Images met up with Roq and i-Sub at Fespa 2017 to discover how the two companies are planning to turn the UK’s screen printing shops green
Roq, formerly known as S.Roque, is something of a screen print institution in its home country of Portugal. The distinctive bright green machinery dominates the Portuguese industry, reports Vitor Simão, Roq’s product manager. In northern Spain, the print shops supplying clothing giant Inditex, owners of high street chain Zara, all use Roq presses. And they are big sellers in other print centres around the world, too, including India where, the company reports, their robust build quality is more than a match for the often exceptionally harsh print shop conditions.
So why haven’t Roq’s green machines already muscled their way into the UK? Nuno Venda, marketing manager, explains that the company “started the international process at a later date” than the other machinery manufacturers, but is fast making up for that lost time. “The machines are proving themselves everywhere,” he says. “Every market is accelerating, sometimes at very high speed.”
One of the reasons for this rising tide of green presses around the globe – from Asia to the USA – is the company’s ‘listening approach’. “It’s in our DNA, we’re always listening,” says Nuno. “It’s why we come to shows, to see what they [customers] want and need. Fashions change, needs change – the key thing is to hear the market.”
Another important driver, says Vitor, is Roq’s vertically integrated manufacturing facilities. “Roq manufactures nearly every part of the machines at its 270,000 sq ft factory in Portugal – even down to the individual nuts and bolts,” adds Alex Taylor, who is responsible for Roq sales at newly appointed UK distributors, i-Sub. In fact, the only parts not made in the factory are the circuit boards.
I-Sub’s relationship with Roq goes back 15 years to when the company’s founder Nick Davies started selling the Roq folding and packaging machines. Last year, when the team took River Blue Graphic from Leicester to Portugal to look at this equipment, it ended up selling them a Roq oval press as well. “We thought, if we can accidentally sell someone an oval, what would happen if we actually tried to sell the machines?” says the company’s Simon Lymn.
Simon adds that while i-Sub is known principally as a distributor of digital printing equipment, Roq felt like a natural fit with its existing roster of premium brands. “They were missing one premium brand – Roq!” exclaims Nuno.
Roq has 25 international roaming engineers, and four i-Sub engineers will be trained up to service the machines in the UK. However, Nuno insists that virtually no maintenance is needed because the machines rarely have any downtime: “The machines do not stop. What we sell at Roq is time. It’s what printers need and its what our machinery gives them.” To underline this point, Nuno adds that the company’s very first oval, built in 2000, is still working in precise registration, while a carousel made way back in 1991 is also still in full production and working perfectly today.
Roq also employs a 20-strong R&D team that is constantly developing its equipment range, which stretches from the small format Roqprint Nano press up to the 56-pallet Roqprint Oval Evolution, and includes flash, flock, and foiling accessories plus the Roqtunnel conveyor dryers. A team of 430 staff works in the factory, with 30 more employees being hired in the next few months to cope with the company’s rapid growth. Recent developments include the Hybrid digital print station, and the brand new Roq CTS Ink computer-to-screen unit, which was launched at Fespa 2017.
A comprehensive range of highly engineered equipment is just the starting point for Roq, however: the company prides itself on tailoring those options to answer client’s individual requirements. It encourages printers to visit its factory to see the scale of the production facilities for themselves. It then studies their business to assess everything from the available space in their print shop, to their power source, and the market they are servicing, before suggesting the best solution for their specific needs. The good news is that i-Sub will be adopting precisely the same approach to ensure that every UK Roq customer is equally well equipped for success.