MBA Group has completed its first acquisition for eight years with the purchase of Inc Direct. The deal is the first for the north London data driven print business since acquiring SR Communications and Warrington in quick succession.
But it does not herald a renewed acquisition spree, says sales director Kevin Stewart. “This is a deal between companies that have been friendly neighbours,” he says. “Both of us are data driven and content led and we have both been able to embrace the opportunities of adding value through email and SMS. There are lots of synergies between the two businesses.”
Discussions between the two business owners have been taking place for a number of years, says CEO of Inc Direct Noel Warner. This is the smaller business focused on retail and telecommunications and operating Xerox and HP Indigo cut sheet presses. It will continue to work from premises in Enfield, at least for the immediate future.
“This is a deal that has been a long time coming,” says Warner. “It is right for us and right for our clients. we have been talking on and off with MBA chairman Bachar Aintaoui for a long time. This time the time was right and it seemed to make sense now.
“Customers have been very pleased for us. It’s a very positive stay to be able to call on MBA's resources.”
These include three Ricoh Pro VC60000 inkjet web presses, Heidelberg offset and full cut sheet mono and finishing and mailing equipment. While Inc Direct has handled print management for some clients, purchase of offset work will now remain under tighter control and within the group and “we can be more competitive” he says.
The Inc Direct brand will continue and Paul Cooke will remain its managing director. Warner's role will be in business development pitching again to prospects that had been concerned about the relative size of the Inc Direct business. “I will be attacking new markets and re-approaching people that we have had issues with before with the bigger opportunity and working with MBA to do so.”
MBA's client base has been tilted towards finance, public sector and utilities and more in transactional print. These provide a turnover of close to £50 million, with an opportunity for organic growth by offering additional services to both sets of clients.
Inc Direct uses XMPie to drive its variable data engine and to create personalised documents on the fly. The Inc Direct online portal is more mature than MBA's, partly the result of the different customer portfolios. The Enfield business also offers large format inkjet which has not been part of the MBA offering.
Inc Direct will remain in its existing premises for the immediate future though over the longer term it will migrate to MBA's Tottenham factory four miles south along the A10. When it does move, the aim is to retain the majority of the staff.
“This really does add good people, and provides new options,” says Stewart. There are opportunities for acquisition, but MBA will not do so for its own sake. “We are not on the acquisition trail. If we acquire it is to add value or because there are complementary digital capabilities,” he continues. “What we are proposing is more of a boutique offering so that when people want service we can do that. Not everybody wants to be another customer in a very large business. We want to make sure that we are there to support customers as a single-source provider.”
By Gareth Ward