Rapidly expanding online print business Your Print Partner has secured outside investment to the tune of £1 million from the Midlands Engine Investment Fund.
The money will be used to fund development of a new website, CustomGifts, which begins its roll out in March. YPP has grown on the back of a trade service for large format print. CustomGifts will personalise anything from clothing to posters to promotional and gift items. This includes licensed products from Warner Brothers, Disney, Marvel, Universal Studios, and the likes of Premier League football clubs Chelsea, Manchester City and United and Leicester City, says CEO Stuart Maclaren.
He has been looking at sources of funding for the next phase of growth for around a year, considering crowdfunding as well as more conventional means of raising funds. “It has taken us about a year to get to this stage,” says Maclaren. “It has meant a lot of discussions under NDA.
“We had an ambitious and exciting plan for growth and one that required substantial funding. Over the course of six months we went through a range of investment raising options, from crowdfunding to overseas venture capitalists, so I am truly delighted to have been able to secure this investment for the group.”
The company has already notched a success with its Santa Sacks brand of personalised canvas sacks as receptacles for the Christmas Eve visit. “We want to change the way that people think about personalised gifts,” he says. “We want to offer different things.”
At the same time as raising the investment capital, YPP is strengthening its board. Chris Cheeseman, who joined the business as a designer five years ago, becomes creative director. He is joined by Jordan Lavender, from Foresight Group, as investment director. A commercial director will be appointed within weeks and a high profile chairman will be unveiled shortly, says Maclaren.
This appointment will raise eyebrows, he explains. “He is a very big name from outside the printing industry who has been CEO of global brands and has a strong operational background.
Your Print Partner has rapidly become the largest user of Mimaki presses in the UK, with continuing investment to increase throughput of printed textiles from its Lincoln factory.
While there will be products sourced from this facility for the new venture, but to handle the scope of the 3,500 products that Custom Gifts will offer, YPP will call on a supply chain of third-party providers.
By Gareth Ward