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Then and Now…

Over the last two years, the Directors, and Managers of Countryside Art (supported by a great team of colleagues) have had to use every single ounce of strength, ingenuity and resolve to bring the company back, and then move forward, from the effects of the pandemic.

In the space of three years, we went from having the busiest month ever, before we went into lockdown, to having hundreds of thousands of pounds-worth of orders, already in production, cancelled in the space of a week.

The silent factory, piled high with pallets of printed textiles and boxed orders, was a very eerie sight.  So it’s absolutely brilliant to see all the production areas buzzing with activity again!

Setting up the 8-colour screen print carousel for the first job of the morning   
Digital bag printing with the 10-colour screen print carousel machine in the background     

Starting back up again was like building a new business from scratch as, one by one, the team returned, and orders started to be placed again.  Having left the company in such a great place, before covid, it was frustrating, beyond belief, to not be able just to resume where we had left off.

But one asset we are not short of here is positivity.  We have a great belief in the superb quality UK-made products our printing company creates on behalf of our many very valued large and small customers.

Our large customers include very well-known leading organisations such as National Trust, The British Museum, the RNLI, Cadbury World and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.  In addition, we have so many more top customers, there are too many to list here.  But no matter what the size of customer, each one is very important, and we aim to offer the same level of service to all.    

Our very popular fun Creme Egg-shaped cushions we produce for Cadbury World

Our positive attitude was also reflected by the fact our customers were starting to place much larger orders for tea towels, kitchen textiles, cushions, cosmetic bags and, as people started to venture out again, thousands more printed cotton bags.

The volume of orders then continued to increase, to such a huge amount, we found we were struggling to keep up with demand.  So, we had to head into over-drive to recruit more employees, at a time when the labour market was extraordinarily difficult.  However, in addition to our excellent long-term team, over the last six months we have managed to recruit some great new people.  Who, once fully trained and up-to-speed, in what are very skillful jobs, will really help productivity.

This high speed digital machine was installed in January 2022
This second one (the first of its type in the UK) in
August 2022 – both are contributing enormously to our digital out-put

During the last 12 months, we have invested heavily in new equipment to speed up production and increase capacity.  These include two new D-gen digital printing machines, one of which is the first of its type in the UK.  In addition to the usual type of print associated with digital textile printing, these machines are also great for printing very vibrant blocks of solid colours.  Being able to achieve the sort of depth and strength of colour normally only achievable with screen print.

We do buy some very unusual, and highly specialised equipment to speed up production, such as this automatic screen-washing machine
This new machine automatically cuts the webbing handles for our UK-made cotton tote bags, helping to speed up sewing prep-time

We have also purchased new high-speed dryers for the digital department to keep up with the extra capacity.  Plus installed new screen-making equipment and lots more industrial sewing equipment and sewing machines. 

Finally, in order to further improve our green credentials, we have recently invested in another big block of solar panels.  So now nearly 40% of the electricity we use is ‘home-produced’ and 100% renewable. 

All these investments have been made to demonstrate our belief in the future of our company, our fantastic UK-made textile giftware products, our brilliant team and firstly and foremost, the main reason for which the company exists, our amazing customers!!  

We want to thank you all most sincerely – you have stuck with us through these troubled times, and we want to do our very best for you all!!

A pair of glasses

Description automatically generated with low confidence

Best wishes
Kathy Brookes, Sales Director

Installing the solar panels on a very wintery December day – these will provide nearly 40% of our electricity (on sunny days!)

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