Arena Printing: M&R Sportsman E from Screen Print World

Keith Hedges, managing director

Tell us a bit about your business

When we started 15 years ago, our speciality was in printing for the business gift market. Then, a few years back, I joined up with a customer of mine that had been giving us a lot of work in the fashion retail market. We moved to new, larger premises and invested in new machinery from Dave Roper [at Screen Print World]. Now we do a mixture of retail, sportswear and the business gift side.

What’s the latest screen printing machine you’ve bought?

A 12-head M&R E-Series Sportsman.

Why did you choose it?

The T-shirt printing side has been growing, particularly this year – we’ve picked up some nice contracts through companies like JD Sports – so the second 12-head press has been very useful. It mirrors our other 12-head, bringing our total up to four screen machines.

Did you look at any other machines before you chose the M&R press?

Not really, because once we’d chosen M&R years back, we’ve pretty much stayed with them so we could share the same pallets and other bits and pieces. I knew Dave and we bought a second-hand Gauntlet from him – it was our first auto-press. The only time I diverted from that, I bought an eight-head, six-colour Roq, which is fine, but the other three machines are M&Rs. It gets more confusing when you have a mixture of manufacturers in there.

Arena prints “an enormous number of bags” for the business gift market

What are the main advantages of the Sportsman? 

It’s quite quick, it’s easier to set up, and it was better value than the one up from it. So, value for money-wise, it was the most flexible one we could find and it matched the one we already had so it was easier to set jobs up. We bought a gas dryer at the same time and stuck with M&R for that as well just for continuity of having the one port of call for service requirements and so on.

Is there anything that you don’t particularly like about it?

The guys don’t moan about it a lot, which is unusual for them, so I’m guessing it fulfils pretty much most of what they want it to do!

What’s it like to use?

It’s really quick to set up. The key thing I’ve always found with these things is getting one that’s reliable. All the M&R machines that we’ve had over the years have been reliable, which gives us peace of mind. And if it goes wrong, the other handy thing for me is that Dave Roper’s fairly local, so if I need something in he can get it here quickly.

What other machines or accessories do you use in combination with your M&R press?

When we produce sweatshirts we sometimes have problems with the fibres, so we’ve bought an M&R attachment for the Sportsman, which is like a roller that flattens the sweatshirt before it gets printed.

What is the press mainly used for?

A lot of it this year has been fashion T-shirts, but we still do an enormous number of bags and bits and pieces for the business gift market.

What would be your advice to anyone else who’s thinking of buying a screen printing press?

Continuity is the big thing for me, plus I recommend looking for a stable supplier. Dave Roper has been the agent for M&R for many years, and that gives you peace of mind. Also, another thing you want is to know that the same people will come and repair it and look after it, and that there’s good coverage in the UK for engineers that have the right knowledge for that press. I found with some of the more obscure presses that it was hard to find the right people to look after it.