Papergraphics acquires CWE Solutions in friendly merger

By Sarah Cosgrove, Wednesday 06 January 2016

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Wide-format hardware and media supplier Papergraphics has joined forces with "friendly competitor" CWE Solutions in what the two companies have called a "merger by acquisition".


Crawley, West Sussex-based Papergraphics and Papergraphics companies in Spain, Belgium and Holland sit under holding company Pure Genius Holdings, which has acquired CWE Solutions. Pure Genius is privately owned by Papergraphics chief executive John Selby and managing director Nathan Atkins, who refer to it as The Papergraphics Group. It reported a turnover of £19m in the 2014 calendar year.

Chessington, Surrey-based CWE Solutions turned over £14.1m in the same period and was privately owned by managing director Doug Gilbertson.

Gilbertson has joined Selby and Atkins on the Papergraphics board as director of print solutions.

Papergraphics and CWE will continue to operate as separate entities in their current locations for the time being, but will be gradually merged in the future.

The deal, which has been several months in development, was completed on Christmas Eve.

Selby and Gilbertson told PrintWeek that it was something they had discussed several times over the past seven years, with deals nearly happening in 2002 and 2009.

But it was the demise of most of Paperlinx UK in April last year and Papergraphics’ subsequent move into hardware sales by hiring six members of Paperlinx’s digital solutions team that prompted a fresh and ultimately successful round of negotiations.

“We’ve known each other for 15 years and we’ve talked before about joining forces but we didn’t feel it was right,” Selby said. “After we took on the Paperlinx people and we got into hardware sales it just seemed right to do a deal.”

Last year Papergraphics secured sales agreements with Jetrix, Canon, CWT Worktools and HP. HP sales were limited to the Latex 300 series, however, while CWE sold HP Designjet and Scitex printers as well. According to CWE, which was founded in 1999, it is one of HP’s largest resellers in Europe.

“CWE is one of the top resellers in the country,” Selby added. “We are getting top sales people and Doug on the board. He’s a great guy. We just see it as a great mix of people.”

Selby said Papergraphics will benefit from CWE Solutions’ extensive coverage in the south of England, while CWE’s operations will gain from Papergraphics’ Scottish, northern English and European presence.

Papergraphics, in operation since 1984 (Pure Genius Holdings was established in 2008) also makes products, including laminates, roll-up, pop-up and wall covering materials, which it previously supplied to CWE.

Gilbertson said: “Papergraphics has gone from strength to strength and so have we. In our own ways we're doing very nicely thank you. Considering the market opportunities, the sum of the two companies will be greater than we would be apart and we will move forward at a faster rate. It’s going to be a very exciting next few years.”

Selby said the company plans to launch a “unique hardware product which is unseen in Europe”, and had seveal more product launches in the pipeline.

“We’re looking at expanding into new markets. It’s a very exciting time, it’s going to be great for the industry,” he said.

Papergraphics now has around 120 staff with 20 joining from CWE Solutions. Around 90 are based in the UK.

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