Citizen Systems Europe is fortunate to work with an array of specialist partners across all of its divisions. Our European network of partners for photo printers are as diverse as they are widespread; offering a broad spectrum of solutions that make our industry tick. In this piece, we shine a light on UK partner, System Insight; a trusted family business with more than 30 years in the sector, it's a business with a great deal to offer.
System Insight is a business that's always been centered in printing supplies as well as solutions and since opening its doors more than 30 years ago, much has changed. Of course, technology has evolved, but so has the customer's relationship with printed matter in general. In the beginning, although always focused on instant print, System Insight's business was formed around the supply of inkjet materials and the company was one of the first to supply inkjet cartridges and consumables in the UK.
Fast forward through the evolution of dye-sublimation (dye-sub) printing and System Insight has become one of the most recognised suppliers of specialist printing products, systems, solutions and services in Europe.
Having had a long relationship with Citizen photo printers, System Insight saw a significant shift in demand of the range when the printers produced driver updates which made them Mac compatible. On this point, company founder and Managing Director, Stuart Morley explained: “We’ve worked with Citizen for a great many years and I’ve always been of the understanding that, if a company can manufacture precision watches, they can probably make a decent fist of photo printers, too. In fact, anecdotally, I learned that when Citizen first wanted to produce their printer range, they couldn't buy accurate enough lathes so they actually made their own! When we first started working with Citizen in 2005, the quality was head and shoulders above what else was on the market. That said, as the photo market demonstrated a clear leaning toward Apple products through the advent of digital photography, I had been knocking on Citizen’s door asking for Mac drivers to be developed. Citizen’s hardware has always been second to none and with build quality and reliability that’s at the forefront of the industry. They have always been very well respected and, when the Mac drivers arrived, we saw an instant shift in demand.”
A Business of Two Halves
System Insight now enjoys a reach into a variety of areas within the photographic sector, defining two clear operational segments to fulfill their customer’s needs.
One-half of the business offers hardware, software, consumables and services to professional photographers, local governments, photobooths, retail landscapes and education environments. The other half focuses on theme park and photographic solutions, such as high-speed capture for rollercoasters and more complex, automated photographic systems for more in-depth experiences.
Stuart admits to having a ‘soft spot’ for event photography and this has seen him providing services for huge music awards ceremonies, festivals and TV shows as well as many, many others. Stuart commented: “I believe that this deep understanding of the client’s needs gives System Insight an edge. When we speak with a client, we can speak their language and they know that we are well equipped to help. Where so many companies will only have the ability to sell products, we offer our knowledge and experience to help solve problems, find solutions and make great things happen.”
The team’s years of experience in the event photography market enabled the business to pivot into the theme park sector. With every single application presenting a unique set of demands, knowledge and adaptability is key to success in the market. In order to devise the bespoke solutions and workflows that System Insight is well known for, the team draws on every element of know-how, as well as planning and testing meticulously to ensure the best possible outcome for the customer. Alongside this experience, System Insight also carries out a great deal of research and development, producing their own technology and IP in solutions such as high-speed workflows or software for roller coasters and scanning and tagging tech for longer-form experiences including some of the world’s best-known attractions. Central to the success of these installations is the printing solution and this increasingly includes Citizen photo printing solutions. Stuart said: “There’s little point installing lower-grade printers into these kinds of projects. By their nature, they need to be reliable and require as little maintenance as possible. If we were to go down this road, it would simply be a matter of time before it came back to bite us and that’s why we deploy Citizen printers. They simply don’t ever let us down.”
As with almost every business across the globe, System Insight saw the effects of the global health pandemic take hold. With theme parks closing their doors, physical retail stilted and the events market decimated, the company had to uncover new opportunities during the various periods of lockdown. Stuart described the early days of the pandemic as ‘the perfect opportunity to explore new vertical markets’. He said: “The opportunities are almost endless; even during a global health pandemic. Everybody was at home and we quickly realised that inkjet printers had all but sold out during the first few weeks of lockdown. This saw us selling Citizen photo printers to the whole printing market with the compact CZ-01 proving very popular. It’s a great printer producing high-quality prints and a range of formats that appeal to the home user. Its small-format frame also means that it can sit on a desk without imposing on space.”
Alongside the home printing customer, Stuart also explained some of the other channels that the company have been opening up whilst their more traditional clients were closed for business. These include areas as diverse as museums, which have taken dye-sub printers for their prints 100 year+ lifespan for archival purposes; fashion brands, who use the printers for their photoshoots, and TV studios, who have been using Citizen printers for continuity - documenting hair, make-up and even lighting between shoots and locations.
With life seemingly returning to something more recognisable as ‘normality’ at the start of 2022, System Insight is hopeful for the photography industry to enjoy a period of stability as its traditional markets open up and combine with new verticals. It’s something that has started to take effect already. Stuart explained: “We’re seeing something of a ‘Champagne’ effect. With consumer confidence returning and event booking on the increase, we’re looking forward to a lengthy period of positivity. We are keen to continue unearthing new opportunities and if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the photo business, it is that you never know where the next challenge will take you. I’m confident that, if we can thrive in a pandemic, you can be certain that System Insight will be around for the foreseeable future. Our team and our resolve will always carry us so far and, working with Citizen; demonstrating unparalleled quality and reliability, the future is looking very bright indeed.”
To learn more about Citizen photo printers and one of our Official Photo Resellers in the UK, System Insight, visit their website: systeminsight.com or call the team on: +44 01329-835500 Monday-Friday, 9.00 am – 5.30 pm.