Fastsigns Birmingham aims high with new ownership

The Gilpin family hope to quadruple the size of Fastsigns Birmingham in four years
The Gilpin family hope to quadruple the size of Fastsigns Birmingham in four years

A family of West Midlands-based entrepreneurs has taken over the Birmingham franchise of wide-format chain Fastsigns, aiming to quadruple the business’ size in five years.

Tom Gilpin, founder of a landscaping business, will head up the franchise, with his father Nigel, an accountant, and brother Jack, marketer, acting as silent partners.

The three have taken the reins from Martin and Janie Drury, who have retired after 28 years running the business.

Tom Gilpin said he was delighted to embark on this new venture with such an established business.

“As a trio, we bring a wealth of experience to the franchise and a wider network, including marketing and customer service, sales and finance: all of which we hope will stand us in good stead to continue Martin and Janie’s work.”

The deal, completed on 1 March for an undisclosed sum, had been in the works since November 2022, allowing the Gilpins to familiarise themselves with the operation. Martin Drury will continue to aid the transition on a part-time basis for three months following the acquisition.

John Davies, managing director of Fastsigns UK, said: “We’re proud to be welcoming new owners, Tom, Nigel and Jack Gilpin to the Fastsigns UK network - a family of entrepreneurs that have a stellar business background, and a genuine love for the Birmingham community.

“On a personal note, it has been hugely rewarding to see how Martin and Janie have developed the business over the last 28 years; overcoming various economic challenges and the onset of a global pandemic, each of which they have taken in their stride. 

“They’ve been exemplary stewards of the Birmingham franchise since 1994, and I wish them both a relaxing and well-deserved retirement.”

The franchise, which employs a graphic designer and production worker, currently runs an Epson SC-60600 1.6m solvent press, a Mimaki plotter, and a Vivid laminator.

The firm mostly produces roll-to-roll soft signage and cut vinyl for local businesses.

Gilpin said it had been a smooth transition coming into print from outside the industry.

“It’s been quite easy. Obviously, it takes practice, and our production person is taking on more and more as he learns,” he said.

The firm is looking to take on more staff as it grows, with Gilpin eyeing up the idea of opening a second location south of Birmingham.

“It’s been run at a steady level for a long time, so we just want to grow the business,” he said.

Gilpin added that it had long been an ambition for the family to set up a Fastsigns franchise.

“We’ve looked at Fastsigns for years, because obviously it wins all those awards for being the best franchise – I always thought it was a bit of a pipe dream, but then the centre came up for sale.”