SMEs merge

In2Print buys Color Co Cheltenham

Dunbar (R with Ashley Wainwright): The purchase is a "fantastic opportunity" for In2Print
Dunbar (R with Ashley Wainwright): The purchase is a "fantastic opportunity" for In2Print

Cheltenham commercial printer In2Print has acquired its neighbour, Color Co Cheltenham, allowing the firm to recommence a 24-hour shift pattern.

In2Print, which produces litho, digital and wide-format work, acquired the litho-only Color Co at the end of January.

Bringing over three of Color Co’s four staff in a 1 March merger, In2Print then sold the firm’s five-colour Heidelberg Speedmaster 72 later that month.

Simon Dunbar, In2Print managing director, told Printweek that the acquisition was the natural step for both firms: Color Co had been looking for a buyer for several years; In2Print had been looking to expand its footprint. 

Dunbar said: “They were only three miles down the road. We were closing against the same work, so it just made sense for us to try and work something out with Color Co.”

He added that it was a “fantastic opportunity” for the firm, which with Color Co’s business has been able to step back up to 24-hour shifts, five days a week, for the first time since the pandemic.

He said: “They were a litho printer, with no digital facility, so we saw that as a benefit as well – obviously some of their customers had a requirement for digital or large-format, which we have at In2Print. So we can tap into that.”

While the sale was not distressed, narrowing margins over the past few years had made it desirable for both parties, Dunbar added.

“Long term, it was the right thing to do. We’ve seen that more and more printers are merging together. So rather than try fight for the same work, why not join forces – hopefully, there’s more profit in it for everybody.”

Ashley Wainwright, Color Co’s founder and MD at the time of acquisition, said that there was “safety in numbers” in joining forces with In2Print.

“It’s a difficult market to be in, and you have to move with the times. I think there’s only going to be more people merging together to make slightly larger companies – if you’re a smaller company, it is getting more difficult to survive,” he said.

“If you can find a local printer, like we did, to come under its umbrella and bring some of the staff over, that’s as good as what you’d hope for.”

Wainwright founded Color Co in 2002. Pre-acquisition, it was turning over around £650,000, with the purchase taking In2Print just over £2m. He stays with the business to support Color Co clients, although the brand no longer exists.

“It’s not huge, but it’s just right for us, a good fit,” said Dunbar.

In2Print's last purchase, in summer 2023, saw it take on local wide-format printer Backen Wright along with its Roland equipement.