Rapidity hits M&A trail

Rapidity has expanded onto a second site with the acquisition of litho and digital printer Lefa Print.

The London-based on-demand print specialist has acquired the Sidcup company for an undisclosed sum. Lefa’s former owners Edward Arthur and Andy Gibbons sold the firm in order to focus on their core property interests.

Rapidity managing director Paul Manning said he had been looking at potential acquisitions for a while, and Lefa Print had “ticked all the boxes”.

“It’s a good location, a good building, with good staff and customers. All in all, it’s a very neat business and as part of Rapidity it will take us up to a bigger level.”

Lefa Print is based in a purpose-built 1,400sqm industrial unit. The company employs 18 staff and has sales of around £1.5m.

The deal marks a return to litho printing for Rapidity, which had run litho presses at its EC1 site before going all-digital around a decade ago. 

“We’ve been looking to get back into litho for a while, which might surprise people,” Manning added. “We are an on-demand printer and whether it’s litho or digital or inkjet it doesn’t matter to us. A lot of our customers want litho.”

Lefa Print runs a six-colour Speedmaster 74 and two GTOs. It has Xerox iGen and Nuvera digital presses, and a range of in-house finishing equipment.

Manning said the latest LED-UV litho technology was potentially of interest, but the first priority was to make the most of the existing assets across the two sites.

“We will do some work on the systems and implement our Tharstern workflow in Sidcup, so we will have a cross-site workflow and can cross-sell our services. Having a second site is also good for disaster recovery and our secure work, and the additional space will be ideal for our mailing business,” he said.

“Rapidity is a growing business and we are adding services that we don’t currently have to provide a broader offering for our customer base. We’re excited about the potential, it’s a very positive move.”

Manning said he, together with his brother, production director Ben Manning, would initially take a hands-on role in bringing Rapidity’s systems and processes to the Sidcup site. The business will retain the Lefa Print name for an interim period.

Rapidity currently employs 45 staff and is expecting sales of £8m in its current financial year. It recently revamped its digital offering with a £1.75m re-equip.

The company had previously expanded with the acquisition of Tapestry's printing operation in the summer of 2016, and some of 1st Byte's assets the prior year.