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Printwear and Promotion Live Preview

Printwear and Promotion Live is raring to go to showcase the latest in the garment decoration industry. Jo Golding sees what is in store and how your business can benefit

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The new show dates of January 21st to 23rd go hand in hand with new clothing lines being launched

Profits up your sleeve

Returning to the NEC a month earlier than usual, Printwear and Promotion Live is set to kick off 2018 with a bang. As the only dedicated event for the UK garment decoration industry, you can see just from taking a look at Twitter that its exhibitors are looking forward to the event and getting out there to meet customers, old and new.

Essentially it is well worth a look for any sign-maker with an eye on business diversification or a need to add a new revenue stream to their business. Indeed, the opportunities are obvious, if you have a new restaurant asking you to do all the built-up letters, wide-format print, and promotional posters, then why not quote them for doing branded workwear and uniforms to match?

The biggest development for this event has been its quite unusual choice to stray away from a proven formula and change its dates, so what lies behind this decision? Well, having been given an exclusive interview with event director Tony Gardner, it appears the change is simply a result of positive growth.

O Factoid: Printwear and Promotion Live had 5,367 visitors to its last show, but is expecting more in 2018 due to bringing its show dates forward to January 21st to 23rd. O


“The continued expansion of the show in recent years has meant we have had to relocate again into bigger halls and the availability of larger halls resulted in the move to January for 2018,” comments Gardner.

The continued expansion of the show in recent years has meant we have had to relocate


He continues: “January is traditionally a little quieter for the garment decoration market as a whole, thus from a visitor perspective the January dates present the opportunity for even more to attend. This is borne out by research among visitors to this year’s show, although around 60 percent had no preference on January or February dates, two thirds of the remaining 40 percent advised that the earlier dates are better suited for them to visit in 2018.

The show has seen visitor numbers of more than 5,000 at each of its last three events



“January is also the time when new clothing lines from the major clothing brands are launched, so being able to showcase these to the market a month earlier is seen as a real benefit of the earlier dates by the clothing brands and distributors exhibiting at the show.”

Booming trade

An exhibition is clearly more likely to be a success if the industry it is based on is thriving. This does not seem to be a problem for Printwear and Promotion Live, as Gardner shares how the increasing number of exhibitors and visitors at the show is reflecting the “rising amount of successful trade” in the garment decoration industry.

He says: “Since the first ever Printwear and Promotion Live show 29 years ago, it has been clear that the growth of the show is aligned to expansion in this buoyant industry. From conversations I have had with exhibitors, I have been told that the industry is continuing to experience growth. The corporate and workwear sector has undergone a surge of growth in recent years and sportswear and leisurewear continue to expand. As a result, garment decoration companies are thriving, which in turn means growth for the garment and equipment suppliers in the industry, as profits made get pushed into new equipment to cope with the demand.”

Also demonstrating the show’s presence in the market, a number of new brands will be using the show as a launch pad, such as Écologie and Pro RTX, as well as Just Ts and Polos, which are getting ready to open new markets for garment decorators.

The RISO Gocco Pro QS2536 has the largest screen size of its series, handling 25 x 36” frames that can be installed on automatic t-shirt printers



As well as new brands, Gardner highlights the number of start-up companies that visit the show. He says: “Over the last four years, 400 to 500 of our visitors have been business start-ups. These new first-time visitors are seeing garment decoration as a means to generate an income. Start-ups can learn more about the industry at the show, seek advice, and source new products, ideas, and inspiration.”

Gardner adds that there is a resurgence taking place in the UK garment decoration market: “Big retailers are now choosing to source more of their decorated garments from the UK to reduce lead times and stockholdings when compared to sourcing from overseas. From a UK garment decorator’s point of view, winning back this business means there is more profit to re-invest into embroidery, screen printing, and DTG printing equipment, ultimately strengthening the industry as a whole.”

Must-see exhibitors

While the exhibition features around 150 stands, over 25 of these are new for 2018. There will be over 60 clothing brands and distributors, alongside major decoration equipment and accessory suppliers covering sectors such as direct-to-garment and screen printing.

The new R-Jet5i DTG printer will be shown by Resolute DTG at the exhibition



On the equipment side, you will find Midwest Machinery, SWF Embroidery Systems (YES Ltd), DTG Digital (YES Ltd), and GS UK. They will all be launching new equipment at the show and Gardner says they are a “definite must-see” for visitors. New product launches include the Brother GTX DTG printer (GS UK and MHM Direct GB stands), the R-Jet5i DTG printer (Resolute DTG stand), and two new screen printers—the Riso Gocco Pro Digital and Gocco Pro QS2536 (Gocco Pro stand).

New product launches will include the Brother GTX DTG printer on GS UK and MHM Direct GB’s stands



What also caught my eye on Twitter, and sporting a very fetching neon pink jacket, was news that the new Hobstar A4 heat press will be showcased by The Magic Touch. The company describes it as the “perfect entry-level A4 heat press” that is “simple to use” and “extremely portable”.

The new Hobstar is described by The Magic Touch as the “perfect entry-level A4 heat press”



Also for 2018, Printwear and Promotion Live is introducing two new seminar suites—The Knowledge Centre and The Decoration Advice Suite.

Gardner explains: “Results from a survey conducted after last year’s show highlight that 14 percent of visitors surveyed come to Printwear and Promotion Live for education, training, and advice. Following this feedback and the success of the seminars over the past few years, we felt that it was time to expand the advice and information on offer at the show to really allow visitors to delve into topics at the core of the garment decoration industry. With double the amount of seminars, visitors will have access to a broad scope of expert knowledge, offering tips, solutions, and updates on the latest industry developments.”

Gardner comments on what the two areas will be offering visitors: “The Knowledge Centre will cover topics concerning how to develop your garment decoration business, including advice on how to start up a new business in the sector, suggestions on the questions you should be asking your suppliers and software that can simplify the day to day production workflow. Seminars will range from ‘The ultimate design software’ delivered by Bernhard Nitsche of CAD Link, to ‘2018 small business trends that could affect you’ by Gillian Suggett of St Mawgan Embroidery Co.

“Over in The Decoration Advice Suite, visitors can discover the best ways to maximise profit when it comes to decorating garments. Seminar topics include ‘The profitable power of mass customisation’ delivered by Oliver Luedkte of Kornit Digital Europe to ‘Advanced apparel applications for sublimation’ by Scott Walton of Vapor Apparel and ‘Profit from dye-sublimation’ presented by Martin Shaw of Sawgrass.”

Also, what better way is there to show off the possibilities of garment decoration than with a fashion show? Printwear and Promotion Live hits the catwalk three times a day for a fashion show sponsored by outdoor clothing brand Regatta Professional. Also pop by the Screen Print Workshop for live demonstrations, and the Bag and Headwear Decoration Advice area sponsored by Beechfield Brands.

Inspirational show

As it has been going for almost 30 years now, Printwear and Promotion Live has built up a solid amount of feedback—it even dedicates a section of its website to its previous year’s visitor testimonials. Gardner explains what its visitors get out of the event: “Comments and feedback that we received from our visitors shows that inspiration to develop and grow their business is what they get from the show and why they enjoy it so much.

“Those who visit the show for the first time often comment that there is a real ‘buzz’ at the show. Record visitor numbers of well over 5,000 at each of the last three shows, is testimony to this. For that we must also congratulate many of our long-standing exhibitors on the way in which they have invested in their presentation at the show. We also thank them for their continued and increasing support, as we continue to deliver that inspiration for our visitors.

“Visitors will be able to source new products, witness exciting new product launches, and gain knowledge, advice, and valuable industry connections. This makes Printwear and Promotion Live 2018 a must attend event for all involved in or wanting to explore the potential that the garment decoration market has to offer their business.”

So, from listening to its visitors’ feedback and acting on it, to displaying entry-level kit to encourage people to get started, as well as offering plenty of opportunities to get advice, it seems to me that Printwear and Promotion Live is doing everything right. There is every reason for a sign-making business to check out the show and what its exhibitors have to offer—especially considering the cross overs in the two markets. It is often such trips out of your business that can lead to a strike of inspiration and a decision that leads to some very much improved profits down the road. So, check it out for yourself from January 21st to 23rd.


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