“Zest approached us a couple of months ago,” says Nicky Peebles, co owner with husband Alistair. “The business was coming to the end of its lease and has just lost a major customer because it had been acquired by a US corporation that wanted to change procurement arrangements. We knew owners Julie and Chris Banks through the UK Design & Print Network and they knew that we had been looking to acquire this sort of business.”
One colour press has been moved to the Basingstoke premises and Gerry Pierce, who had more than 30 years with Zest, stays on to manage the client base in Eastbourne. Zest had started in 1981 as a Prontaprint franchise before being bought by Chris and Julie Banks in 1986.
“It is still fairly early days,” says Peebles. “It was a smooth transition because we were able to see the customer book and because of the trust involved.’
Talk Design & Print has spacious premises in Basingstoke that it moved to in 2016. It had been set up in Winchester as a Kall-Kwik franchise. The business had also owned the Newbury outlet for the franchise chain, before rebranding as Talk Design & Print. The Newbury site was closed and the business moved to Basingstoke after landlords wanted to convert the premises to residential use.
“The new premises is much larger and cheaper,” says Peebles. “We took it on with the idea of being able to grow the business into the space.” Zest is the first acquisition as the ambitious company takes the M&A route to growth.
“We had been trying to grow organically, but it’s quite difficult to do that, so we began to look for opportunities and Zest was the first. If that works we can replicate the plans moving forwards.”
“Zest brings us lots of black and white digital print, where most of our work tends to be colour. We produce our large format work in house where Zest was buying this in,” she continues. “We are quite heavily into creative design which Zest does not do. There are services that we can each offer to the others clients. It’s a very good mix with what we do here.”
Peebles is in no hurry. It will take until the rest of the year she reckons for the businesses to come together and before Talk Design & Print begins to look for its next opportunity.
“There is no problem with servicing Zest clients from Basingstoke. Few are based in Eastbourne today and there is no need to be the in the town.
“The sort of growth we are looking for is not possible without acquisitions.”