DECORATOR PROFILE 26 images MARCH 2018 How did T Shirt & Sons progress from a manual screen printing carousel in a lock-up to become the largest DTG print shop in Europe and one of the top five in the world? We visited co-founder and director Andy Lunt at the company’s West Country factory to find out T he new unit housing T Shirt & Sons’ DTG operation opened last year and is home to a vast, well-organised garment area that wouldn’t look out of place at a multi-brand distribution centre, 10 Kornit Avalanche printers in climate-controlled rooms, hulking Adelco dryers and numerous staff, all of whom exude an air of calm efficiency. It’s an impressive set-up in anyone’s book, with machines briskly producing print after print even though it’s only January – a quiet time of year. Well, what passes for quiet at T Shirt and Sons. Brothers Andy and Jon Lunt started the business 30 years ago, setting up with a hand carousel in a lock-up in Bath. They gradually moved up to an automatic screen printing press, then another, then three, then four. The company still has three automatic carousels and, reports Andy, produces amazing screen print work. “But the majority of what we do now is digital, a couple of million shirts a year at least.” They moved to their current location on the West Wiltshire Trading Estate in Westbury 14 years ago. Starting out in a single unit, the business’s rapid growth over the past four years has seen it expand into five units spread across the estate, including the new 34,000sq ft DTG facility, as well as opening a second 15,000sq ft DTG facility housing a further six Kornit Avalanches in the city of Venlo in The Netherlands. “The Holland facility is for localisation, because that’s what it’s all about. If you place an order online and it doesn’t turn up the next day, you’re not very happy: ‘Where’s my parcel?’” says Andy. “Twenty to 48 hours is standard. Anything above Leader of the DTG pack that – don’t even bother. Don’t bother turning up to the party, because no- one’s going to use you. Even 48 [hours] is a bit slow.” Ask Andy to pinpoint the key to T Shirt & Sons’ rapid success in the DTG printing market and he singles out the efficient system that the company has developed to seamlessly take, create and dispatch orders. “Orders that come in today will be out by tomorrow. Everybody, if they get an order for one shirt, can get it out. But if they give you 10,000 shirts or 20,000 shirts, can you get them out on time? That’s the critical bit. That’s when scalability is essential. No serious retailer is going to come and talk to you if you can’t handle their peak volume.” T Shirt & Sons has 124 full-time staff, plus 40 part-time, and operates 24/7 in the months leading up to Christmas,