Kirk launches packaging agency

Australian graphic and prepress specialist Kirk Group has launched a packaging design agency – Task – to provide consumer brands with an end-to-end design execution service, taking package design concepts to shelf-ready printed products.


Task by Kirk (Task) says its graphics specialists advise on design suitability for printing, with the final design then rolled out across all product lines and sizes, drawing on their print expertise to ensure artwork is accurate and print ready first time, saving clients time and money.


Kirk Group operates over four production sites, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, and Auckland, with 120 staff. It is the largest supplier of Flexographic plates and gravure cylinders in Australasia, servicing both print convertors and major FMCG brands with a variety of products and advanced technology solutions.


John Kapiniaris, general manager, Task, explains, “We saw a gap in the market that could make the packaging design and printing process more streamlined, eliminating process duplication, and costly and time-consuming errors, delivering product to shelves more quickly.


“We also saw an opportunity to improve the quality of the final printed product, reproducing colours and designs to meet the original brand vision.


“At Kirk Group, we were getting involved at the back end of the design execution process where we were constantly seeing files going to the printer with mistakes that could have been anticipated and easily avoided.


“At Task, by working with clients from step one, we can advise of potential problems and offer tailored solutions to avoid duplication and costly agency fees by getting the process and designs right the first time.


“When you deal with Tasks and Kirks, you deal with one vendor, reducing the amount of stakeholders along the way. That means less errors, and less potential activities going wrong. With two or three vendors, you may find they have different colour strategies, so keeping it consistent is difficult.


“With us, it is one vendor, less touchpoints, less duplication, less errors, for a more efficient cost model.


Task says it can also partner with the clients’ existing design agency and printers to streamline the process and smooth handoffs at each stage.


Kapiniaris says clients recognised that the Kirk Group’s long history of working closely with printers meant the team was familiar with individual print- press specifications, resulting in time and cost efficiencies.


“As a business, we are plate agnostic. We are not aligned with one type, we use the major types used globally, and align the right plate technology with the right printer across the right brand. That is critical as each printer has a different setup, press, and substrate. There is always that variety.


“We know what will work and what won’t. We know if a particular colour or design is difficult to print from the outset and can advise the client at the start of the process and suggest suitable alternatives to avoid problems or disappointment at the end of the process.


“Brands should not have to compromise on the quality of their packaging. Quite often they do not know there is a better or smarter way to get products on the shelf faster and at a lower cost,” says Kapiniaris.


Task says it recently worked with Riviana to rebrand the Always Fresh line of products in just two months, halving the time from the previous process and at half the budgeted spend.


Georgina Vergunst, retail strategy manager, Riviana says she was impressed that Task was able to handle such a difficult brief so quickly, which involved producing colour-accurate press-ready artwork for a wide range of global print partners.


“Task helped us navigate the complicated world of design to print. It just made the whole process so much easier and they were able to take care of whatever came up”, she says.


Kapiniaris says providing an end-to-end service was vital in getting products to shelf faster, which had financial implications given the competitive retail market, where retail shelf space was at a premium and failure to launch products on time could cost businesses.


“This also runs the risk of your product being replaced by your competitor’s products or private label, with the long-term issue of having to renegotiate new shelf space, with no guarantee your products will get back on the shelf.”


Task says its clients include PepsiCo, Kimberly-Clark, Simplot, Riviana and Cerebos.


Graeme Kirk founded Kirk in 1972 producing digitally engraved gravure cylinders out of a single site in Minto, NSW. With a pioneering spirit and vision the business quickly grew and expanded gravure cylinder production to Melbourne.


Recognising the potential of Flexography printing for flexible packaging Kirk's invested in the production of Digital Flexographic plates in 1983 out of the Melbourne operation.


Kirk says it has and will continue to pioneer new technologies that benefit brands and printers. From being the first to utilise dot based digital proofing for packaging, digital pre-press workflows through to today with cloud based infrastructure to the latest imaging and plate systems Kirk's business now spans Australia and New Zealand with mirrored production facilities together with centre of graphics excellence in Malaysia.

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