'This business is still all about people'

Nick Gee to retire next year

Gee: retirement plans include rekindling a youthful passion for dinghy sailing

Denmaur co-founder Nick Gee will retire at the end of the firm’s current financial year, after four decades at the paper and board merchant.

The Sittingbourne-headquartered company was co-founded by Nick and his older brother Mike back in 1983 and celebrates its 40th year of trading this year.

Nick Gee quipped that he had “only intended for it to be a summer job back then”, making the landmark all the more noteworthy.

“The time has simply flown by; I am extremely proud when I look back at what we’ve achieved as a business – the people that we have employed in our company, as well as the extraordinary number of loyal and wonderful customers who have helped to make Denmaur the company it is today,” he said.

Gee will retire at the end of April 2024, at the firm’s year-end.

He said succession and handover plans had been in process for the past 18 months to ensure a smooth transition, and the business had a “tremendous team” already in place to take the business forward. The group's premium brands include the Revive range of carbon balanced recycled papers, and its Delipac plastic-free packaging board family of products.

“For me, this business is still all about people – not just employees and colleagues, but our relationships with suppliers and customers. It’s almost the most important thing that makes it all work.”

From 1 November Mike Gee will become vice chairman, while Nick Gee will take up the mantle of CEO until he retires.

Andy Buxton becomes group managing director, and Doug Jessop has been promoted to managing director of Denmaur’s Media division.

Harry Gould Jr, who took a majority stake in the business in 2019, remains as chairman and Robert Gould is board director.

The business has grown both organically and through acquisition, with its most recent buy being Middleton Paper’s Fine Paper and Conversion business last year.

The Middleton acquisition helped propel sales to £153.4m in the year to 30 April 2023, amid challenging market conditions and overstocking in the supply chain.

“Over those 40 years I’ve lived through a pandemic; recessions, wars we never thought we would see; bad debt left, right and centre; web offset in the UK really falling to bits in my opinion… the lesson from it is, there’s always going to be something we have to deal with,” he added.

“This year we’ve levelled the ship, Middleton is completely paid for and tidied up, and I think we’ve got some very exciting things ahead.”

He will step back completely upon retirement, but will retain his shareholding. Mike Gee will remain as vice chairman.

Gee’s retirement plans include travelling, taking “even longer skiing holidays”, and rekindling a youthful passion for dinghy sailing.

Denmaur is the long-standing paper supply partner to Printweek publisher Mark Allen Group.