Tharstern seeks global growth with US venture

By Jez Abbott, Tuesday 18 August 2015

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Tharstern is using next month's Graph Expo 15 in Chicago as a launchpad for its expansion into the US, one year after a management buyout.

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Ward: wants to turn Tharstern into a global business

The company, which is boasting its most successful year in business, will roll out software systems across the continent to support printing and packaging industries.

During Graph Expo, from 13 to 15 September, managing director Keith McMurtrie and global sales director Lee Ward will introduce new US-based staff for the new company.

“We will show how our software helps manage sales, production, procurement and fulfilment with a ‘joined up’ workflow, including JDF integrations to other vendors’ workflows,” said McMurtrie.

The software specialist started more than 30 years ago and has more than 600 UK print business customers and more than 50 in Australasia. Some 7,000 people use its MIS and workflow systems.

Ward said: “Tharstern has always been a profitable business and, with the right investment, we wanted to make it more global.

“We sat with our private equity company and discussed where would be best to expand. Americans speak English while the US has biggest number of printers in any one country, about 30,000.

“If we can achieve 5% of the market share from 30,000 printers that will be a sizeable amount. However, it's a little bit early to say what we can realistically get in terms of sales or revenue.

“Our current turnover is £4.3m and we won't increase it drastically in the next 12 months. But in the next 18 months or so I would like to convert a least 50 sites to our equipment.”

Ward and McMurtrie decided to set up a US company, Tharstern Inc, instead of trading through distributors. Jennifer Johnson joins the Atlanta office as pre-sales consultant from big US printer RPI.

The US, said Ward, had two main players EFI and Avanti, which supplies the Slingshot MIS. He added that Tharstern was not just an MIS supplier but an “integrations partner”.

He explained: “Strategically, EFI is a little more averse to working with other vendors because they are potentially competition. EFI sells MIS and print kit, but we are an independent MIS supplier.”

Ward, said: “One of the many factors behind our decision to launch into America was the positive response to our participation in the DScoopX 10th annual conference in Washington in March.

“At Graph Expo we will show the ease of integrating our MIS into other workflows such as those used by other market-leaders that include Heidelberg and HP, Manroland, Komori, Xerox, Esko, Enfocus Switch, Kodak, Agfa and Fuji.”

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