Large Format Review’s latest Spotlight feature focuses on one of the newest entrants to the UK’s large format digital printing industry – Sihl Direct. Although Sihl Direct is a new company, its holding company – Sihl, owned by the Diatec Group of Italy – has a 110 year history and a product range that is already familiar with most people in the industry. Sihl Direct began trading at the start of 2012 and we talked to the man responsible for getting the business up and running in the UK to discover a little more about him, the company and its ambitions…
Sihl is already well-known in the inkjet printing market as a leading provider of coated media through OEM, distribution and reseller channels. The company has a reputation for quality, consistency and reliability but for some time, the holding company, Diatec, has been fully aware that most of its end users wouldn’t even know they are using a Sihl product and as a result, it identified the long term strategic need to strengthen the position of its product and corporate brands to a broader audience.
The Diatec Group has a massive manufacturing operation and develops a broad range of popular, high quality coated media products for delivering cost-effective solutions to the market. In order to take more control over its own destiny, Sihl Direct was established by Diatec to service the large format printing market with Sihl manufactured and branded media, through both selected partners and directly to the end user. Sihl Direct combines the backing of a known and trusted name with the full support of a multi-million pound international corporation.
Ian Turnbull’s appointment as Operations Director for Sihl Direct UK
The task of getting the UK business up and running was down to Ian Turnbull, who was recently appointed as the UK Operations Director. Ian Turnbull has been in the large format printing industry for more than 15 years. For most of that time he was Regional Sales Manager in UK and Scandinavia for media manufacturer, Intelicoat. After some fairly turbulent times - which saw the company go through a number of management changes - Ian was very pleased to move to Sihl Direct to meet the challenges and opportunities the new role offered him.
On his appointment, Ian comments, “My experience is very much in sales and account management within the distribution and reseller channels. This new role is an exciting challenge for me personally and I am learning very rapidly.”
Ian has full support of Sihl’s parent company in Deuren, Germany and a visit to the Altrincham business unit reveals offices, a showroom and warehouse of the style and quality consistent with the high quality of the group and its products. The location of the 700 sqm warehouse allows Sihl Direct to reach approximately 80% of the UK population within a three hour drive thanks to the excellent motorway connections both North and South, and East and West.
Product range to date
Products already available from the newly established Sihl Direct operation include a broad range of specialist materials for most wide format inkjet printers and ink technologies, such as canvas, vinyls and films, as well as a comprehensive stable of photobase papers ideal for high quality photographic and fine art reproductions.
Ian says, “Sihl’s broad range of coated media for aqueous, solvent and UV-curable printers is of exceptional quality and this can make a huge difference to the overall viewing experience for printed output. All Sihl media has been tested extensively with all major printers and under a variety of environmental conditions and I have full confidence in all of the Sihl products.”
Sihl Direct also plans to expand its product ranges into new markets. One particular area of current interest is that of canvas solutions. The company has recently announced an inexpensive canvas for art reproduction – Clara Beneficial white 350 matt 3579. Targeted at the volume and cost-sensitive marketplace, this value canvas is ideal for bespoke art reproduction for private homes and commercial areas such as hotels, conference rooms and restaurants.
“With the intensive cooperation of the manufacturer of the base material, we have developed a fabric that is not only inexpensive to manufacture, but also brings with it all the necessary qualities for framed art and photographic prints,” adds Ian.
Getting the name and brand out there is the key objective for this year and Sihl Direct UK is launching formally at two big exhibitions in March. First up is the Focus on Imaging show from 4th to 7th March, which gives the company the chance to show its credentials in the photography and fine art arena. By the end of March, Sihl will be focusing on Sign & Digital UK where it will be showing its range of media for solvent-based inkjet printers, light boxes and other displays. The company is also developing its range of wall covering products and media specific for Latex printers, which will be on display at the exhibitions.
In terms of the UK business, Ian plans to build the team to meet the expected demand and establish Sihl Direct as a leading brand for inkjet media. Ian Turnbull concludes, “Sihl Direct has the manufacturing capability to deliver very high quality materials and substrates with high service and support levels at cost-effective prices. The role I have been given is a very exciting one and I very much look forward to growing the business in the UK. At present, the UK has a small but dedicated local team - supported by several hundred people across Europe and the USA - and we are looking to expand as the Sihl Direct business develops.”
For more information on Sihl Direct, please visit www.sihl-direct.co.uk