GH Display expands with Hytner Exhibitions acquisition

Richard Stuart-Turner
Friday, December 7, 2018

GH Display has acquired Hytner Exhibitions and will complete a move into its larger premises before the end of the month.

The acquisition, which was completed yesterday (6 December), will combine the complementary skills held across the two exhibition graphics and display companies and significantly increase GH’s operating space and capacity.

Both Hytner and GH provide high-quality custom exhibition stands, custom displays and portable display equipment.

“We’ve won some really exciting stands for next year, one of which is 39x25m, and we almost had a dilemma earlier in the year where we were so excited that we were winning these really big projects, but we were massively out of space to build them,” said GH Display sales and marketing director Jenny Hodson.

“This is when we started to look for units and this fantastic opportunity came up where Gary [Hytner, who founded Hytner Exhibitions in 1993] was looking to retire. He’s been running a great business that’s almost identical to ours and Barclays, who we currently have our existing units on a mortgage with, have been extremely supportive in getting us the finance to do the deal.

“Gary was looking to sell his units with his business. He had parties who were interested in buying Hytner, but didn’t want to take the staff or units, and he had other parties who were interested in the units for a different business, but we thought we could take them both if we could get the finance.

“We weren’t sure whether it was achievable or if we could get the finance, but it’s all come together amazingly. We approached Gary in June this year and we’ve been working on the deal since then.”

GH is now selling its long-term 557sqm premises in Werrington, near Peterborough, and it has now started the process of moving across to share Hytner’s premises in Washingley, around 12 miles away. GH’s seven permanent staff and Hytner’s four employees will all remain with the business, with Gary Hytner staying on a consultancy basis two days a week, and the company will next look to recruit a print technician.

Hytner’s site is over two acres in size and has 1,860sqm of workshop premises. GH said the location “provides excellent motorway links” and provides plenty of space for both companies to operate and continue their growth.

“We should be in by the Christmas holiday and start the new year all as one team at the new office and workshop,” said Hodson.

GH already operated Mimaki and Epson printers and a Summa cutter and the acquisition adds Hytner’s Roland DG printer-cutter, Graphtec plotter-cutter and CNC router to its equipment portfolio. The business will continue to outsource fabric printing.

“We’ll be able to do work quicker and better and do more of it. We’ve been in a fortunate position where we’ve had to turn work away but now, we hope that we will be able to say yes to everything because we’ve got the capacity,” said Hodson.

Both businesses will be run side by side for the time being, with the respective teams working together across both. While a rebranding exercise is a future possibility, it has yet to be decided on.

“Hytner has got a really loyal customer base, as has GH Display, so the last thing we would want to do is upset any of that and lose the Hytner identity. But longer term we will need to think about how we successfully merge those brands without losing the value of either,” said Hodson.

GH Display was founded in 1976 by Graham Hodson. John Hodson, Graham's son, and his wife Jenny purchased the business and took over the reins in 2013, at which point it had a turnover of £186,000.

The firm’s sales have since increased to £800,000, while Hytner’s turnover for 2017/2018 was £625,000. The forecast for the combined business for the next financial year, based on its current order book, is £1.75m.


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