Differentiation through innovation
Rightfully proud of its legacy as upholstery fabric suppliers in the UK and abroad, Panaz continues to lead the way in terms of product and manufacturing innovation
For more than 30 years, UK-based global fabric supplier Panaz has been focused on design excellence and differentiation through technical innovation. This has resulted in the creation of a comprehensive range of exclusive, high quality, durable and flame retardant technical fabrics and wallcoverings, which has helped to set the business apart from other UK fabric suppliers and contract fabric suppliers worldwide.
“We are considered a specialist in the contract area of textiles, operating in the hospitality, healthcare, education and corporate sectors,” explains Panaz’s Chief Operating Officer, Rollie Attard. “We have made our name by not only designing amazing fabrics – which we develop within our in-house design studio – but also through the embracing of innovative manufacturing techniques and technologies that we use to respond to the needs of our customers.”
Working with internationally recognized interior designers, Panaz’s portfolio of hospitality fabrics today grace some of the most iconic interiors, whether these are found within hotels, cruise ships, casinos, restaurants or theatres throughout the world. Meanwhile, the company’s healthcare division specializes in antimicrobial treatments and intelligent textiles used in exacting environments. Thirdly, its corporate division offers contract fabrics to workspace areas, from receptions to employee break out areas.
A combination of an advanced, computerized warehouse and a highly-trained team of people means that Panaz has over 10,000 stock items available overnight for shipping to its customers. It is little wonder, therefore, that the company has remained on a solid growth trajectory for a number of years now. “Over the last ten-to-20 years, we have ridden a steady growth curve,” Rollie affirms. “We have always been focused on achieving good, profitable growth, and that has been a major factor in getting the business to where it is today. Unlike most curves that tend to plateau after a while, ours has shown between five and ten per cent growth per year on a consistent basis, which we are incredibly pleased with.”
In spite of its ongoing success, Panaz is proud to still consider itself a family business passed down between generations who share the same enthusiasm for its work. “Everyone throughout the business really connects with the fact that Panaz has remained a family owned organization, and I think this has helped to foster a real collective passion for what we do,” Rollie continues. “My father is very attuned towards innovation within the textiles space, which is something that has not only passed down to myself, but has established itself as a cornerstone of Panaz’s business culture. For example, we were the first company of our kind to successfully print onto fire retardant polyester – which was ground-breaking at the time – and to this day we continue to look for the next big innovation that will push the boundaries of our industry further still.”
The company’s innovation-based approach has been cited numerous times in the past by its peers and industry accreditation bodies. Notably, in 2004, Panaz was presented with its second Queen’s Award for Enterprise, this time for Innovation whereas its first in 1997 was for Export Achievement. “Something we have never done is chase innovation for innovation’s sake, rather it has always been about solving a specific need of our customers or creating a better end product,” Rollie states. “Take, for example, our Shieldplus antimicrobial technology, which is fast acting, safe and durable against a wide range of bacteria and viruses, providing a nanotechnology-based level of protection. Originally, Shieldplus was created to shield against microbes such as MRSA and Norovirus, but it has been developed and tested since to prove effective in also combating Coronavirus. This fact has allowed Panaz to deliver thousands of metres of antimicrobial fabrics to the NHS Nightingale Hospitals, set up in response to the pandemic in the UK during 2020.”
The advancement of Panaz’s antimicrobial topical spray technology has also opened the doors to a number of other markets for it to be used in. “In light of the pandemic, there is without doubt a new degree of relevance for the technologies that we have developed for the healthcare market being put to use in other industries or markets,” Rollie says. “Our Shieldplus topical solutions are able to provide safe and effective antimicrobial protection for use on surfaces and laundry, meaning they have also been increasingly adopted by customers operating in the hospitality and workspace environments. Our sprays possess all of the relevant food safety certifications, meaning that they are also being used by major supermarkets and retailers across the country to keep their staff and shoppers safe. Furthermore, our Shieldplus Laundry product – which gives an added level of cleanliness to clothes, towels, sheets and pillowcases – is now being used by all manner of hotel brands, from the major nationwide players to smaller independent operations.”
Another innovation of significant note to have been developed by Panaz is its ReMake offering, which lets customers realize their respective visions by giving them the ability to recolour and rework any Panaz print design. “With its easy-to-use layout, our ReMake platform gives customers access to around 2500 different designs, which they can then edit, colour, rescale and customize to their specific requirements,” Rollie details. “Once approved, their designs are sent straight to our printers, which print the design onto paper and this is then transferred onto a sample for the customer to view. We have found that this process alone has cut customer sample lead times down to a matter of days, as opposed to a couple of weeks previously.”
Going forward, the company also has designs on switching some of its focus towards utilizing innovation to improve the sustainability element of its activities. “We have already started to put a fair amount of work into how we can make our products as environmentally friendly as possible,” Rollie adds. “A lot of the time in industries such as ours there is a perceived trade-off between a product’s performance and its environmental credentials, however we do not see things in this way. Rather we are tuned in to using new technologies and ideas that will deliver improvements across the board, and not at the expense of something else.”
The unprecedented year that was 2020 was one in which Panaz used to properly reflect upon the way it operates. It also presented the company with the opportunity to invest capital and resources into its product range and its various technologies, such as its digital printing capabilities. “Another new facet of the business that we have added is a dedicated B2C online selling platform for Shieldplus Sprays and Laundry upon which we can engage with not only our existing customers, but also potential new ones in markets where we have otherwise not been as active previously,” Rollie says.
“I think when we look back on 2020, I reflect on how it has allowed us additional time to innovate and really hone in on the things that we do best as a business. The result is that we are coming out of the pandemic with new products, new customers, even stronger bonds with our existing partners, and firing on all cylinders. With that in mind, I think the future for Panaz looks very bright,” Rollie concludes.
Products: Flame retardant fabrics and wallcoverings