Precision Proco takes over Photobox production hub

Precision Proco: acquisition "completes the circle" in print-on-demand
Precision Proco: acquisition "completes the circle" in print-on-demand

Precision Proco Group has gained a “market-leading” position in a swathe of print-on-demand products after acquiring a substantial manufacturing facility from long-term client Photobox.

The deal was finalised yesterday (1 August) and confirmed this morning. 

Precision Proco Group has bought the Photobox production facility located in Park Royal, west London. 

The 6,040sqm site employs 130 staff, who have transferred to Precision Proco as part of the transaction. 

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. 

“Photobox have been a client for more than ten years, and it was our partnership with them that got us into print-on-demand in the first place,” explained CEO Gary Peeling. 

He said the site was “probably the largest” in the UK for the production of direct-to-material wall art and dye-sublimation products. 

It is geared up to produce canvas prints, photo tiles, mugs, phone covers, greetings cards and silver halide prints.

“It’s a very substantial facility and what it does for Precision Proco is give us a market-leading position in those areas. We’re already a significant player in books and flat prints, what this does is complete that circle,” he said. 

“In terms of producing print-on-demand products, we now have a full suite, at scale. And also the expertise – there’s a best-in-class management team there.”

Gordon Brophy, chief manufacturing officer of Photobox, commented: “We are pleased to have concluded the transfer of Willen Field Road to our longstanding partner Precision Proco Group.

“We are confident it will leverage strengths and skills of the production team on site and with Precision Proco Group’s technology and their ethos will create a positive future for our business in the UK.”

The site (pictured above) runs a range of equipment including EFI Vutek large-format printers, Kongsberg cutting systems, automatic frame makers, three HP Indigo presses and silver halide photo printing kit. 

The facility has the capability to flex its output to accommodate peak season, when it operates 24/7, but has spare capacity even at peak.

Peeling said Precision Proco had secured a long-term contract with Photobox to supply products from the Park Royal site for the UK and European market, and for books and calendars for the UK. 

“The reason the deal makes sense is in driving utilisation in the counter-cyclical areas. We will backfill the out-of-season months with B2B projects, corporate marketing and connecting the products up to our trade resellers and other clients that can make use of the production in different ways,” he explained. 

“We’ll be introducing our automation technology into the plant and then connecting it to the rest of the group via our Inky API, so large and small e-commerce retailers can make use of the state-of-the-art production facility as and when they require it.”

Peeling said the buy would help propel group turnover towards the £75m mark in 2022. 

Peeling also said that Precision Proco’s Dagenham site was in the process of being converted into a “print-on-demand books supercentre”, with new offset and perfect binding lines in the works.

“Our vision is to be the UK’s specialist in on-demand products and to be able to connect and network the sites to any business or any user that wants to make use of it all. We’re also working very hard on the technology at the front-end,” he added. 

“A big part of our strategy is connecting these market-leading facilities to smaller customers in a way where they can on-board themselves.”

Photobox Group includes the Hofmann and Poster XXL brands on the continent. The business had sales of £103.3m in its most recent financial year, to 30 April 2020, and added more than 1m new customers during the period. It is owned by private equity firm Exponent, which also owned former sister business Moonpig prior to its flotation earlier this year.