Fretwell Print & Design eyes turnover growth following MBO

Richard Stuart-Turner
Thursday, November 1, 2018

Fretwell Print & Design is looking to increase its turnover by nearly a third over the next two to three years following a management buyout by two long-serving employees.

Andy Gillett and Gareth Pociecha completed a deal in September to buy the Keighley, West Yorkshire-based litho, digital and direct mail specialist from previous owners, brothers Des and Graeme Fretwell and Peter Denton.

Gillett, who along with Pociecha has now become joint managing director of Fretwell, said: “I joined the company in July 1995 and have been commercial director for 20 years, and Gareth has been with us for 15 years and was previously works manager.

“The deal was in discussion for around 14 months before it was finalised, but it was a very friendly MBO – we’ve worked together for so long anyway and the previous owners still pop in when they’re passing. There are a few extra admin roles for me, but it’s very much business as usual.”

He added: “We didn’t want the company to fall into the hands of a big group who might have just shut down the operation and moved the work into a bigger operation.

“We’ve got a very loyal workforce here, some people have done 30 or 40 years’ service and there are a lot of us in the 20-year-plus group. It’s a nice, stable, hardworking business.”

The Fretwells and Denton retired from the business on the same day that Gillett and Pociecha took over the reins. The former owners’ pension scheme still owns the firm’s premises, which Gillett and Pociecha have just signed a new 10-year lease on.

The MBO was financed through existing internal funds with additional finance from NatWest/RBSIF/Lombard, corporate finance advice from Sentio Partners of Leeds and legal advice from Lupton Fawcett.

“We’ve been with both the bank and the factoring company for 23 years and we’ve used Lombard to finance our last two presses,” said Gillett.

“We have very little finance outstanding anyway because we’ve always been a fairly cash-rich company. It’s still a family-owned firm, it’s just two different families that own it now.”

Fretwell serves print management companies, end users and charities and the Irish charity sector accounts for around 15-20% of its sales. The 50-staff business turned over £6.25m last year and is aiming to grow this figure to £8m over the next two to three years.

It operates a five-colour Heidelberg Speedmaster XL 75 with Inpress Control, a four-colour Speedmaster SM 74, digital printers from Ricoh and Konica Minolta, Buhrs enclosing lines, a Bell and Howell swing arm inserter, a Muller Martini Amrys stitching line, Stahl and MBO folders, and Polar and Wohlenberg guillotines.

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