TPG Direct completes MBO

By Hannah Jordan, Friday 11 March 2016

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The founder of north London-based TPG Direct has bought back his company from The Publishing Group (TPG), the firm that bought it out of administration in 2012.

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Hillan: "We're focused and we're now working on really pushing the brand"

TPG Direct, originally called DM Works, was founded in 1997 by Lincoln Hillan but struggled after the downturn from 2008 and found itself facing closure in 2012.

The Whetstone-based business, which offers leaflet and brochure printing as well as direct mail and marketing, was bought out of administration by The Publishing Group, a marketing, PR and publishing company launched in 2008.

TPG chief executive Ramesh Sharma said he originally bought the business because he was looking to add a print and mailing arm to his young company's offering.

“Although we are publishers and know what’s involved in putting a magazine together we’d never been involved in running a printing company so it was very new to us, particularly on the equipment and technical side," he said. 

After its acquisition TPG invested in a raft of new equipment for the business including a Konica Minolta 6000 Pro colour digital press, a polywrapper, a Duplo creaser/folder, an Ideal guillotine, a UFO folder from Morgana and most recently a Sitma SM15 envelope inserter with camera matching capability.

"Automation is the key. We’ve spent the last few years focusing on that because it’s the only way we can compete in a competitive market and the Sitma and polywrapper have really moved us forward in those terms. They'll be the making of us," said founder and once-again owner Hillan. 

Sharma said TPG decided to sell the £1.1m-turnover firm back to founder Hillan because the group was developing in a different direction.

“We thought there was mileage in this for us but our core media business has begun to take more and more of our time as it continues to grow and we felt we couldn’t be involved in the printing side any more as we look to develop other areas. We felt it wasn’t a growth area for us but we're really confident about it's future,” Sharma said.

With backing from The Funding Circle and Paragon Bank, founder Hillan bought TPG's 87% share of the business back on 5 February for £20,000, to be paid by the end of 2017, and is set to buy the remaining 13% back from an external shareholder in the coming months.

Added to that a move to a new 840sqm premises in New Barnet in May and Hillan is positive about the future for the 10-person team. 

"We've really streamlined our business and processes over the last few years. We're focused and we're now working on really pushing the brand. It's exciting," he said. 

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