Venn buys second commercial printer

Darryl Danielli
Monday, December 6, 2021

Venn Holdings, the buy and build commercial print venture founded by Andy Rae and Anthony Thirlby earlier this year, has made its second company acquisition.

Thirlby, left with Rae: We’re looking at creating a nationwide hub and spoke model
Thirlby, left with Rae: We’re looking at creating a nationwide hub and spoke model

The business, which also owns JDP in Whitchurch, has acquired Winchester-based Culverlands Press.

The deal, which was completed on 3 December, brings Venn’s projected 2022 turnover to £10m.

Thirlby said the two businesses had been talking for the past few months, after Culverlands’ managing director Stephen Edwards, who knew Thirlby from his ESP days, approached him and co-founder Rae and floated that he was looking to exit.

Edwards will continue to work with the new owners for the foreseeable future.

Thirlby said the business was on a solid financial footing, which he said was testament to Edwards and his team, and while it was currently trading at £2.1m compared to £3m pre-pandemic “there’s not one pound of debt”.

He said as well its financials, one of the attractions of the deal was proximity, with both JDP and Culverlands based in Hampshire “although another was that they’re in completely different sectors”.

As well as jobbing local and national commercial work, the 16-staff business has contracted local government work and works client-direct for a number of cruise companies.

Like JDP, Culverlands runs a Heidelberg XL 75, in five plus coat configuration, but its digital work will largely be routed through JDP, which runs two B2 HP Indigos, a 100K and 12K.

“We purposely grew the digital capacity [at JDP] so we can offer a hybrid offering at both businesses and Culverlands will continue to be a trading entity in its own right, but its digital capacity will be fulfilled by JDP.”

With the ink barely dry on the Culverlands buy, Thirlby said that two more M&A deals were at offer stage, but prior to those landing he said Venn hoped to acquire a London base of operations in the coming weeks as the business is in the final stages of securing the former factory of Push Print, which closed its doors in the summer.

“It’s very much on the radar that that will conclude before Christmas, so we should have a manufacturing presence in London for the new year," said Thirlby.

As well as the factory, Venn will also take on some of Push’s litho kit, including its five-colour Heidelberg Speedmaster CX 102.

Its Fujifilm Jet Press 720S B2 inkjet was previously removed, so like Culverlands the site’s digital work will be produced by JDP.

While he wouldn’t be drawn on the current acquisition targets, he did add that deals three and four were similar to Culverlands.

“One of the things that we remain keen on as a strategy is to get into unencumbered businesses who are self-financing.

“The next two, which we’re hoping to complete in the next three or four months, are a very similar profile [to Culverlands] although with completely different geographic locations.

“We’re looking at creating a nationwide hub and spoke model,” he said, adding that after deals three and four close, a label firm may well prove to be the next target.

On the Culverlands deal, Venn co-founder Rae added: "This acquisition allows Venn to continue to develop into new market sectors which compliments the growth we have experienced at JDP.

“We believe that with our hybrid production offerings, Culverlands fits perfectly and cements our desire to purchase well-run businesses with the opportunity to grow through exceptional customer service and technology."

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