GT4 Group targets £12m turnover following TPL Labels acquisition

By Richard Stuart-Turner, Friday 15 January 2016

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GT4 Group, owner of Glasgow-based labels and packaging printer Gavin Watson and creative agency GT4, has entered the pressure-sensitive labels market by acquiring label manufacturer TPL Labels.

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TPL Labels manufactures pressure-sensitive labels

The Lanarkshire-based label and packaging group completed the acquisition – for an undisclosed sum – in October and is now aiming to boost its turnover to £12m, although it would not disclose how much of this was expected to come from TPL.

Gavin Watson specialises in wet-glue label manufacturing for the spirits, coffee, food, water and beverage sectors, while East Kilbride-headquartered TPL Labels manufactures pressure-sensitive labels – a market GT4 Group said is forecasted to grow significantly over the next few years.

GT4 Group chairman Ian Johnstone told PrintWeek: “A lot of clients that use wet-glue labels also use very significant quantities of pressure-sensitive labels.

“In discussion with clients we were being asked a lot about pressure-sensitive labels so it seemed the right decision strategically to look into that market to be able to offer both.”

The firm considered starting from scratch in the pressure-sensitive labels market by buying new equipment but Johnstone said the group’s view was that it would take a long time to build a reputation.

“We decided it would be a good idea to acquire somebody who was already in that market, was respected and had a good position, was well equipped and had good embedded skills within their business, as the skillset is a bit different to wet-glue,” he said.

“We looked for a while and came across TPL Labels, who have nearly 40 years in the market. The owner was looking to retire so it really just ticked the boxes.

“There was a really good management team within the business, a good skillset, a decent customer base and it's also geographically quite good for us.”

The firm said the acquisition has provided clients with a "one-stop shop", meaning they can now avoid the need to use several manufacturers for their label requirements.

TPL Labels has remained at its current premises, the brand name has been retained and all 27 staff have been kept on, taking GT4 Group’s total staff number to 97.

TPL operates equipment including a Gallus 10-colour flexo press and an Aquaflex six-colour flexo press. This joins the group’s existing kit, which includes two Heidelberg Speedmaster XL 75 presses, Heidelberg digital machinery, HP Latex wide-format equipment and a range of finishing kit.

Gavin Watson serves blue-chip customers including Highland Spring, Nestlé, AG Barr, Diageo, Innocent and Baxter’s Food Group.

The acquisition has brought a number of new clients to the group covering industries including spirits, beer, automotive, cosmetics, electronics, healthcare and pharmaceuticals.

Johnstone founded GT4 together with chief executive Tom Brown in 2003 before acquiring Gavin Watson in around 2007. Last year the business acquired fellow Scottish commercial printer Creative Colour Bureau (CCB) in an all-share deal.

The group said it would consider further standalone acquisitions in the future to continue to add value to its clients.

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