Gardners buyer further expands display offering with latest acquisition

Richard Stuart-Turner
Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The UK private equity fund that acquired wide-format printer Gardners last month has finalised another acquisition as it continues to expand its display offering.

On Friday (7 June) Elaghmore completed its acquisition of Watford-headquartered SFD, a creative agency that provides a complete visual needs and global sourcing offering to global brands and retailers, including window displays, mannequins and other visual merchandising, creative design, prototyping and installation capabilities.

Elaghmore will provide SFD with the financial backing to invest in its supply chain as well as to support the creation of advanced design and prototyping capability. The private equity firm bought SFD from the company’s management, who will remain with the business along with its 60 staff.

SFD will continue to operate autonomously but will work closely with Gardners, which designs and manufacturers large-format visual displays, as well as Kesslers, which was acquired by Elaghmore in September 2017 and designs and manufactures digital and physical in-store displays.

The combination of SFD, Kesslers and Gardners, which together employ more than 300 people with annual sales in excess of £60m, will be able to provide an integrated digital and physical display offering for brands and retailers, including in-store, front of store, outside spaces and transportable media.

Greg Koral, partner at Elaghmore, told PrintWeek: “We were introduced to this opportunity via BDO. When we went into the Kesslers business in 2017, it was very much on the basis of a buy-and-build, using Kesslers as a platform for a wider group.

Following Gardners, SFD is the third leg of that. They are all strong brands in their own right but they will also come together for joint pitching on opportunities where each of them can add value to a customer proposition.

“There are a number of customers that we’ve identified where giving them a single touchpoint would be quite attractive. So we see a cross-sell opportunity coming right across the group as a consequence being the major synergistic driver for the transaction. SFD also brings an international dimension that Kesslers doesn’t have at the moment.”

While SFD did some printing in-house “many years ago” according to Koral, it has more recently outsourced all of its print requirements; something Gardners will now be able to assist it with.

“The added attraction on the Gardners proposition is its Agripa product, which is a high-tech Velcro fitting application that effectively enables you to stick a picture frame to the side of a moving vehicle and then put a vinyl print in that,” said Koral.

He added the ability to quickly change over graphics with the system “will provide a different advertising opportunity for people as well as promotional applications for some retail businesses”.

SFD is the seventh acquisition made by Elaghmore from its £60m, initial private equity fund, Elaghmore I (Fund 1), which closed at the end of 2016. The investment strategy of the fund is focused on businesses that present a significant opportunity for growth and value creation.

SFD chief executive Paul Brooks, who will continue to oversee the day-to-day running of the business, said: “This exciting opportunity will accelerate our innovation offering at a unique moment in the history of retail and will enable our clients to forge ahead and break new ground, elevating them above their competition both now and in the future.”

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