Tetenal Office - Leicester

Phil Barker - Marketing and Sales Director


Dating back to 1847, here at Tetenal we are one of the oldest names in the photography world. As such we have weaved our name into the industry over the years, working alongside big brand names that are synonymous within the Industry as well as appearing in numerous photography magazines and websites.

You will find regular content from us inside the cover of BPI (British Photographic Industry) magazine, the leading trade magazine for the UK photographic industry. Most recently our Head of Sales and Marketing, Phil Barker, has found himself sitting down with BPI to discuss the latest market trends and developments, and ultimately find out how these can help your own photo and retail, or minilab business not only survive, but moreover thrive as we head into 2018…

Read full BPI interview with Phil Barker here.


BPI News: You distribute for some of the leading names in the photo print business. It’s easier for a single brand supplier to offer their products, as there is no conflict, so how do you work with customers to choose the right equipment for their individual needs and at the same time keep your brand partners happy?

Phil Barker: Good question and one we didn’t find easy to manage when we opened up our product portfolio to include other brands. We started putting customers in brand boxes, as this is what the industry has always done; i.e., they’re a Fuji customer, they are a Kodak customer etcetera. We quickly became aware that no single brand could deliver everything our customers needed. This was a challenge, but our technical departments across Europe developed solutions for us to start offering the right equipment mix based on our customers’ requirements.

To answer the point about keeping the brands happy, we work closely with all of them to keep them up to speed on what they should be working on based on what the market demands at a local level. The benefits of this are clear to see as they are all pushing to improve their software and hardware and their sales are increasing, which makes it a beneficial relationship for us and them.

Q: What are your views on the relative strengths of dye sub printing versus inkjet and do they both have a future?

Both technologies have a place in our market and most of our customers have a mixture of both. Inkjet technology tends to have the edge when it comes to quality, print finishes, print widths and cost per print, but dye sub technology tends to be less problematic and the hardware costs are much lower. We offer printing solutions from Epson inkjet, together with DNP and Kodak dye sublimation. Another point to mention is both technologies produce fantastic photographic prints that our customers are happy with. Sometimes as industry specialists we compare too much, and the reality is both technologies are more than acceptable.

A Kodak Express Store

Q: Should owners of wet labs be looking to move across to a dry solution?

As Tetenal are a manufacturer of photo chemicals we of course want to sell chemicals for many years to come, but we understand the market is evolving and dry labs are the future for a large number of our customers. We try and help our customers make an informed decision about their next purchase. The reality is the list of advantages of changing to dry is growing and I can’t think of any customer that regrets making the switch. With print volumes decreasing, the need for a high-volume printer is no longer necessary for many, and other pieces of equipment like the wide format printer, kiosks and gifting kit are equally as important as the lab, as the revenues through the business are no longer all generated from one piece of equipment.

Tetenal Technical Team

Q: What do you see as the main challenges facing the mini lab market in 2017/18?

In general terms, there’s the challenges that all small businesses across the country are facing; notably online competition. Some of the industry issues I see when I’m out visiting customers relate to old equipment in the market that can’t communicate with the latest mobile devices and this has a general negative impact on the industry. I also see large numbers of photo retailers that still aren’t using social media to sell their services. We are actively working with our retail customers to create an improved customer experience.

The independent and group customers who are seeing large growth are the ones who now cater to a changing demographic who need to be inspired and reminded of the wonderful products and memories that our industry can produce. Online retailers have seen huge growth in photobooks, aluminium panels, stretched canvas and photo gifts. These products can be produced in store or via fulfilment partners and hold much higher margins than standard prints, yet large numbers of retailers still aren’t offering these in-demand products.

Q: How do you see the photo printing business developing over the next three years?

I see a bright future for the industry, as the technology that supports the industry has improved and is allowing high street to compete with online. I see photo retailers adding ecommerce facilities and social media sites to give them a more rounded offering. I believe that retailers who promote and market their business in their local community will see growth, as we are seeing this happen already. I think we will see more retailers adding mini studios to their stores and more retailers using fulfilment partners, via kiosks and websites, to deliver high quality items that were once only available to the large pro labs back to stores. Ultimately the market is there, and the high street needs to take a larger slice.

Q: What can you offer your customers that some other distributors don’t?

We have a very committed and passionate team at Tetenal who have vast amounts of industry knowledge and experience. We also have lots of young energy in the business that brings fresh ideas and a modern approach to everything we do. Customer service and support is very important to us: We supply the equipment and consumables, provide technical support for the equipment and we’re always on hand to offer advice and assistance wherever we can.

The fact that we work with a variety of different hardware suppliers means that we can take a more rounded view of what works best for the customer, rather than trying to make a single brand of equipment fit. Having a number of demo rooms and store concepts is important to our customers when they need to upgrade or add additional equipment to their range. Being a manufacturer to the photo industry and also a distributor gives us a more rounded understanding of the market and better visibility of trends and costs. We pride ourselves on having what we believe to be the largest stock holding of any supplier to our channel in the UK and always do what we can to put the customer first.

Q: Tetenal is not just a UK distributor you also have businesses based in Germany, France and Poland. Do you work closely together and what benefits does it bring?

Although the markets across Europe are very different, we have tried to work more closely together over the past year. This includes quarterly meetings to discuss Sales & Marketing activities, where we look at what has worked well in particular areas and whether we can use any of the lessons learnt in our own markets. We are also building a programme of marketing asset sharing across the group, whilst also looking to bring our technical teams together on a regular basis to discuss new initiatives and best practice. Wherever possible, we also look at new distribution opportunities as a group. Our pan-European reach makes us an attractive partner for many businesses.

Q: What key products are selling well across Europe that UK photo retailers should be promoting?

Photobooks are growing fast across Europe. There are more websites offering books than ever before and we feel it won’t be long before they start to be an established industry product. Using a fulfilment partner is the easiest way to offer these in store. A top tip is to create a photobook display area with a mixture of sizes and finishes. This will introduce the concept to your customers and entice them to order the book via your kiosk or website. Some have suggested that aluminium panels will be as big as the canvas market in the near future. These super-high gloss panels look stunning and the bigger the better. Again, you can have these fulfilled via your kiosks or website. We have a UK high street customer focusing on these larger size panels and using social media to engage with their target market, and this customer is selling 30 to 40 per week.

A Tetenal Show Room

Q: What does the future hold for Tetenal?

For the past five years we have been improving our portfolio of products, growing our team and developing our offerings and facilities. We aren’t the traditional distributor who just moves boxes between manufacturer and shop owner; we do so much more. For example, one of our on-going projects is the work we do with Kodak Express. We recently developed and implemented a brand new fully e-commerce website for our Kodak Express shops. The project offers each of our Kodak shops their own individual website, with fully editable photo software and built-in product fulfilment for retailers that can’t produce everything in-store. I would like to think we have a very open and honest relationship with our customers and this is the basis of Tetenal’s growth. For an industry to keep moving it needs good suppliers and we will continue to do all we can to support our customers for many years to come.


Get in touch with Phil Barker now via phil.barker@tetenal.uk.com or call 0116 289 3644. Email Tetenal at marketing@tetenal.uk.com to take advantage of its expertise with regard to leading brands and to find out how it can boost your business into 2018.