Opus Trust hits M&A trail again

Darryl Danielli
Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Opus Trust Communications has taken another step in delivering its ambitious growth plan and acquired customer communication management (CCM) specialist DocCentrics.

Strong hopes to complete more acquisitions
Strong hopes to complete more acquisitions

The deal for the circa 20-staff, £3m-turnover business completed last Friday (21 August). The terms were not disclosed.

Opus Trust CEO Tony Strong said the two firms had been working together for a number of years, with the business supplying hybrid mail printing to DocCentrics.

“So we understood their business well and they had a really strong proposition on their CCM platform. We’ve got a lot of capabilities in that space too, but we’re looking to be as strong there as we are in the traditional print space,” said Strong.

“Because you have got to be offering clients both nowadays.”

Strong said that the acquisition was to support the business’s ambition to be “at the top of the mid-tier table” in the communications space with sales of around £100m plus.

“To do that organically would take a hell of a long time, so while we’re working on a new business through our sales teams, as we saw through the acquisition of Critiqom, you can get significant revenue into the business by effectively buying the customer base and then driving through the synergies through the back of that.”

However, he stressed that any growth, whether organic or through M&A, had to be sustainable from a group perspective and not just about chasing turnover.

Strong said that as a result of the core of the group’s work being in the transactional rather than DM space, it had been fortunate to have ridden out lockdown relatively unscathed, which gave him the confidence to complete the DocCentrics deal.

“And even if, god forbid, there’s a second wave, you’ve got to push on, you can’t stand still. The discussions were in flight and it’s a good deal for us, and gives us a broader platform from a digital perspective.”

As well as various consultancy services, DocCentrics offers a wide range of data-driven customer communication management services, from multichannel CCM platform CommsBuilder, for creating campaigns across print, email, web and SMS among others, hybrid mail platform CommsSender and its digital transformation platform DigiComms.
Clients include Brightside Insurance Services, NHS, Woodland Trust and a number of blue-chip financial services brands.

The business was founded by in 2008 by managing director Simon Howell.

Following the deal, while DocCentrics will retain its own branding and Stevenage HQ, Opus Trust will roll the DocCentrics digital customer experience (CX) technology platform into its own OpusCX offering boosting its own digital offering.

While Opus Trust made the initial approach to DocCentrics, Strong said one of the key drivers of the deal were growth opportunities for DocCentrics through being part of a larger group with significant financial firepower, which boosted its credibility with large client organisations.

This was echoed by DocCentrics’ Howell, who joins the Opus Trust board in the newly created role of digital strategy director.

“As a result of us joining Opus Trust and pooling our resources, we will significantly broaden our service capability, this will allow us to improve customer experience throughout our client’s customer communications - with digitisation and process automation leading the shared proposition,” he said.

“We are very much looking forward to continuing our innovative work as part of the Opus Trust Communications family.”

The DocCentrics deal is the second time Opus Trust has hit the M&A trail in under a year, following last December’s acquisition of Glasgow-based £16m-turnover print and mailing business Critiqom.

Strong said he hoped to hit the M&A trail again in the not too distant future, not least because the now circa £44m-turnover group had been poised to acquire another business “in a more traditional” space just prior to the pandemic, but both parties had pressed pause for the moment.

“We’re active and we’ll continue to look in the market where there are close synergies with what we’re trying to do and a benefit for both organisations, that has to be the key. It has to be a two-way street.”

The DocCentrics deal follows Opus Trust becoming the first UK company to sign up to Quadient’s ‘Digital Now’ networking programme, which brings together skills and expertise from Quadient’s own experts combined with best practice and case studies from its worldwide customer base. DocCentrics also uses Quadient technology.

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