Boasting a talented, responsive and fast-acting in-house sales, marketing and graphics team, it’s no surprise that one of HLD’s strong points has always been the design and sale of printed t-shirts into rugby and football clubs.
And over two years ago, in an attempt to match output with demand, the company were amongst the first to experiment with the then relatively new technique of Direct to Garment digital printing. What’s more, HLD can certainly lay claim to the title of pioneers in the field, in terms of the sheer volume of t-shirts printed on a daily basis via the DTG process.
Now on the brink of further expansion - with a third machine about to be added to the arsenal, HLD are publishing a finalised price matrix, with a minimum order quantity set at just 25 garments.
"The first few months of operation with the new DTG machines involved a very steep learning curve" says Managing Director Andrew Tranter. “Despite the finished article being virtually identical to a screen-printed garment, the production methods are entirely different, as are the costs involved.
"It was a case of setting aside everything we already knew about apparel decoration and jumping into the deep end in order to explore the potential of the direct to garment process. The method is primarily best suited to very small quantity print runs, so the challenge was to formulate a new production model which maximised the capability and flexibility and, by contrast, the limitations of the technology.”
And the capabilities really have to be seen to be believed. “The reproduction of full colour and photographic artwork is truly stunning in its clarity, easily rivalling and in most cases by far surpassing screen-printed output,” HLD’s DTG Operator Edward Bentley told us.
“Not only that, but unlike other methods of garment printing, with DTG there’s no set-up or origination, no screens or separation work or anything like that,” enthuses Eddie,
"Now that we’ve nailed the artwork and print capabilities of the process, it really is pretty much plug n play.”
All of which means that HLD have successfully rolled out a unique method of responsive t-shirt production, which their existing Rugby League club clients have been quick to embrace.
“And now many of the football clubs are spotting the revenue-spinning potential of this service,” said Andrew.
“For example, a spectacular goal or great individual performance during a match can, within minutes, be turned into a t-shirt design and an MOQ run of tees produced and delivered to the club shop 48 hours later. What’s more, this process gives the product a ‘limited edition’ kudos - in turn fuelling demand, meaning more often than not the line is a sell out and repeated within a fortnight.”