Earlier this year Coker Expo installed a HP Latex R2000 Plus at its site in Hook, Hampshire, as a prequel to launching Huebox, a new, animated lightbox system, designed to help bring static images to life. Bet that’s piqued your interest - it did mine - so I talked with company owner and CEO Ashley Coker about the diversification, and what part the new HP latex printer is likely to play in Coker’s development.
In April you told us you’d installed a HP Latex R2000 Plus as a necessary tool for a new project – the imminent launch of Huebox. Before we get down to detail the significance of the printer in this diversification, can you just outline what Huebox is - and how it came about?
Huebox is a separate brand from Coker Expo, and is an innovative way of looking at lightboxes. Lightboxes have of course been around for years, but it’s less common to see animated, dynamic lightboxes here in the UK than in, say, Asia. Yet, when you see subtle effects coming through printed fabric - printed on the R2000 of course - it looks phenomenal. So the aim is to bring static images to life, and we hope, Huebox will inspire retailers as they bounce back from Covid and lockdown.
I presume you have an array of large-format print kit, so tell me why the HP Latex R2000 Plus was a crucial purchase in terms of Huebox?
Coker’s history goes way back and to the photography industry, where quality was paramount. So having a printer with the widest colour-gamut on the market for instance, was paramount for us. Also, the R2000 compliments our other printers. It’s also very versatile, easy to use, and fits very well into the modern way of working.
I know that environmental considerations are a key focus at Coker Expo, and that the ‘green’ credentials of the HP latex technology grabbed your attention. Can you expand upon that for us?
This is something that is personally very important for me. I have young children, and I don’t want to leave a world in worse state for them than it’s been for myself. I think that as we come out of a pandemic, everyone is going to be much more aware of the environment. And HP has done the work - they’ve brought us eco-friendly inks - so it not only feels good to be able to use those and tick the environment box, but deliver what our customers are asking for. Also, with the Greenguard accreditation, we’re aware our workers are protected too.
Do you expect the new latex printer to be 100% devoted to Huebox work - or is there an intention to use it for other applications too?
Absolutely, the intention is to use it on other applications too. There’s plenty of scope for other products to come off that printer - we may even end up with a second machine. We have tested a wide array of media now so we think there’s a massive opportunity. Also, I have a software background, and we’re looking at some innovative ways of getting artwork through the printer to the customer with minimal fuss - it’s not just about the product but the customer experience too.
What kind of ROI are you hoping for on the HP Latex R2000 Plus, and what is that most dependent upon?
Post Covid it’s hard to tell when we’re going to be back running at 100%. We’re not going to see a lot of work coming in yet from exhibitions, but this new printer is a workhorse and offers us some fantastic scope. Covid has given us the luxury of time to really do the R&D, and we know we’ve made the right choice of investment.