29 July 2018 Print Companies

Circle picks up CPI Books to add extra leg to European print giant

Circle Media Group has the strength to take over CPI Books adding huge book production to its volume web offset and gravure arms.

Circle Media Group has acquired CPI Books, Europe’s largest book printer in a deal that allows the private equity backers of CPI to step aside five years after buying the business for €21 million.

Payment details have not been announced, though the cash deal has been part funded through Close Brothers Asset Finance "as an integral part of the acquisition process”. With demand for books across Europe at best static, Impala, the holder of 52% of CPI’s shares and BPI Finance with 24% have been looking to secure a return on their investment.

The company made an acquisition in French label printer Labelys as a diversification step, but has not followed that up. Labelys is not part of the deal and regains its independence.

Circle Media Group, which changed its name from Circle Printers in April, just weeks after buying Belgian web printers Corelio, gains a new division to tun alongside its high volume print business focused on web offset and gravure printing across mainland Europe. CPI has 16 plants, one fewer than five years ago, and 2,500 staff (down 500) generating sales of €360 million.

Circle Media Group has 11 production sites employing 2,700 and generating sales of €550 million. With the addition of McKays in Chatham, Croydon and Anthony Rowe, Circle gains its first UK plants. CEO and chairman is former Polestar director Peter Andreou. He calls the deal “a transformational next step for us in the consolidation of the European printing industry”.

“With CPI, we complement our existing business with a leading book printer in Europe in a period where the European book market is stabilising, after some years of sharp decline and the use of ebooks now declining. This acquisition also allows us to advance in digital printing technologies and we see great potential for short term synergies between our books division and other areas of Circle Media Group, specifically the commercial printing division.”

It is the largest deal for Circle, assembled from Roto Smeets though acquisition in 2017 and Corelio in March this year. It also includes operations in Germany, Austria, Hungary, Spain and HelioColor in Belgium.

Pierre-François Catté, who has been CEO of CPI Books since before its 2013 refinancing and led the management investment in that deal, remains CEO. He says that Circle and CPI are “complementary companies” adding: “Jointly, we will further develop and strengthen the European book printing activities, while securing employment opportunities and delivering superior service to our clients.”

The move follows the sale of Clays to expanding Italian group Elcograf earlier this year and follows on the heels of Walstead’s purchase of LSC’s operations in Poland. All are part of the consolidation race to secure control of high volume printing across Europe.

Gareth Ward

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CPI France

CPI France

CPI Books was the first to install the HP T300, a move that has led to numerous installations of the inkjet web press to cope with shorter print runs. Now that capacity and experience will be available to Circle Media.

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