06 January 2019 Print Companies

KJB growth path has acquisitions on route

Midlands printer KJB is targeting double-digit growth following two acquisitions in successive years, with more likely this year.

KJB Print is preparing for another strong year having achieved a 30% growth in 2018, aided by the acquisition of Creative and Digital Print at the end of 2017 and that of WM Print towards the end of last year. And commercial director Stephen Egerton says that at least one acquisition will be completed during 2019.

“We are not finished yet. In 2019 we will definitely see a 30% organic growth in sales over 2018, when we also enjoyed a 30% growth,” he says. “When I joined in 2012, KJB was running at £2 million in sales. We will produce £6 million next year, possibly more.”

WM had been a long standing business and when the owners closed the doors in June it was a real shame,” says Egerton. But it proved an opportunity for the ambitious and expanding group. The business is now WM Print Solutions and retains its Walsall premises with twin-press operation. One machine is a ten-year-old six-colour Roland 706 that, Egerton says, “needed a bit of love”. More interesting is the two-colour coldset 16pp web press that has been used to print school exercise books.

“It simply eats work, running twice the speed of the B1 press and printing these books at a lower price. It operates through the School Exercise Book company as a separate brand and is a cracking part of the business,” he says. “It delivers work as folded sections that simply need to be dropped on to the Muller.” The books can be supplied with the the school, subject and teacher to customise the product.

There are no plans to move the business from Walsall. Instead a group wide MIS has been deployed across the three operating sites, Cannock and Shrewsbury as well as Walsall. “We are now one of the few business able to offer web offset, B1, B2 and B3 litho print, digital cut sheet and wide format and able to print on rigid substrates to 50mm thick on the Canon Arizona at CDS.

“The MIS is giving us visibility across three sites for scheduling and accurate pricing and giving us production flexibility. It is a very powerful tool.”

A digital line up that includes Ricoh Pro C7100X and Pro C9100 presses as well as Canon machines, amounts to what Egerton calls a “really good arsenal of equipment”.

“And because we have the right equipment, it doesn’t matter which piece of kit we us,” says Egerton. “The Roland can print to 1,000 microns which opens the way to printing on cartonboard.”

Orders received at one site can be distributed to another site for production thanks to the MIS to achieve the greatest efficiencies of production.

The bullishness is backed by the experience of a busy December which has continued into this year. “We are getting a good level of inquiries from new companies that are finding us. We know we can produce the quality at the right price because we have bought well.

“We have had a lot of support from our paper merchants and from suppliers in general.” This is prompting thoughts of instigating additional shifts and moving to 24-hour working at Cannock and in Walsall at some point during the year. Egerton's thanks extend to the bank it has worked with for ten years. Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking provided the £150,000 working capital facility that enabled the establishment of WM Print Solutions and will help push harder into the market for exercise books, valued at £32 million a year.

Gareth Ward

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Down Walsall way

Down Walsall way

The purchase of WM Printing was made possible through the continuing support of Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking. The bank has backed the Cannock business for the last ten years along with its rapid growth in the last five years. Pictured are Stephen Egerton, Abigail Holloway, Lloyds customer relationship manager, and Peter Whiston, sales director at WM Printing.

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