AlphaGraphics enhances education presence with Class acquisition

Richard Stuart-Turner
Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Marketing services and print company AlphaGraphics has acquired a longstanding client to help it move further into the education sector.

(L-R) AlphaGraphics' Sean Costigan and Andrew Dalton with Class Fundraising's Mark Simpson and Simon Fulton
(L-R) AlphaGraphics' Sean Costigan and Andrew Dalton with Class Fundraising's Mark Simpson and Simon Fulton

Completed on 2 July, the deal saw the Stockton-based company purchase nearby Kirkleatham, Redcar-based Class Fundraising, which produces personalised Christmas cards, mugs, and tea towels for schools across the UK and provides services including screen, dye-sublimation, and fabric printing, as well as various finishing options.

The 11 staff at Class Fundraising have all been kept on and joined AlphaGraphics’ existing workforce, taking the total number of staff in the group to 80, and the company’s name and branding will also be retained.

AlphaGraphics had a turnover of just under £8m in its last financial year and operates from a leased 3,530sqm site.

Managing director Andrew Dalton told Printweek there are no plans to relocate the Class Fundraising team before the end of the year but that AlphaGraphics is currently putting a mezzanine floor into one of its factories “and the hope is that at some point next year we will be able to relocate that business into the main factories where we are now”.

He added: “We’ve been dealing with Class Fundraising for nigh on 10 years, it’s been a longstanding relationship.

“We’d moved around the topic [of acquisition] for a few years but then last summer I approached them, and we both agreed to park it until the Covid [first wave] situation and their peak season of September to December was out of the way, and then we started all of the legal stuff after Christmas.”

Dalton said the products and services offered by Class Fundraising closely align with its strategy of focusing on personalised gifts, while also strengthening its existing presence in the schools market.

“They currently spend around £650,000 per year with us, the majority in quarters three and four, which is a major chunk of their annual sales of £2.7m, so the acquisition makes great business sense for everyone concerned. This will take group sales over £10m.”

Class Fundraising was set up by Mark Simpson and Simon Fulton 11 years ago, and the pair will both stay with the business for the foreseeable future to ensure continuity. The company’s kit includes two Aeoon Technologies digital fabric printers, an MHM screen printer, and a Schulze mug press.

Simpson said: “Having worked with AlphaGraphics for such a long time, we’re confident that there’s no better company to ensure the continued success of Class Fundraising.”

AlphaGraphics operates three HP Indigo presses, including B2 and B3 models, two Heidelberg Speedmasters, a five-colour Anicolor and a B2 two-colour 74, an EFI Vutek H2000 Pro large-format hybrid printer, and two Mimaki roll-to-roll machines.

“In the next few months, we’re also looking to recruit an operations manager, who will oversee all aspects of large-format, screen, dye-sublimation and fabric printing, as well as a marketing director and a digital design role,” said Dalton, who added there were some “irons in the fire” regarding other potential acquisitions.

“The Class Fundraising acquisition is the latest step in our growth plans, and we’re always on the lookout for other firms to bring into the AlphaGraphics family.”

Founded in 1993 to offer printing, display, and mailing services, AlphaGraphics has diversified over the course of the coronavirus pandemic, launching an e-commerce platform selling tailored social distancing signs to commercial and corporate clients.

The business also serves clients in the automotive, retail, and hospitality sectors.

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