What do you think of when you hear the word snuggle? Kids clothing, soft toys, a fabric conditioner? I’m sure it’s not high-volume direct to garment printing. P&P editor Melanie Attlesey speaks with the directors of Snuggle, Akil Thathia and Shabbir Maimoon, to find out more about their growing business.
“It’s a very random word, but it’s memorable,” says Akil when trying to explain the origin of the company name. “It’s not one you’re going to forget in a hurry.”
The same can be said for Akil and Shabbir – they are two guys you will not forget in a hurry.
In his previous life Akil ran a mobile phone business, while Shabbir ran a dry cleaners. The two cousins made the decision in 2011 to form their own business and start selling personalised gifts such as mobile phone and tablet cases, coasters and placemats.
After seeing how lucrative the personalisation market was, the pair decided to add to their business and start producing decorated garments. For the two men this meant making the move into DTG printing.
Initially Akil and Shabbir purchased a couple of Texjet printers from Amaya Sales UK, before working their way up to owning seven of these. “We couldn’t keep up with demand, so needed to explore other options,” says Shabbir.
Snuggle works as a trade printer, fulfilling orders and prints from other garment decorators, primarily screen printers and embroiderers. This meant that as business grew through word of mouth, the guys needed a printer or printers that could keep up with demand.
After researching the market, the pair purchased their first Kornit Storm Hexa from Adelco in May 2017. The introduction of a printer that pre-treats internally saved the team a lot of down time and costly errors. The ease of use was another major factor as the time spent training staff was dramatically reduced.
Akil and Shabbir were so impressed with the machine, as were their customers due to the quality of the prints produced, that they purchased their second Storm Hexa in August 2017.
Previously using the desktop-style Texjet printers meant the team could comfortably produce around 600 to 700 prints a day. This number increased with the introduction of the two Storm Hexas to around 1,500 a day at full capacity.
But they didn’t stop there and with demand continuously on the up, they needed a printer which could allow them to print even more while maintaining the high level of quality that Snuggle had become renowned for.
Cue the purchase of two Kornit Avalanche HD6 high-volume direct to garment printers from Adelco. The Avalanche HD6 was released into the market to great reception at the beginning of the year and as a result only a handful of printers in the UK have got their hands on this robust printing system. Now the team of 14 can comfortably carry out an average of 1,900 prints a day, with plans eventually to run the machines 24 hours a day at full capacity to achieve 3,500 prints a day. These volumes, along with the ink cost savings, are now beginning to rival those capable of screen printers.
Getting the machines in the building wasn’t an easy task. It took three days and the removal of internal walls to ensure there was adequate space to manoeuvre around the printers and to get access to the ink containers on the side.
Shabbir explains why they purchased these two printers in particular: “We were very happy with the Storm Hexas, but needed something that could give us the additional capacity. The Avalanche HD6s provide another level of quality to the prints and give an improved feel to the garments. They also provide us with a reduction in ink costs and allow us to print on a lot more fabrics.”
Akil adds: “Although we still do UV printing on our Mimaki printers, we see the garment side of the business as our key growth area. We are currently looking for a new premises to move into, where we plan to install a third Avalanche HD6 as soon as we can.”
Snuggle’s 6,000sq ft unit sits on a trading estate on the edge of Peterborough. It houses the two Avalanche HD6s, an Eco-Tex dryer and some office space on the ground floor, while the top floor houses stock inventory, four Mimaki UJF-6042s and two Mimaki JFX200s. The plan is to move into a unit somewhere else within the city that will be approximately three times the size.
Shabbir says: “You could describe our current premises as organised chaos. Space is really tight, which is why we are looking for a new unit.”
As well as a new unit, Snuggle is also on the hunt for new members of staff. The purchase of the two Avalanche HD6s means that the team needs to expand in line with the production capabilities of the printers.
Once settled into the new premises, the guys have plans to grow the UV side of the business by replacing the four UJF-6042s with three new UJF-6042MkIIs. “Since the purchase of the Storm Hexas and now the Avalanche HD6s we have been typecast as a trade DTG printer. We want to change this image and further develop the UV printing side of the business,” says Akil.
It is clear that in just seven years Snuggle has grown quite substantially, in terms of turnover and reputation. Next year will see the company expand again with further equipment purchases planned. This is one company to definitely keep your eye on.
You can catch up with the Snuggle team at Printwear & Promotion LIVE! in January.