03 February 2013 Business

Plockmatic seals deal to acquire Morgana of Milton Keynes

The acquisition of Morgana by Plockmatic seems an ideal solution to the question of continuing what has been a British success story.

Plockmatic has bought Morgana Systems, the British manufacturer of digitally biased finishing systems. The deal ends a search for a suitable home for the business started by Paul Garratt and Andrew Webster 35 years ago and allows them to pass the business to an ideal owner.

Both companies are in the business of producing finishing technology for digital print. But while Morgana has produced standalone units starting with a creaser and working up to the DocuMaster Pro collating digital bookletmaker, the Swedish company has focused on supplying engine manufacturers with inline technology. Its folders and bookletmakers are integral to printers built by Xerox, Canon, Océ and others. Plockmatic also has a range of mailing systems which fills a gap that Morgana has had.

“We have had customers ask us to supply mailing systems,” says Morgana managing director Quen Baum. The deal will respond to that requirement. “We have had quite a few approaches from venture capital companies whose only motive is profit for the shareholders and all such offers were rejected because Paul and Andrew wanted to find a home for the business that would secure its future.”

A management buyout was ruled out partly because of Baum’s age and partly because this would have loaded the balance sheet with debt. “So it was never an option,” says Baum. “Plockmatic are completely complementary. Most of their products are inline and distribution of their offline products is not good. There are so many areas, not just sales and marketing, where we can work with each other.”

Garrat will remain involved with the business as a consultant to help the integration of the technology that he was instrumental in developing as the R&D teams are brought together. Arsenal supporter Webster will retire.

Baum stays on as managing director of Morgana while Jan Marstrop, CEO of Plockmatic, will be overall head of the finishing equipment suppliers. Plockmatic is a subsidiary of engineering conglomerate Gimaldi Industri Group. Marstrop, who was in Milton Keynes last week, says: “For a long time we have had enormous respect for Morgana’s people and its products. Together these two innovative companies add value to the printed page as part of the communications mix.”

Morgana has always been committed to manufacturing in the UK, assembling wiring looms and writing software as well as putting together the machines together in a purpose built factory in Milton Keynes. The company had started with a range of folders deigned for small format and inplant use, making the breakthrough when realising that output from digital presses needed creasing if it was to be folded without cracking.

The company made good use of the opportunities in digital printing, helping to expand the company’s sales through exports to stand at £14.4 million in 2011, generating a pretax profit of £1.6 million.