Advances in microfiber products with a smart, creative message

Retail Inspiration
February 12, 2016

We all need to clean our lenses daily, and we all need reminding that we should do it in the correct way, rather than with a piece of clothing or a tissue left in a pocket!

The eyecare professional knows only too well how important it is to encourage and promote good practice in lens cleaning, via products that offer excellent quality and design. 20/20 Europe asked experts in the production of high-quality microfiber cloths at Arpe Barcelona, an award-winning Catalan company focused on innovation to explain how the market is moving and what their product is designed to address at a time when eyewear itself is becoming increasingly innovative and attentive to fine detail and finishing.

Arpe Manufacturers is Spain’s first company to specialise in the production and personalisation of microfiber products with images using digital printing technologies. “We are a family-run company, founded in 1991.

Our parents set up the company with the original focus on cleaning cloths for the automotive industry. We have continued to develop our products for the optical, culture and sports sectors specifically,” explains Joan Pera, CEO of Arpe, whose HQ and production facility is located just outside Barcelona in Arenys de Munt. “Beyond our microfiber cloths for the optical shops, we also now produce the microfiber TUVA towel, iPad screen cleaners, and a range of protective tablet, smartphone and eyewear slips or cases branded “Slif”. We are exporting around 40% of our products, made here in Spain, to over 14 countries in Europe and further afield.”

Arpe itself has grown so successfully that it has won awards for its achievements, both at home and in Germany. “We won a Catalan award from PIMEC for the most competitive microbusiness. The prize recognised our successes across a variety of sectors in 2014, as well as highlighting our expansion in improving and adapting our facilities and implementing new ordering, stock control and billing systems.” ARPE also won the Eppi Promotional Gift Award in 2015, awarded by German publisher WA Media GmbH in 2015. Both awards have come at a time when the company is seeing its most successful growth to date, following steady investment in resources. 

Creative Director, Montse Pera comments: “When we began to use digital printing we explored the potential of the cloth in terms of publicity. As well as creating a more colourful, imaginative product that focuses on precise quality, printed on both sides, we also wanted to develop the way in which the cloths could have added value in terms of marketing potential.

We worked with Varilux when we launched our digitally printed products and they understood perfectly the opportunity they had for promotion via advertising slogans and messages, printed on the cloth itself. The opportunity we can offer the eyecare professional is the ability to personalise their products – whether they are a small independent optical shop or a multinational; we have created a service that can work successfully with all types of business, whether small independents or large-scale firms who require us to work directly with their marketing departments.”

Like other sectors in optics, the cleaning cloth segment is competitive but also changing: “A product that is made in Europe to very high standards is increasingly sought after. We can offer short delivery times and absolute flexibility on order sizes to our European customers, and that is a key factor for many businesses over here. Where we are asked to produce much larger volumes, we have found a way to work with a Chinese partner, but this is an exclusive arrangement just for those very high volume requirements.”

What does 2016 hold for a company like Arpe, that is fast expanding? “We have lots of trade shows coming up such as the PSI in Dusseldorf,” explains Pera. The Slif line is receiving a great deal of attention as is our new TUVA towel, so we will continue to innovate and develop our brand in this vein, with attention on bespoke design, quality production and fast, easy international delivery, within all sectors with whom we have developed a successful business strategy.”


Why microfiber?

- microfiber cloths absorb and wipe away smudges and oils, and can be used in combination safely with lens cleaning products (such as a special liquid spray) for excellent results

- other materials such as clothing or paper towels will scratch and damage lenses; they will not completely remove oils, hair products or even finger prints successfully

- today’s high-quality microfiber cloths offer exceptional cleaning action, as well as high level design and opportunities for promotion/personalisation

- advances in technology have allowed product designers to achieve exceptional levels of print/colour – a perfect match for high-end eyewear products

- personalised products are a nice promotional tool for the optical practice, especially if they come in eye-catching colours with exciting designs and prints

- it’s up to the optician to remind customers that cleaning lenses produces a much better result for the spectacle wearer and that the cleaning should be done daily, just as we take care of and clean our shoes!

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