Our latest ‘Spotlight on...’ feature focuses on the large format laminator manufacturer Kala. Since its establishment in 2003 by Laurent Bouchard, Sylvie Baudouin and Patrick Marillier, the company has gone from strength to strength. The business is ramping up activity globally and has recently made a number of announcements relating to the UK marketplace including the launch of the ‘Starter’ laminator and the appointment of Colourgen as the exclusive UK distributor.
Kala was founded in 2003 when Laurent Bouchard, Sylvie Baudouin and Patrick Marillier joined forces with Dubai-based Graphic International to acquire the wide format lamination business division of Fellowes Lamirel. The company has 15 employees, primarily based near Rennes, France. The business sells its range of finishing solutions in 50 different countries through a network of distribution partners. In 2010, Kala had a turnover of over €4m with 30% of its business in France and 70% of its business exported to other countries.
The company’s portfolio of finishing solutions comprises hot and cold wide format laminators - made by Kala in its French factory – and a supporting array of third-party cutting devices, laminating films and banner stands. Targeting its solutions at print service providers within the large format sector, Kala works closely with its partners to ensure that the solutions they market alongside the Kala laminators work together seamlessly.
On the philosophy of developing a full range of large format finishing products, Laurent Bouchard, co-founder of Kala, explains, “We wanted to bring together a range of great quality, well-designed finishing solutions that offered a high performance to price ratio. Our mission has always been to offer easy-to-use and reliable products - for both short and mass production runs - which can be used by anyone, regardless of their technical expertise.”
“Finishing can sometimes be perceived as a painful, time-consuming task. Most of the time, print businesses don’t see finishing as a means to increase income and differentiate from the competition. However, at Kala, we see things differently. Quality finishing can be a very simple way of adding value to a print shop’s output and – when using the right equipment – reduces wastage of printed material caused by handling errors,” adds Laurent.
In the large format lamination sector, Kala’s product line includes the Mistral, Baltic, Sirocco and Atlantic models. In September 2011, the company also announced the introduction of its new ‘Starter’ model which is already proving highly successful. This new ‘Starter’ model provides simultaneous single sided lamination and adhesive mounting onto substrates up to 50mm thick. It is available in 108cm, 140cm and 160cm widths and all models are capable of handling rolls up to 100m in length. Feedback to date - from customers across the globe - has been very positive.
On its introduction, Laurent Bouchard comments, “The Starter has a very appropriate name. Not only is it an entry level machine, but it is also the “start” of what Kala hopes is a new trend: a competitively priced quality machine fully designed and manufactured in Europe. The key selling point is the price to quality ratio. To date, we’ve sold over 400 Starter laminators and have not had a single one returned. The build quality speaks for itself.”
All of Kala’s competitively priced, quality machines are designed and manufactured in Europe and meet all the latest health & safety and electrical regulations. They are available across the globe via the company’s worldwide network of distributors.
When musing why the company has been so successful to date, Laurent Bouchard comments, “Unlike some of our competitors, who have diversified into heavier equipment and office stocks, we are fully focused on the wide format sector. We continually listen to our customers in the sector and develop the cost-effective, high performance solutions that they truly need. Crucially, our lean management structure ensures that we can move nimbly in response to market developments, and decisions relating to future plans can be made fast.”
With regards to the future, Kala has many plans afoot. Laurent concludes, “We’ve recently been attending a number of major wide format industry shows across Europe –including Fespa, Sign UK and the InterTraffic event in Amsterdam – and we’re busy building partnerships with key industry players. We are also about to announce the inclusion of an innovative tool-free canvas framing system within our product portfolio. In a nutshell, when it comes to Kala’s future plans, watch this space!”
For more information on Kala, please visit http://www.kala.fr/en/