Ancient House back in the black

Jo Francis
Friday, August 5, 2022

Ancient House Printing Group has filed its first set of results since last year’s change of ownership.

Ancient House: focus on EBITDA, not turnover
Ancient House: focus on EBITDA, not turnover

The Ipswich web offset and sheetfed printer was acquired in the summer of 2021 by investment firm RDCP Group. 

In the financial year to 28 February 2022, Ancient House posted sales up nearly 25% at £12.9m, and an operating profit of £730,503 compared with the pandemic-impacted prior year’s operating loss of £277,074. 

In the 2019-2020 financial year prior to the pandemic the firm was impacted by Brexit and bad debts and also posted an operating loss, so the fresh results reflect a substantial turnaround. 

Gross profit margin improved to 35.25% (2021: 26.9%). 

The strategic report said the business had seen “a significant recovery in trade as Coronavirus restrictions have been lifted and the group took advantage of opportunities that arose out of the pandemic”.

RDCP Group founder and CEO Sameer Rizvi told Printweek: “Same as all of our RDCP portfolio companies, we have worked hard to create culture at Ancient House where the focus is on EBITDA generation, rather than on turnover. 

“The management team, led by Michael Underdown, have done a terrific job of maintaining good profit margins despite the increased cost of paper and of course generally high levels of inflation.”

Rizvi said that current trading was robust and “we expect 2022-23 financial performance to be equally as strong as 2021-22”.

Underdown and former joint managing director Allison Berry, who resigned as a director in November 2021,  retain a £1m charge on the company’s assets. 

In his director’s report, Underdown said: “The group is seeing the benefits of its focus on embracing efficient working practices that have allowed the restructure of specific areas of the business.”

He said the approach had mitigated the “continued pressure on sales prices and increase in raw material prices that have again been seen during the year”, and the firm has also invested in IT to meet customer requirements for short delivery times. 

It has grown business with existing customers and added new accounts. 

The company’s core products include catalogues, leaflets, brochures and magazines. 

It runs two five-unit 16pp Komori System 38S web presses with inline spine gluing and rotary trimming. It also has 12-colour and 10-colour B1 sheetfed presses with reel sheeters, along with in-house stitching and perfect binding.

Ancient House has partly offset the impact of the energy price crisis by agreeing longer term contracts, “but will face additional costs should the current situation continue”.

The firm is also exploring the potential to install solar panels on its factory units. 

The number of employees reduced from 76 to 64. 

As a result of the takeover the group is owed £4.87m by RDCP companies, while the group took on new loans during the year of £3.5m. 

RDCP Group's stated ambition is to become the largest private company in the UK. 


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