Hague acquires Solchar

By Max Goldbart, Monday 27 March 2017

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Print management firm Hague Print has resumed its stroll on the M&A path with its first 2017 acquisition.

hague-solchar

Wain (middle right) with Axelson (far left), Long (far right) and the rest of the Solchar team

The Yorkshire-based group officially acquired cheque scanning and processing software company Solchar on 17 March for an undisclosed fee, after a negotiation period that began last summer and was agreed informally in December 2016. 

The acquisition completes in line with a new industry-wide image-based cheque clearing system, the Future Clearing model, which was announced this week.

Hague director Nathan Wain said Solchar’s expertise in cheque payments and document imaging software would be a great asset to Hague when the Future Clearing model comes into force in October 2017.

“With the Future Clearing Model announced in the UK we thought there was a great market and this gives us a unique presence in that we can actually produce the cheques, personalise the cheques and now process the cheques,” said Wain.

The new system will reduce cheque clearing time to one working day, as the image of the cheque becomes the equivalent of the paper version so that the paper version no longer needs to be checked. Solchar’s software is capable of processing these cheque images.

Solchar co-founder Terry Long was looking to sell around 18 months ago but shelved the plans, before last summer a contact of Wain’s in corporate finance alerted him to the possibility of the deal. 

Long is set to go into semi-retirement but continue acting as a consultant to the five-strong outfit, with its other co-founder Peter Axelson staying on as managing director, but with no equity.

Wain added: “Solchar is regarded as a market leader in this segment. We do a lot in Africa and I think there is great potential for our product over there.”

Solchar will retain its name and stay in its Theale, West Berkshire premises, where it has resided since it was founded in 2003, but it has adapted its logo in line with Hague’s. It is looking to recruit three new staff, including a full-time replacement for Long.

The acquisition is Hague’s second software buy in the past six months, having bought Wokingham-based Eurorealm, which specialises in cheque-writing software, in December.

It made three other acquisitions last year, Leicestershire-based Custom Forms in October, Australian security specialist Foremost in the summer and Staffordshire-based SR Print Management (SRPM) in January.

The Normanton-headquartered group now has group sales of more than £20m, and is aiming for around £25m by the end of this year. With the Solchar staff included it now employs around 80.

Wain said it plans to continue on the M&A trail, with a number of discussions currently taking place.

“We’ve got some great organic growth but it’s always nice to have a few bolt-ons,” he added.   

Hague Print was formed in 1980 and now exports to more than 50 countries. Clients include universities, banks, government agencies, retailers and event and leisure organisations. 

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