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Watershed Group Continues to Pioneer Innovation in Label Production

The modern Performance Series press joins three legacy Mark Andy presses

St. Louis, Missouri USA (24 July 2019)

It is hard to find a better example of strategic planning that yields sustained growth and profitability than the Watershed Group, Ireland’s largest privately-owned international labelling and packaging company. Watershed has just completed a €3m spend that included a move to new headquarters in Dublin and the addition of another Mark Andy P5E Performance Series flexo press.

The factory move, which was carefully planned and handled by a team of technicians from Mark Andy UK to ensure no loss of production, offers Watershed twice as much space as before, and is seen as key part of the Group’s €30m revenue target over the next two years. Staff numbers have continued to grow in an operation that is renowned for its high efficiency.

With 11 Mark Andy presses distributed across the Group’s production sites in Ireland, Germany and Poland, the commitment to the American company’s technology has been fundamental to Watershed’s continuing double-digit growth. “We decided that building close strategic partnerships is a key element of our growth strategy and aligning our business with Mark Andy continues to be the right decision. As with all partnerships, it’s not been without issue, but both sides have benefitted from their commitment to work at a problem and develop the solution” explains Watershed’s entrepreneurial CEO Liz Waters. “We were the first label company to operate Mark Andy presses in Poland, Germany and Ireland and we envisage that the relationship will continue to grow,” she added.

Watershed DSPatrick Murphy and Liz Waters say their new Mark Andy hybrid press is the perfect combination of inkjet and flexo for high-quality labels, and has opened new markets for the company

The decision in 2018 to install the first digital hybrid press in the UK and Ireland was part of the Group’s strategy to compete in the market for premium drinks labels. This also involved the acquisition of an existing speciality drinks business, the multiple award-winning company ‘The Label Factory’, which provided an instant entry into that sector. Keen to bring their unique brand of innovation to this market, Watershed knew that specialist technology in the shape of future-proof, innovative, inkjet capability, was required to differentiate themselves from other label converters and offer a wider range of new and exciting print options to their customer base.

As the only true single source inkjet/flexo hybrid in the market, the Mark Andy Digital Series offers Watershed unmatched speed and flexibility to cater for top-quality short to medium run labels across a range of substrates with inline finishing. According to Watershed Director Patrick Murphy, “We know how good Mark Andy flexo quality is, so the commercial possibilities and cost saving benefits of combining flexo with the flexibility of digital inkjet in one press was too tempting to resist. The digital quality matches the flexo, and if need be, we can bypass the digital engine and run the press all flexo.” 

This highlights the Group’s emphasis on single-pass production using a range of inline finishing and converting options, giving Watershed a major advantage for many of Ireland’s leading distilleries. One recent job involved the launch of a new gin by the well-respected Irish TV personality Graham Norton. The label, with a complex combination of print finishes, typifies the scope of the Mark Andy Digital Series press by utilising all of its added-value capability including hot foil, embossing, debossing and die-cutting. It is the quality and speed with which Watershed can turn projects like this from initial brief to delivery of finished product that sets them apart and gives meaning to the Group’s claim to have a big company approach to growth and investment in technology, but a small company approach to building personal relationships with customers.

The latest machinery package included another Mark Andy Performance Series P5E flexo press (Watershed’s seventh), the Digital Series inkjet hybrid press based on the modular P7E platform and two Rotoflex HSI, pharmaceutical standard inspection rewinders, fitted with Eye-C technology for 100% accuracy. The P5E is an eight-colour 17” (430mm) model fitted with full UV, turn bars, delam/relam, chilled impression rolls and the QCDC die station. The Digital Series has a 330mm (13”) web width and is fitted with four flexo units, one with reverse print option, along with the CMYK plus white inkjet engine, laminating and QCDC-SR die station.

The two Rotoflex HSI units provide roll-to-roll label inspection, slitting and rewinding, in an operator-friendly horizontal orientation. Their design is focused on productivity, offering considerable time and waste savings that increases efficiency in Watershed’s demanding production environment. They have a 440mm (17.25”) web width capability, and feature Servo eDrive and URC 2.0 control for production speeds up to 305m/min (1000ft/min), and crucially offer 100% inspection with the latest Eye-C technology.

According to Liz Waters, the international label business is becoming even more consolidated and it’s here that she sees the advantage of production capabilities in different locations. “The recent installation of Label Traxx MIS has provided us with so much quality information that we can evaluate the productivity and potential of each press in each plant to give us and our brand owners complete supply chain flexibility. “The analytics which we get from LabelTraxx are essential to running any multi-press operation to its maximum efficiency,” she said, adding, “for an operation like ours, which is margin driven, live accurate data is vital”. This addition to the Group’s capability also provides the opportunity to develop an international sales team whose client base will also benefit from the commercial flexibility offered by multiple locations.

Responding to the growing market demand for sustainable packaging and supported by Enterprise Ireland, the Government sponsored agency, Watershed has brought together a unique working group of suppliers and academic institutes to pioneer and develop sustainable packaging options for its customers, which they are currently trialling with key customers.

Other innovations within the Group will see Watershed install a Vivo Colour Solutions system, the first in Ireland, from its partner Flint Ink - this highly accurate and versatile colour management device will help Watershed to increase productivity and reduce waste by offering fast colour matching and control.  With more business acquisitions planned for 2019, Watershed Group is looking at the greater European scene for opportunities to grow and diversify. With its track record of success to date, it’s difficult to imagine anything less than rapid and profitable growth.

As a leading packaging supplier to the major international retail chains/brands, Watershed Group is acknowledged for its quality with BRC ‘AA’, HAACP, ISO 9001, multiple print awards and Esko’s HD Flexo Award. Liz Waters is conscious that making a good impression is always key in both senses of the word. “We are acutely aware that our product is the first thing that consumers see on shelf – so it is our responsibility to make sure that it exceeds expectation,” she concluded.

About Mark Andy Inc.

Mark Andy Inc. is the Total Solutions Partner to the label and packaging industry with a mission to be 'the supplier of choice with high quality innovative solutions that drive customer profitability.'  The company responds to business needs by offering a broad range of equipment, education, support, and supplies to printers and converters around the world. Partnering with Mark Andy means access to award-winning technologies including Mark Andy flexographic and digital hybrid printing presses, Rotoflex offline finishing systems, and a complete line of consumables and press room supplies from Mark Andy Print Products. The company has the largest customer support team with global coverage, offering spare parts, technical service, retrofits and rebuilds, PM programs, and superior training through Mark Andy University. For more information, visit

Word document copy of news release can be found here.

For additional media information, please contact Amanda Flower at  / +1 636 681 9036.