‘‘We are now Europe’s fastest-growing paper cup manufacturer, and we want to expand and invest in more machinery to match the growth. It is not huge money, but it would fund our next phase of expansion.’’ Securing this investment would also allow the company to take on new staff this year, Fox said. ‘‘By this time next year, we expect to double our volumes to about 10 million cups per year.
Every 1.5 million cups we produce means we can add another job, so I would expect us to grow by seven or eight people over the course of this year,’’ he said. Fox established Cup Print in 2007 with business partner Hugh Fox. At the time, they were already running a commercial print business together.
Doing the research‘‘We did some research into the packaging industry and found that lead times were extraordinary long and print quality was very poor, so we invested in cup-forming equipment,’’ said Fox. ‘‘It then took us a year to get the formula of specialised inks, mater ials and know-how exactly right. We really started full production in early 2009.’’ CupPrint employs 15 people in Ennis. It produces about 550,000 cups each month and sells to marketing companies, coffee shops, delis and restaurants in Ireland, Britain and mainland Europe.
To grow the operation, Fox said that the company had sought funding from several sources over the years. ‘‘Our current situation has been financed by raising our own capital from personal borrowings and from help from the Clare Enterprise Board,’’ he said. ‘‘Ulster Bank has also been very supportive in terms of both financial help and guidance. It has set up meetings with business angels to give us advice and, overall, has been fantastic.’’
Strategic decisionsFox made a strategic decision, at the outset, to use highquality printing machinery to produce cups suitable for marketing campaigns, rather than take on low-cost competitors. ‘‘We use different printing equipment to the other manufactures. We print at a much higher resolution so we can put photography on the cups with no loss of quality,’’ he said.
‘‘We also do special processes such as embossing and foil-stamping, which other manufacturers cannot.’’ The technology the company uses means that it can offer small, targeted print runs for cups. ‘‘Other manufacturers around theworld will only produce runs of 50,000 or more. We do runs of practically any small quantity to any large quantity,’’ said Fox.
Distribution‘‘We print sheet by sheet, which means we can stop at any time. We have even done a run of 100 cups previously for a marketing company in Italy.’’ Cup Print sells through a network of distributors based in different markets. ‘‘A lot of our work is distributed in Ireland through Bunzl Ireland, which has been very supportive. We also sell a lot of this type of work to the UK through various distributors,’’ he said.
The company is looking into the possibility of setting up franchise operations in other European countries. Fox said that the franchise model would offer the best route to smaller customers in these markets. ‘‘If all the work is grouped together on one truck every week, it greatly reduces the costs,’’ he said.