Fortoak merges with Ticketmedia and Purple Paper

Richard Stuart-Turner
Wednesday, October 14, 2020

The Fortoak Group has merged with Ticketmedia and Purple Paper after acquiring 49% of both businesses as it looks to bring smart technology to printed ticket rolls.

Burbidge (L) with Vergopoulos: "It's a brilliant move"
Burbidge (L) with Vergopoulos: "It's a brilliant move"

Based in Loughborough, London and Birmingham, Fortoak produces till rolls and labels for Tesco, Morrisons, Asda and Coop as well as many other non-food retailers, and also supplies PPE and packaging.

Ticketmedia and Purple Paper are both based at the same premises in Hove, East Sussex, and their managing director Jeremy Burbidge has retained a 51% stake in the two businesses following the completion of the deal last week.

Specialising in ticket advertising of all descriptions, including bus and train tickets, Ticketmedia has been active in the ticket market for over 30 years.

The business works with media agencies and advertisers across a number of sectors and operates 12 machines for printing, till roll slitting, labelling and ticketing, including nine flexo presses from manufacturers including Comexi, MPS, Nilpeter and Mark Andy.

Purple Paper, meanwhile, has provided medical specialist thermal and data processing rolls for more than 15 years. It has major channels into the NHS, dentistry, care home and other medical diagnostic markets which can now be supported with markets Fortoak has created, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic and its supply of PPE and other medical supplies.

Both businesses will become new arms of the Fortoak Group, which also includes Fortoak Rolls, Fortoak Labels and Fortoak Packaging. They will retain their own identity and branding and will remain based at their current premises, which Burbidge owns.

Alex Vergopoulos, chief executive of the Fortoak Group, will also assume the role of chief executive for Ticketmedia and Purple Paper with immediate effect while Burbidge will become executive chairman.

Vergopoulos said: “Ticketmedia is the most successful channel in this form of advertising and the opportunity to branch out the concept into retail and other markets is limitless now through the channels Fortoak has established over its many years. We see huge scope to develop the brand in a solid way to embrace the current changes in the market.”

He added the group is currently developing technology that will attach an electromagnetic tag within its paper rolls and labels, enabling data to be sent directly to brands when a purchase has been made.

“This collaboration will bring smart technology over the very near future into our markets in a very productive but disruptive fashion and change our markets for the better.”

12 staff previously worked at the Fortoak Group while Ticketmedia and Purple Paper employed 15, meaning the combined group's overall headcount is now boosted to 27.

Fortoak was founded as a brand more than 40 years ago. Group sales reached £18m for the year to 31 August 2020, £12m of which was attributed to Fortoak Rolls.

Ticketmedia was turning over between £4.5m and £5m and Vergopoulos said the addition of that business and the innovations coming from Purple Paper should enable the group to reach sales of up to £24m following the merger.

“We are pleased to welcome the Fortoak Group to our family and bring together experiences and energy to create an influencing group of people to take innovation through all possible channels over the next couple of years and beyond,” said Burbidge.

“The fit is perfect for us to develop these new technologies and gain access through the Fortoak customer base.”

Burbidge told Printweek the merger had been in discussions "for about three or four years".

“It was really about choosing the right time because we operate in the same arena together but I was always direct and Alex was more through resellers. It absolutely is the right time now and it's a brilliant move.”

Vergopoulos added: “We're in the process of onboarding a few good contracts with some momentum that's already been pushed over the summer, so we see a lot of good momentum going into this merger.”

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