Streamline owner Lockley beds in with second print firm

Hannah Jordan
Monday, April 7, 2014

Former Inspired Thinking Group (ITG) director Mark Lockley, who bought Leicester-based Streamline Press last year, is eyeing further growth after completing the acquisition of local rival, John Baxter & Sons.

Founded in 1856 John Baxter
Founded in 1856 John Baxter

John Baxter & Sons, a 158-year-old commercial B2 litho and digital sheetfed printer in Hinckley, Leicestershire, employs 28 staff and has a turnover of £2.4m. It services a range of sectors including local authorities, retail, finance and construction, and Lockley said he now intends to start expanding its digital offering with investment, particularly in large-format equipment, to “enable it to produce volume digital print”. 

Lockley, who co-founded ITG with then business partner Simon Ward, said John Baxter’s offering was well aligned to that of Beaumont Leys, Leicester B1 litho business Streamline Press, which he acquired in July 2013. 

“After leaving ITG a few years ago, I decided I wanted to find a nice, small print business that would provide a platform to bolt on other print businesses and create a wider service offering. I was looking for something that would be complementary and John Baxter fitted the bill,” said Lockley.

“It was never the intention to just have a B1 sheetfed litho operation, it was always the intention to bolt on other services. Baxter had a great reputation for colour quality and kit, with B2 litho presses as well as small- and large-format digital capability, which Streamline was lacking,” he added.

“Both businesses are well established, with great reputations for quality, colour and service, in particular Baxters has a very well established heritage.”

The two companies, situated 11 miles apart, will continue to trade as separate entities, with Streamline sharing its back-office support capability, and will retain their own branding. However, they will now be able to offer their services to a shared customer-base of more than 300 companies, according to Lockley.

“Rather than having to deal with multiple suppliers we want to make it easier for customers to get the service they need and what we have is a much more rounded offering,” he said. 

Approximately double the size of John Baxter, 51-staff Streamline Press posted a turnover of £3.5m in its last financial year and Lockely is targeting growth of around £1.5m for the business this year, he said, boosted by the installation in February of two wide-format Epson dye-sublimation printers. 

“It had been through some challenges in the previous years and was trading at a loss but essentially it was a very good business in need of some commercial management and some good sales,” said Lockley. 

Now firmly bedded-in at the helm of both companies, whose acquisitions were backed by £4m in asset finance from Close Brothers, Lockley said his growth strategy going forward would be to “enhance the service offering with selected investments in digital print capability”. 

“These days customers want shorter runs, less stock, more targeted printed communications so we need to increase our digital capability, and that may be through buying kit or acquiring digital businesses. 

“I am certainly looking at other local businesses but I’m not on a national acquisition spree,” he added.

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