Creating anything but ordinary solutions: Romeo Sanuri

This article first appeared in the November 2022 issue of Australian Printer

As one of Australia’s leading large format digital printing companies, Next Printing is committed to the highest standards of visual communication. The result is in the work that is produced, that is both inspired and inspirational. AP spoke to its managing director Romeo Sanuri about the company’s solutions and future plans.

Q: What is the history of Next Printing?  

Romeo Sanuri (RS): Next Printing started in 2004, with Photo King as its parent company. The owner of the company was my uncle, along with his two other business partners. But when they saw a decline in the photographic market – with the advent of digital cameras – they revised their strategy to grow the business in different areas, such as advertising, which was always done through print back then. I joined the company in 2003, just before we set up Next Printing. It was an interesting start for us, without any prior knowledge of large format printing.

Q: How did you grow the business from that point on?

RS: We initially worked with a lot of signage companies as we thought that was the quickest way to grow our business. We printed for companies like Signarama, Sign Wave, and a few other agencies. We also wanted to be at the forefront of the next big thing, so in 2004, started with flatbed printing and UV technology when the market was still using solvent. But at that time, there were some bigger flatbed printing businesses that had made a name for themselves, so we eventually scaled down to focus on indoor applications that required very quick turnaround times and high-quality prints. That led to us entering the cosmetic, fashion and exhibition spaces, which now makes up 40 per cent of Next’s work.

Q: What sorts of solutions does Next Printing produce for these customers?

RS: About eight years ago, we decided that we wanted to do better for our environment. We invested heavily in people and research to identify sustainable solutions. What started simply as an initiative has become our main purpose. Our customers are now becoming increasingly conscious about recycling and sustainability. As a result, we have been recommending the use of Re-Board (an eco-friendly engineered paper product) in which we specialise. Many of our projects combine Re-board with enviro-fabrics and other paper-based products.

Q: What is fuelling Next Printing’s upward momentum?

RS: It is two things – sustainability and the growth in labels. Sustainability, because it is becoming more important to a lot of clients who want something that has less impact on the environment. The last time we were at FESPA, we connected with a company called Carbon Quota which has developed a mechanism that can assess the environmental impact of print matter including displays and activations.

Together with them, we can educate the market about what carbon emissions within the printing industry look like and how we can improve them. Today, non-sustainable approaches can produce 10 times the carbon emissions of more sustainable options.

The growth of labels is also a focus for us. We started our labels division, Next Labels, in 2020 and this has resulted in good growth for the company. We previously acquired a small labels business called Rentons Labels, and last year also acquired another label company that was looking to exit the market. We have brought all these businesses together and since 2020, the company has grown about four times from what it was. We intend to further expand it in the near future.

Q: What is the most memorable and unique project that Next Printing has worked on?

RS: There are a few unique and memorable projects we have produced. In retail, one of the most memorable ones was for a women’s clothing company – Jigsaw, which is no longer in Australia.

At the time the business commissioned this project, because the brand is UK based, it wanted to include some of the iconic British landmarks in its ‘pop-up’ project – think along the lines of a massive ‘pop-up’ greeting card. We had the Big Ben ‘pop up’ which we produced using different materials and blew it up in scale, in 3D to 2.4m. That project won us a global FESPA silver award in point-of-sale.

Some other projects that were unique are those we have produced with Sephora – as it has been a client of ours since 2018. At that time, sustainability was very low on its radar but since becoming an early adopter, using our sustainable print solutions for its Press Day events, it has become par for the course.  

Q: What is your short-to medium-term vision for the company’s future?

RS: With businesses still recovering from COVID, our short-to medium-term plans involve ensuring that the business can go back to where it was – not so much in terms of revenue, but with regards to performance instead. We understand that profit is one of the keys to making our business sustainable, but in order to do that, we need to perform. And for optimum performance, we need to attract good talent. That has been our focus for the last six to 12 months.

Medium-term, we want to grow the labels side of our business. That entails a bit of focus on using marketing as our driver to bring in more clients. We intend to use the expertise of our recent acquisitions to support this strategy. The machines we own are new and cutting edge with a higher capacity.

Q: What is your assessment of business requirements for print in 2023?

RS: I always go back to the importance of sustainability. Sustainability can carry a slightly higher price tag. We need to educate clients that it is possible to be sustainable without breaking the bank. We want our customers to be brands that have an environmental purpose. We will continue to educate them on the long-term benefits of sustainability and how they can build affinity with their own clients by showing that they care about their future. Data continues to show that customers will choose to buy from brands that support the same causes they do.

Q: What can the market expect from Next Printing in the next few years?

RS: In the next few years, on the large format side, Next Printing aims to continue to look at areas where we can make more of an impact in the marketplace. One of those areas is collaboration with brands and how we can align with their corporate values. This is quite a big challenge in a lot of companies as logistics is an issue.

I also want to expand our business to include more international projects with our local customers. This is something that we were given the opportunity to do this year with accounting software company Xero at its Xerocon 2022 events in London, New Orleans and Sydney earlier this year.

The company wanted something green and sustainable across all three locations. As the global lead, Next Printing successfully executed this project which included over 200 custom booths made from Reboard – a first of its kind in the world.

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