The Print Centre Group acquires Semaphore Display

By Richard Stuart-Turner, Tuesday 10 July 2018

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The Print Centre Group has expanded its sign and display offering after acquiring Semaphore Display.

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Williams (R) with Marshall: "The acquisition will enable us to offer a far better signage and large-format service"

The purchase of Semaphore, which was completed last Tuesday (3 July), is the 10-staff Cardiff-based company's first acquisition.

The deal came about when The Print Centre Group director Mark Williams approached Semaphore founder and managing director John Marshall after learning that he was looking to retire.

“We found out about this through a third party at the back end of last year and have been negotiating it since December,” said Williams.

“John is going to be with us for a minimum of three months but probably six months to a year. He’s happy to stay on and help us with the transition of the client base.”

A digital print specialist running Konica Minolta bizhubs, Epson fine art printers and various finishing kit including in-house foiling, The Print Centre Group was established 16 years ago and operates from multiple leased sites across Cardiff – a 232sqm Windsor Place city centre base and two 93sqm units at Cardiff University. It also has another 75sqm outlet in Porthcawl.

Last year the business purchased a factory in Cardiff Bay and it has more recently bought a second factory at the same site. The two units will total around 510sqm space when building works are finished.

“We bought the first factory unit last year, with a view to going into the signage business, because we were being asked by our current customers if we could do signage and large-format but we never really had the space or equipment,” said Williams.

“So we bought a Roland DG printer and laminators and took on a fitting team. Then this acquisition came out of the blue and we decided to pursue it, so we’ve now got a ready-made business with 33 years’ trading history behind it.

“The acquisition will enable us to offer a far better signage and large-format service and will also allow us to sell our digital facilities to their existing clients as well.”

Semaphore operates a raft of Mimaki large-format kit, including a printer, a printer-cutter and a direct-to-substrate flatbed device.

The business will continue to trade under its own name and its eight staff will all relocate around four miles across from its current site in the Grangetown area of the city to the new Cardiff Bay factory in the next few months. Marshall will retain Semaphore’s current building, which he owns.

“We will refresh the brand slightly but we’re going to keep the brand name, the business and the ethos exactly as it is,” said Williams.

The combined 18-staff entity is targeting turnover next year of between £1.5m to £2m.

The Print Centre Group serves customers including students, councils, local authorities and blue-chip companies. Around a month ago it received the Family Business of the Year award at the Cardiff Business Awards.

Williams, who runs the business with his wife Alison – with their son Christian also working for the company – said: “We were very pleased to win that award – it can only enhance the business and tell people what we’re about.”

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