GT4 Group acquires Creative Colour Bureau (CCB)

Simon Nias
Wednesday, February 4, 2015

GT4 Group, owner of Glasgow-based labels and packaging printer Gavin Watson and creative agency GT4, has acquired fellow Scottish commercial printer Creative Colour Bureau (CCB) in an all-share deal.

CCB directors Angus MacDonald and Mark Coll have joined the board of GT4 Group, which plans to consolidate CCB into the larger Gavin Watson site some 10 miles away.

GT4 Group chairman Ian Johnstone said that the deal was not expected to result in any redundancies at either printer, which collectively employ around 80 staff and turn over more than £10m.

"It made sense to have the two businesses but one lot of fixed costs. But the focus of the acquisition is on growth not taking costs out [so] there's definitely room for all the staff," he said.

Johnstone founded GT4 together with chief executive Tom Brown in 2003 before acquiring Gavin Watson in around 2007. CCB is the group's first acquisition since then, although Johnstone said the firm had invested around £3m in the past five years "mostly in the labels business".

While Gavin Watson produces wet glue labels and packaging, CCB produces a range of other packaging print as well as wide-format digital print, including pop-up exhibition stands and banners.

"We do a lot of labels for whisky clients and they don't just need labels, they need boxes, cartons, booklets, neck collars, swing tickets – there's a whole load of value-added marketing material that goes along with it and that's something CCB can give us," said Johnstone.

"It became apparent that we were printing different things but on similar equipment and aside from the whisky industry there's very little crossover in our clients."

He added that the all-share deal had suited all parties, adding: "If we had wanted to buy for cash they would probably have been less enthusiastic as they wanted to be part of this packaging group we are creating."

Brown said that the relocation of CCB to Gavin Watson's site would take around eight weeks and that the company would then look to invest in some additional finishing and wide-format print equipment.

"We're looking to invest in some more specialist finishing equipment for things like lamination and spot UV, which a lot of companies just put out," said Brown. "Our philosophy is to deliver to clients on time in full, so we need to have control over production."

He added that while CCB had roll-to-roll wide-format devices, it didn't have any flatbed printers and that that was probably an area the company would look to invest in, with the combined spend on that and finishing expected to come to around £500,000.

Brown added that both companies were looking to replace an older litho press – in Gavin Watson's case a six-colour Heidelberg CD 74 – and that GT4 would look for a single press to replace both devices, probably towards the end of the year "once we've made sure the specification fits what both companies need".

Following the merger to a single site, the company will go from a 24/5 to a 24/7 operation.


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