Failure is not something you would associate with fast-growing pixartprinting, but its expansionist plans have not delivered in the UK, which is why it has switched tactics.
Localise to internationalise is the strategic thinking behind Italian Web-to-print specialist PIxart’s new partnership with the UK’s Precision Printing to form pixartprinting.co.uk and behind the creation of ‘virtual shops’ across Europe and beyond. It’s a bold move by PIxart founder Matteo Rigamonti but it’s his bold moves that have taken the fast-growing company into a new 12,000m2 facility in Quarto D’Altino just outside Venice, which boasts an eye-watering array of wide- and small-format digital kit, plus two litho presses, and employs a staff of 120 working around the clock to deliver 2,000 print jobs per day. Rigamonti expects 2010 to have delivered a 55% growth over 2009, but he’s not satisfied.
Having set out to conquer Europe, Rigamonti’s expansionist plan has not yet achieved what he hoped it would. Currently the company, formed in 1994, has around 45,000 Italian clients and another 20,000 from elsewhere. In some territories, like the UK, there are only a few hundred customers, despite aggressive marketing campaigns over the last two years. Indeed, this time last year (cover story January 2010) Rigamonti was bullish that Pixart would “significantly grow key European markets, including the UK.” In certain markets, like France, that did indeed happen. In others, the UK in particular, it didn’t.
While roughly 45% of turnover now comes from outside Italy, Rigamonti says that nevertheless, “it has become clear that we have to overcome our Italianness to appeal to a wider international market. The name pixart.it is a clear reference to our nationality. Therefore, we have changed the name to pixartprinting – which represents us better outside Italy. We need to present ourselves to the European market as a multinational, capable of speaking the language, both literally and metaphorically, of each country. For this reason we have created ‘virtual shops’ for each country with a local domain (pixartprinting.fr, pixartprinting.es etc.) so that customers have a ‘neighbourhood store’ through which they can access our services.” To date domains have been acquired for 20 European and 10 non-European countries, each with a customer service team that speaks the relevant language etc. In the UK, the set-up if different.
“Pixart.it hasn’t worked in the UK – it’s largely down to a lack of trust,” reiterates Rigamonti. “We have to encourage customers to order for the first time and there are certain things that have to be in place for that to happen. They want to talk to UK-based (not just English speaking) staff who understand their markets and requirements, they want localised payment (in £ sterling) and VAT, and they want a site with a translation of the materials they use. Plus they want the benefits of our 24/48 delivery service which they were missing because of the distances to the production site in Italy.”
Hence the new partnership with Precision Printing in Barking, Essex, and the formation of pixartprinting.co.uk which is considered a litmus test business model that could possibly be replicated by pixartprinting elsewhere in Europe.
Pixartprinting.co.uk, based at Precision Printing and run by 21 of its personnel, will process all domestic orders routed via Pixart’s specially developed online workflow software. Printing will be undertaken on Precision’s kit though wide-format jobs will be handled at the Italian site for the immediate future.
“The great thing is, pixartprinting automates full choice specification for the professional print buyer,” enthuses Precision chief Gary Peeling. Of his involvement he explains: “We invested £4.5m in a Heidelberg B2 ten-colour press and an HP Indigo digital printer just a year ago so we have capacity there. We have much less wide-format capacity so initially that work will be handled in Italy, but wide-format is a large part of Pixart’s business and strategy so if we need to buy more kit in the UK then we will go that route.”
“We believe we can count on the capacity and operating methods of pixartprinting.co.uk to provide a UK service with the levels of quality and service that we have in Italy,” adds Rigamonti. “pixartprinting.co.uk provides instant pricing, easy upload and rapid delivery. Plus, there will be some unusual products that can be sourced in the UK local market. It is a true trade print hub for print professionals.” So, will you use it?