AA Labels has sought to capitalise on the expected growth of the UK packaging industry over the next five years through investment in hardware to advance its folding carton offering.

Peterborough, UK-based AA Labels specialises in designing, producing and printing labels. Established in 2006, the business manufactures and distributes plain and printed labels in a range of materials, adhesives and finishes for commercial, industrial, specialist and home use throughout Europe and further afield with customers in Canada, Argentina, America, Australia and Hong Kong. It also offers folding cartons as a complement to its label products, although AA Labels’ printed packaging service has to date been aimed at small to medium businesses who require affordable short print runs, with quick turnaround times. At the time of its launch, this service was claimed as a market first, ‘providing a printed cartons service that enabled businesses to seamlessly complete the entire order process online.’

With the UK packaging market expected to grow by 12% in the next five years, AA Labels has sought to upgrade its packaging capabilities with an improved offer to meet the needs of manufacturers, retailers and distributors. An investment of £1.1 million has been made into new, state-of-the-art machinery to fulfil customer demand for printed packaging across a range of industry sectors, although specifically those operating large businesses.

This has included investment in an HP Indigo 12000 digital press that can print up to 4600 sheets an hour, enabling large orders to be processed. Being a duplex press allows packaging to printed on both sides, even on a thicker substrate material.

AA Labels has also invested in a auto-fed TruCoat UV lamination machine from Tec Lighting. With a reduced cost up to 50% less than the standard process, this system can deliver gloss-satin and matte coatings, with a fast turnaround time of less than five minutes for each to be applied. This means that complete printing packaging orders can be turned around swiftly and have the added advantage of being more eco-friendly.

Shoaib Akram, project lead at AA Labels, commented, ‘Up until this point, we have been restricted by the number of orders we could fulfil due to the scope of the existing printer. Following market research, we knew that there was potential to build our offer for larger print runs, whilst maintaining the high level of quality and customer service we are known for.

‘The investment in the new press means we can print to the bigger size of B2+, a dimension frequently used by retailers, manufacturers and distribution networks. This will lead to the packaging division increasing from 5% to 20% of overall sales.’