Hobs Reprographics attracts £7m BGF investment

By Simon Nias, Tuesday 23 December 2014

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Hobs Reprographics has become the latest print business to attract funding from the Business Growth Fund (BGF).

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A 3D printed model of the Noma neighbourhood project in Hobs' Manchester studio

Hobs has received a £7m investment from the BGF to fund the national roll-out of its Hobs Studio business, which offers 3D printing and animation, augmented and virtual reality and CGI services to architectural, engineering, construction and product designers.

The £30m-turnover print and reprographics business launched its first Hobs Studio in Manchester in December 2013 with a £250,000 investment after working as a support partner to the construction team responsible for building the new Wembley Stadium.

Hobs provided all the 3D printing and drawing management services on the project and managed the daily flow of documentation during the build, which was completed in 2007.

A second Hobs Studio was opened in Clerkenwell, London in May 2014 and the company now plans to develop new facilities across the UK to provide a national 3D printing and scanning service.

Hobs founder and chief executive Kieran O'Brien, who remains a majority shareholder in the business, said: "Our first Hobs Studios have been highly valued by our customers and we now want to replicate this model across the country. Equipping the studios is capital intensive and so it made absolute sense for us to find a long-term equity partner that could help us achieve this.

"BGF has invested in us on the basis that what we do works. The great news is that the partnership allows us to pursue new and exciting opportunities with additional resource and confidence."

Neil Inskip, senior investment manager at the BGF, added: "It is testament to the strength of the business model and management team that Hobs has consistently been at the forefront of technological change within the printing industry, which has allowed it to take advantage of opportunities in the market. We are delighted to be supporting the business as it continues to retain and build a loyal customer base."

Previous BGF investments in the print industry include a £10m investment in York Mailing in July 2013 and a £3.2m investment in Thames Card Technology in January 2014.

Paul Jones, partner at Clearwater International, which advised Hobs on the investment, said: "The investment from BGF reflects the fast-changing world of digital and print support services and marks the next exciting stage in Hobs' development. The business can now build upon its position at the technological forefront of digital and print services.

"The funding will enable Hobs to roll out its state-of-the-art 3D printing studios across the UK, as well as consolidating its position as provider of services to both leading public and private organisations and the legal sector."

Hobs Reprographics is headquartered in Liverpool and employs more than 300 people in 29 offices across the UK.

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