Former CEO Alexander buys Garnett Dickinson

By Darryl Danielli, Friday 13 March 2015

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Nick Alexander has bought Garnett Dickinson Group, with the exception of its digital operation, returning to the business he left two years ago.

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Alexander: It’s a great business and it produces some great products

Family-owned Garnett Dickinson Group was bought by Wagner Investments, one of Alexander’s companies, for an undisclosed sum and the acquisition is understood to include Garnett Dickinson Print, Garnett Dickinson Publishing and GD Direct Solutions.

GD Digital is expected to be subject to an MBO to be led by chief executive Joel Dickinson.


Staff were informed on Monday of the group’s sale to Alexander and the deal formally completed on Wednesday (11 March).

“It’s a great business, it produces some great products and I’m really excited about it,” said Alexander.

“The opportunity came about very recently, it was a very short process, the family decided that they didn’t want to be involved with the business anymore and were looking at options.”

In its latest accounts to September 2013, Garnett Dickinson Holdings posted a pre-tax loss of £873,000 on sales of £31m.

Alexander was chief executive at the Rotherham-based group until he left in March 2013 after leading an MBO at the group’s Acorn Web Offset business.

In the intervening two years Alexander has also worked with a number of other businesses, largely private equity-owned, to assist in turnaround projects.

This included time as chief executive of North Wales-based packaging company Excelsior Technologies, which was sold to a fund of PE house Endless in December.

Following its successful sale and a handover period, Alexander stepped down as Excelsior’s chief executive in February.

Alexander also owns Atkinson Walker Saws, a Sheffield-based engineering business.

While he has worked in a number of private equity-based projects, the purchase of Garnett Dickinson was not backed by private equity money.

According to Alexander, Garnett Dickinson and Acorn will be run as separate, albeit complementary, businesses with their own management structures.

“They’re the same in that they’re both web offset businesses, but they operate in very different markets,” he added.

“While I’ve not been involved in the [Garnett Dickinson] business in any way for two years I know it very well, of course. In my view it produces some of the highest quality print in the UK and I’m yet to see anyone that can produce better, and it’s got great staff and customers.

“There is a turnaround job to do insofar as refocusing and that sort of thing, but this was a solvent acquisition of a good business. It is a tough market, but you can be successful in a tough market. But you need to be specialist, focused and you need to let the people in charge of the business run the business.”

In terms of management changes at Garnett Dickinson, Alexander said it was "too early to tell”.

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