our label finishing has to be as accurate as technology can make it and, because of the lightning-fast turnaround and sometimes short runs demanded, machinery also has to be fast to set-up and super reliable.”

In 2019, Reel Label Solutions were pleased to announce the installation of their third digital inkjet machine - giving them advantages in capacity, quality, price and lead times.

A new Domino N610i press benefitted from being the fastest digital press on the market, which can run at 75m/min. There are many other advantages with the double layer of white which gave unrivalled opacity and 600×600 dpi print resolution.

Development Bank restructure investment

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In May 2022, the Development Bank of Wales invested £1.2 million in Reel Label Solutions to fund a shareholder restructure and provide funding for capex investment as the company embarked on a programme of growth led by newly promoted Jonathan Wright as Managing Director.

The investment was a mixture of debt and equity, with Mr Wright MD becoming the majority shareholder following the exit of Paul Prothero.

Reel Label Solutions had been approached in relation to a trade sale, but they wanted to pursue a shareholder buy-out instead to avoid any potential relocation from south Wales. The company employs 27 and specialises in high-quality digital labels, in particular short-run production of digital adhesive labels and flexographic label printing.

Jonathan explained: “Chris, Paul and I have worked tirelessly over the last 20 years to build the business. We have had a very loyal and hardworking team who played a significant role in helping us to get to where we are today.

“We had always been mindful of the need to think long-term about our succession planning. We had the opportunity to proceed with a trade sale, but none of us were comfortable with what this might have meant for the team.

“That is why we turned to the Development Bank of Wales – we wanted to understand our options and do what was right for us as individuals and the business as a whole. In turn, they structured a deal with a mix of debt and equity that worked for all shareholders and created a sustainable future for the entire team here in Pontyclun.

“Our focus is now on maximising efficiency and developing opportunities in existing and new markets. This is going to require investment in new equipment so the loan from the Development Bank gives us the extra capital required as we focus on growing the business over the coming years.”

Deputy Fund Manager Joanna Thomas and Investment Executive Scott Hughes structured the investment.

They said: “Jonathan, Chris and Paul had built a robust and sustainable business that is on target to achieve a turnover of £3.5 million this year. With unrivalled experience in the packaging printing industry and a reputation for being able to deliver high quality labelling, there was capacity for further growth and the creation of more jobs over the coming months.

“There are many different ways to plan for succession and fund exit strategies. In this case, we were able to retain ownership of Reel Label Solutions in Wales; help Jonathan to take over the reins and keep the business local. Importantly, we had given the business additional headroom for future growth by enabling them to invest in new equipment and machinery.”