Close Brothers launches digital finance initiative

Richard Stuart-Turner
Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Close Brothers Asset Finance has launched a new initiative to provide soft lending against digital print assets for UK SME printers.

This product will enable businesses to fund digital assets without the need to provide any deposit or guarantees.

Close Brothers said that, while it is subject to the status of the business, the initiative has been designed to help printers preserve cash and help them to make a quick decision in a fast-moving part of the market.

“We’ve had our eye on the digital market for some time. Everybody’s been talking about it for so many years but now nearly every print company has some sort of digital print engine, some more than others,” said David Bunker, assistant managing director of Close Brothers Asset Finance’s print division.

Bunker said the traditional banking view is that digital printers represent little value, making them challenging to underwrite historically, and this is a reason that the vendors themselves have often provided finance.

“But we’ve seen a space in the market where customers want something that’s not related to consumables,” said Bunker.

“With this we are underwriting the customer rather than the asset, so it’s a traditional hire purchase to fund the machine over three or four years. Using hire purchase instead of renting the asset they get the tax benefit from it and so it’s been a customer-driven product really.”

All types of new or ex-demo digital production printing machines will be considered for finance; from high-speed, high-capacity printers for commercial printers and in-house departments to continuous-feed printers for high-volume printing.

Close Brothers will discuss this initiative with visitors to PrintWeekLive! tomorrow and Thursday (8 and 9 March) at Coventry’s Wasps Arena.

“We are going to be handing out information about this at the show and talking to both suppliers and our industry partners,” said Bunker.

“It’s not just about the digital print engine vendors themselves but also the support to vendors around finishing, because usually these assets are bought in conjunction with specialist digital finishing machines. We see it as being more than just relating to one product.”

He added: “It gives people quite a lot of flexibility, people might want to use a print vendor for the whole solution but sometimes they like to shop around. And the funding of the machine can be split out; quite often service contracts with the vendors are unrelated to the finance so printers can acquire service contracts directly with the vendors.

“It just provides another product to the market. The role of the print vendor’s package deals is obviously there, we’re just looking to complement that and offer something to our customers that gives them some choice and flexibility that we didn’t provide before.”

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