The DS Group expands board with three new appointments

Richard Stuart-Turner
Monday, November 23, 2020

Print, direct mail and publishing business The DS Group has expanded its board to five with three new additions.

Clockwise from top left: Hunter, Corke, Deeks and Norton-Mead
Clockwise from top left: Hunter, Corke, Deeks and Norton-Mead

Tracy Norton-Mead, Clara Deeks and Chris Corke joined the Clacton-on-Sea, Essex-based firm’s board on 13 November.

Operations director Norton-Mead has worked for the company for 12 years while commercial director Deeks has been with the company for just over a year. Corke previously freelanced for the business but has now been brought in on a permanent basis as finance director.

Managing director Allistair Hunter said that as the business continues to be asked to pitch for “bigger and bigger contracts”, the strengthened board would help with contingency planning and ensure support and confidence for its suppliers, customers and staff.

The group, which turns over more than £3m and employs 20 staff, started the process of being an employee trust owned group two years ago, and this will continue as Hunter sells more of his shares over time. He told Printweek this move has seen the company go from strength to strength.

“The staff all understand what’s needed to move the business forward, which is one of the reasons I’ve put these people on the board. The employees should have a direct say in how the business is focused going forward.

“My family is currently the biggest shareholder, but it won’t be like that forever and over time I want them to get more emotionally involved and help drive the busines forward.”

The DS Group has continued to invest, taking on new Canon and Konica Minolta printers six months ago to join existing kit from manufacturers including HP and Norpak.

Hunter said the development of the group’s contract publishing side has also started to pay dividends, with a number of significant contract wins since March, both for consumer and B2B magazines.

“Coronavirus has had an effect, as it has on everybody, but it could have been a lot worse,” said Hunter.

“When I did my forecasts at the end of March for the next six months, they were pretty horrific. But actually, it’s turned out a lot better than I could have ever hoped for and that’s because of the staff as a whole.

“[The move towards employee ownership] has really been the best thing the company could have done.”

Operating from 1,400sqm premises, The DS Group serves a wide range of customers from one-man bands through to blue-chip clients.

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