Pensord expands with west coast buy

Jo Francis
Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Pensord is expanding significantly with the acquisition of fellow Welsh print firm Cambrian Printers.

Pensord is based in Pontllanfraith in south Wales and specialises in publication printing, while Cambrian is located in Aberystwyth on the west coast of the country and focuses on short-run high quality catalogues and brochures. It also produces books, journals and magazines.

Pensord managing director Darren Coxon said the deal, which is effective immediately, came about after the two firms were introduced by finance specialists who thought there could be good synergies between the operations. He said the acquisition would take Pensord into new areas and expanded its digital offering, and the team “jumped at the chance”.

“Cambrian has a good reputation and produces high quality work. The order book is full, our intention is to focus on what it is good at and do more of that,” Coxon said.

Pensord’s holding company has acquired the entire share capital of Cambrian from its family owners: Robert and Tim Read, who are retiring. Chairman Robert Read was the fourth generation of the family to run the business, which began life in 1860 as a local newspaper publisher. The Read family took over in 1927. Tim Read will stay on for a three-month handover period relating to his commercial role at the company.

“Robert and Tim have been terrific to deal with, and we wish them well in their retirement, safe in the knowledge that the business is in stable ownership, and being looked after as part of the Pensord family,” Coxon said. 

Pensord has turnover of circa £12m, runs 24/7 and employs 150 staff, while Cambrian Printers posted sales of £7.1m last year and has around 50 employees.

The Aberystwyth firm saw losses more than double to £315k in 2016 after what was described as a “particularly challenging year”. It said it had taken actions to “reap considerable improvement” in the company’s financial performance, and this was bearing fruit in the first four months of 2017.

"We believe it can return to profit within a sensible period of time, and with the skillset of the people here and the untapped opportunity the business can be successful on this site," Coxon added. "It also gives us significant capacity to grow, for example in perfect binding."

Pensord is an all-Heidelberg house and runs three B1 Speedmasters: two eight-colours and a ten-colour, alongside associated magazine finishing and mailing kit. It also has a digital wing for producing short-run work. Cambrian runs a KBA Rapida 106 ten-colour perfector as well as a four-colour Heidelberg Speedmaster XL105 with coater. It has HP Indigo and Konica Minolta digital printing kit and a comprehensive finishing setup.   

Coxon said he and operations director Karl Gater would be spending a proportion of their time in Aberystwyth from now on, and that two of Pensord’s senior managers had been promoted as a result of the expansion. Manufacturing manager Gareth Williams and commercial manager Louise Williams have become directors of Pensord and will take on additional responsibilities in Blackwood.

The Cambrian name will continue for the immediate future, and Pensord has committed to maintaining the workforce in Aberystwyth.

The terms of the deal, which did not require external funding, were not disclosed. The Reads have retained ownership of the Cambrian factory and have agreed a lease deal with the new owners. Pensord was advised by Capital Law, with financial due diligence by Green & Co and corporate finance support from Lexington Corporate Advisers.

Coxon and Gater took over Pensord in an MBO in the summer of 2010.  

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