The print company that is intimately connected with the festive season is on a roll, lifting sales 14% in the first six months of the financial year. IG Design Group (previously International Greetings) is responsible for producing millions of Christmas cards, more than 70 million Christmas crackers and millions of metres of wrapping paper.
Now it is expanding into retailer branded bags, an adjacent sector that the company describes as ‘not for sales’ consumables. A high speed machine for making these bags was installed in the first half and by the end of the period in September, the company was reporting a strong order book.
A second part of the strategy is international expansion with acquisitions in North America and Australia in the first six months of the financial year.
Overall sales for the business have increased 14% to £166.5 million (£145.5 million). Pretax products rose 27% to £10.5 million (£8.2 million). UK sales, with many products supplied from facilities in China, reached £57.5 million, an increase of 4%. The North American operation delivered revenue of £69.7 million.
Future growth is expected to be “heavily fuelled by the US business” says chief executive Paul Fineman, describing the results as “a very pleasing start to the year with positive momentum going into the second half and beyond”.
Sales in Europe rose to £20.8 million. The company has placed an order for a new high speed, highly efficient press for delivery early in 2018. While IG Design does not specify the supplier, it has in recent years invested in flexo machines from Uteco, including one in 2014 that was officially started by HM Queen as the centrepiece of expansion at its Ystrad Mynach factory. This is used to produce wrapping paper and now the substrate for branded bags.
The factory in Holland, acquired in 2014, already runs a CI Uteco producing wrapping paper. Sales in Europe rose 19% to £23.6 million for the first half.
IG Design Group has reported growth in double figures in the run up to Christmas and has placed an order for a further high speed, high definition press for its factory in Holland where an Uteco is already in operation.