High street giant Next has said its two new Ricoh presses, installed in 2020, played a ‘key role’ in allowing the business to remain operational throughout the pandemic.

The retailer invested in a Ricoh T7210 flatbed and a Ricoh Latex L5160 as part of an effort to bring more print work in house and reduce the number of projects it had been outsourcing, including window displays for its network of 550 stores across the UK and Ireland. The two machines have joined a Ricoh Ri 100 DtG printer at Next’s Leicestershire-based reprographics department.

‘We first discussed investing in new print equipment in December 2019 and, having seen and considered a number of machines, we eventually opted for the Ricohs,’ said Next Retail’s reprographics controller Robert Foote. ‘As soon as the printers were installed, they were put to work on our more traditional in-store graphics print jobs.’

Naturally Next was hit by the effect of lockdown, resulting in a temporary halt to window and shops display work, but in order for its warehouses to remain open and operational, the company had to ensure that they were running in line with Covid-19 regulations, including installing floor graphics setting out how employees should keep two metres apart and directing staff around one-way systems.

Mr Foote said the new Ricoh machines were able to step up to the task almost immediately, with thousands of floor graphics produced in just a matter of days to ensure disruption to Next’s online service was kept to a minimum.

‘In the lead up to the first lockdown, I noticed that many supermarkets had begun to install floor graphics, so I decided to get ahead of the game and purchase a lot of vinyl,’ he explained. ‘This meant that when we were asked to create floor graphics for our own warehouses, the Ricoh machines were able to produce this work.

‘This was especially crucial as many print companies had shut up shop when the lockdown came into effect and were unable to support us. Thanks to our new Ricoh machines, we were able to produce the graphics we needed and keep our online service running for customers across the UK and Ireland.

‘The relationship with Ricoh has been great. Moving forwards, we will continue to work in partnership to maximise the quality and variety of output we create with the Ricoh printers.’