31 July 2011 Commercial

Mimeo makes first move in Europe with CLE purchase

US technology based print group brings its internet purchasing model to the UK.

TECHNOLOGY DRIVEN US PRINT GROUP MIMEO has bought St Ives digital printer CLE as its first European acquisition and the basis for further expansion on the continent. CLE becomes Mimeo Europe, retaining CEO James Wardley as general manager of Mimeo Europe, together with the entire CLE team. It is already planning a move from St Ives to Huntingdon into a 50,000sq ft plant with strong connections to distribution hubs at Stansted Airport.

“We looked at nine companies before making our decision,” says Jeff Still, Mimeo vice president of sales and marketing. “CLE is a company with a similar line up of equipment to ours, an all-digital operation with HP Indigo and Nexpress, and which is also technology led. We apply technology to printing so that print can compete as a communications channel.”

MIMEO WAS ESTABLISHED AT THE HEIGHT OF THE FIRST DOTCOM BOOM 12 years ago as a pioneer of web based ordering and document management. US customers placing orders before 10pm are guaranteed delivery of documents by 8.30 am the next day thanks to delivery via FedEx. One of Mimeo’s two production sites is located alongside the FedEx distribution hub in Memphis. It is this level of service that the company intends to offer in Europe both to new and existing customers.

Still continues: “We will be position to offer this by Q2 next year from the new facility. About 10% of our volume currently comes from outside the US and we have many customers have been asking for a European facility because they are international businesses and want to work with a single supplier.”

Mimeo has two production facilities in the US, and a network of sales offices. As well as further operations in the UK, Mimeo has been looking at the opportunities in Germany and in other countries. Producing locally saves on time and is much cheaper shipping through courier services. There are also issues on document size between the imperial systems used in the US and European A sizes.

THE COMPANY HAS GROWN TO 640 STAFF with the acquisition of CLE and is on course for sales to break the $100 million next year. “We are experiencing double digit growth when the rest of the US print industry is struggling with single figures,” Still adds. “We are seeing companies close down their inplants to save on space, people and asset costs and shifting their documents in favour of using a virtual printer located in The Cloud.”

Mimeo was at the forefront of this trend, where companies load documents to its data centre and call off and edit documents as necessary. This covers training manuals, business stationery and marketing collateral. Typical is events based print where the company will offer document collation, tabbing, personalisation of conference materials as well as posters, badges and so on.

Its Marketplace ecommerce platform is the most popular tool for uploading documents and printing on demand. The speed of turnaround is such that a bank can react to interest rate changes and other events after the financial centres have closed. It also offers its technology on a white label basis, having a number of litho printers in North America signed up to offer a service fulfilled by Mimeo. The company also drives the HP Virtual Print Center and would expect to add coverage to Europe as its own network comes into place.

In return Mimeo is likely to offer some of CLE’s photo applications to the US market place.