The towel master

Steve and Gazz Vallender with Aaron Burton of Sabur with the DGI FT-1908

Self-described as a master of one trade rather than a jack of all, Bursali Towels (UK) has recently invested in a DGI FT-1908 high speed transfer sublimation printer to triple production. P&P editor Melanie Attlesey catches up with sales and marketing director Steve Vallender to find out more.

Bursali Towels was established in the UK in 2005 by Turkish towel factory NBT to offer a better service to the UK and European wholesale towel market. In January 2008 Steve and his son Gareth, also known as Gazz, purchased 100% of the UK operation from the Turkish factory to start their own venture and business has been flourishing since.

A decade on and Steve’s most recent move to continue the development and growth of Bursali is the purchase of the DGI FT-1908 high speed sublimation printer.

The investment in this printer follows the decision to bring print production in-house after the vote to leave the European Union in June 2016. Bursali initially purchased a Mimaki 1.8m-wide TS300P-1800 in May last year, but found in order to keep up with customer demand a faster printer was needed. Fast-forward to the beginning of this year and the investment in the DGI FT-1908 was made.

The printed towels display photographic qualities

The time is right

It was during a visit to Printwear & Promotion LIVE! in January when Steve decided to purchase the printer after a long chat with Aaron Burton of DGI’s UK dealer Sabur.

He says: “Aaron spoke to us at length about a new product that they had just launched which he felt would interest us and benefit our company. The time is right for us to expand, and we see the DGI FT-1908 as a key part in doing that.”

The DGI FT-1908 entered the market when it was launched at FESPA in Hamburg last year. It is designed for high production environments and features eight state-of-the-art Panasonic 720dpi print heads, a variable droplet with high density water-based sublimation inks and an easy fill bulk ink system, as well as a built-in drying system.

This printer, and its companion printer the FT-1608, are two to three times faster than the previous generation of printers with Epson print heads and can run through a 100m roll in two-and-half hours at 720x720dpi four pass, with a maximum print speed of 113sq m/hr.

Prior to bringing towel printing in-house, the Pontypridd-based towel manufacturer embroidered approximately 2,000 pieces a week using a Barudan 12-head and a Happy eight-head, as well as outsourcing any printing jobs, which would result in long lead times of up to 16 weeks for customers. Bursali still offers an embroidery service, but bringing towel printing in-house means lead times have been reduced to seven days which benefits customers.

Steve explains: “Following our entry last year into the in-house printing of towels we have experienced great success, and felt that we needed to increase our production capability to keep up with demand, and to honour our commitment to customers to deliver within seven days of order. The DGI FT-1908 will triple our production output and allow us to reduce our prices because of the increased economies of scale, thereby increasing profitability.”

And speaking of quick turnaround times, the time from first speaking with Sabur about the DGI FT-1908 at P&P LIVE! to installing the 1.9m wide printer at the beginning of March took around seven weeks. “Now that’s what I call great service!” exclaims Steve.

Aaron adds: “You only have to speak to Steve or visit the Bursali website to see the quality of what they produce and the enthusiasm for what they do. Indeed, some of the printed towels on the website are even mistaken for actual photographs. A sign of the quality of what they produce.

“Bursali is a company that we are delighted to work with as we see them as market leaders that offer a quality service to their clients and customers. It is a company that was already successful in what it did, and yet looked to grow and diversify. That’s why they looked into digital printing on to towels and towelling products and started in-house last year. We are proud to be helping Bursali to increase output and take the next step forward.”

A unique set-up

The Mimaki TS300P-1800 and the DGI FT-1908 work in tandem and jobs completed are fed into a transfer printing press from Diferro to put the designs onto towels. The digital printing process now allows Bursali to compete with any competitors abroad.

Some of the Bursali team show off some recently printed towels

This coupled with the fact that Bursali is the only UK towel company that produces towels in-house, it seems that Bursali has tapped into a winning formula. All of Bursali’s towels are specially manufactured in factories across the world to exacting specifications to service a wide variety of clients that range from well-known household names to smaller niche companies such as spas, gyms and events.

Steve adds: “Through expertise and experience we know which factory is best at producing each and every product we sell. Our flexible combination of supplying towels to the trade, both direct from the factory and from UK stock on a next day delivery basis is probably unique. We now offer the biggest selection of towels in the UK and have over 3,000 customers.”

But what does the future have in store for Bursali? Steve explains: “I would like the company to be perceived as the market leader in its chosen areas of trade, such as printed towels and the best range of plain towels.

“On a personal note, during the next five years I will gradually be handing over the running of the business to Gazz, who having been in the industry for 11 years must surely be the most experienced 30-year-old in the trade. However, he won’t have it all his own way as I’ll still be coming into work as I enjoy it so much.”

As Bursali expands Steve also hints that the purchase of the DGI FT-1908 may not be company’s last investment in print technology. So watch this space.

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