Hot off the press: Reflex Label Plus

IWSC news

Wed 16 Aug 2023

By Lucy Shaw

Reflex has been at the forefront of wine and spirits labelling innovation for over 20 years. We caught up with Shaun Hanson, manager of Reflex Label Plus’ Keighley site, to get the lowdown on the firm’s latest drinks design developments

Reflex Label Plus is one of the world’s leading luxury label printers, with the technology, tools and teams in place to create impactful labels from intricate designs. Its end-to-end service, from brand conception to the finished product, takes in everything from label design and prototyping to colour management, brand photography and sustainable packaging. When it comes to aesthetics, Reflex is able to offer an array of finishes tailored to individual clients’ needs, from cold foil stamping and embossing, to hot foil labels and direct printing.

Founded in the UK by sparky entrepreneur Ian Kendall in 2002, Reflex has grown into a global concern that collaborates with big name drinks brands across the world, from California stalwart Beringer to Chile’s Anakena. With over 800 staff operating from a network of 25 sites across six countries, in 2022 the Reflex Group acquired Macfarlane Labels and its 100-strong team, which expanded the company’s operations into Scotland, Ireland and Sweden. This June, Reflex grew its footprint further with the acquisition of Norwegian label equipment manufacturer Barcom AS.

The firm has been behind a slew of award-winning drinks labels, including a daring design for English sparkling wine producer Ridgeview’s limited edition Oak Reserve Chardonnay. Made from Finnish cherry wood, the text on the label was created using silver and black foils. “It was one of the most intricate labels I’ve ever worked on. The wood had to be cut very carefully, and the foil finish required a delicate balance of force and precision in order to create a deep enough impression. We pushed the boundaries as far as we could go with it, but it was worth all the effort, as I felt a real sense of pride seeing the finished label on the bottle,” says Shaun Hanson, manager of Reflex Label Plus’ Keighley site.


Working closely with its clients to move the needle when it comes to innovation while delivering key design objectives, Reflex has a bulging awards cabinet. Last year it scooped multiple print awards at the Flexographic Industry Association and FlexoTech International Print & Innovations Awards, including a gong for the Los Gansos label it created for Chilean wine giant Cono Sur, which was praised for its intricate colour detailing and print quality. The firm was also named Sustainable Company of the Year by FlexoTech for its green efforts.

Delivering quality label solutions to tight deadlines, 2023 has been a blinder for Reflex, which has seen unprecedented demand for its services. “This year set off like a steam locomotive – we couldn't print labels quick enough, and had to employ 10% more staff to keep up with the workload,” says Hanson, who puts the increased demand down to the quality, speed and level of service Reflex is able to provide.

While a number of client projects are under NDA, Hanson can reveal that the team are currently hard at work developing a glow-in-the-dark spirit label designed for nightclubs featuring a luminous foil that glows under ultraviolet light, which will be a world first. “It’s great to be first on innovations like these. We’re constantly trying to push the boundaries in terms of what is achievable in label design,” Hanson says. With the cost of living crisis biting, a recent challenge has been delivering high-end labels for clients on tight budgets. The trick, according to Hanson, is to think outside the box. “Value for money is not the same as the cheapest and Reflex understands this for a customer’s brand’’ he says.


Earlier this year Reflex collaborated with luxury retailer Fortnum & Mason on a range of drinks labels to mark the coronation of King Charles III. Inspired by the King’s love of nature, the collection included an English sparkling wine, a Jeroboam of Champagne and a single malt Scotch. The label artwork was created by a trio of British artists, which Reflex translated into printed labels featuring intricate illustrations, with bespoke typography by the scribe to HM Crown Office overlaid. Collaboration is key when it comes to these kinds of projects. “Designers have brilliant minds – our job is to make subtle tweaks so that we know the artwork is press ready and can work on a curved label,” says Hanson.

Reflex has bold ambitions when it comes to protecting the environment, and is on a mission to become the world’s most sustainable packaging company. The firm recently partnered with Forest Carbon to plant over 50,000 trees in Cumbria and Scotland across 22 hectares of woodland, capturing 8,778 tonnes of carbon dioxide in the process. As a result, Reflex is now beyond net zero, and by 2030 it will have captured the entire volume of carbon emitted since its inception. Having installed solar panels, wind turbines and LED lights at its various sites, 100% of Reflex’s energy now comes from renewable sources, saving over 4,000 tonnes of CO2 annually. Taking things even further, its fleet of cars are either electric or hybrid, and the company has invested in energy-efficient machinery to reduce its material usage, passing the savings on to its clients.

Among Reflex’s most recent projects was the creation of a limited edition silkscreen label for Dunville’s Irish whiskey inspired by zombie-slaying game Dead Island 2, owned by Plaion. Keen to take fans deep into the world of the game, Reflex came up with an eye-catching glow-in-the-dark skull logo, which was achieved using a special varnish, while a lacquer was applied to enhance the graphics, adding a tactile dimension to the design. “In the drinks space everyone is going for the same bite of the apple, so competition is fierce. We have an amazing graphics team and all the latest tech at our disposal to bring almost any idea a client has to life. And if we haven't got a certain piece of kit we can get hold of it,” says Hanson, who describes himself as an illusionist. “My job is to take a piece of white paper and turn it into something spectacular.”


Reflex Label Plus is Exclusive Sponsor of the IWSC Rum Prodocuer Trophy, which will be announced at our Awards Celebration at The Roundhouse on 19th October.