Acquisitive couple buys second print firm

By Rhys Handley, Wednesday 20 February 2019

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Richard and Julie Bennett have acquired Atkinson Print as the second step in the buy-and-build of their own print group after the couple bought Newcastle Print Solutions (NPS) last summer.

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Julie (centre) and Richard (right) Bennett with staff from Clive Owen (Image: Clive Owen)

The sale was completed on 18 January and saw all shares in Hartlepool-based Atkinson transfer over to the Bennetts from owner and managing director Adrian Liddell, whose father had in turn bought the 80-year-old company around 40 years ago.

All five members of the litho operation’s team will remain onboard in the transfer and Liddell is assisting with handover. As landlord of the building Atkinson resides in, Liddell will continue to have a presence in the business after he officially steps aside.

Having formerly owned Gateshead FC and with a history in environmental chemistry, the Bennetts moved into the print sector with the purchase of NPS last August. The couple now intend to continue their acquisitive spree to expand and enhance their print group.

“This deal has been in the offing for about four months, with discussions starting not long after we locked down NPS,” said Richard Bennett. “Atkinson is a lovely little business with a great roster of local clients that made it a really attractive proposition for us.

“From the outset, we knew we were putting together a buy-and-build strategy and when first putting feelers out we did not know we would move into the print sector, but we loved everything about NPS and that started everything.”

Chartered accountancy firm Clive Owen assisted in the Atkinson deal.

As part of their investment strategy, the Bennetts have invested in a new Xerox Iridesse that has now arrived at NPS with the further prospect of adding digital capabilities to newly-acquired Atkinson’s Heidelberg-centric litho output now on the cards.

Richard Bennett added: “We are new to the industry, but I feel like we are picking things up quickly. It is remarkably similar to my previous work in environmental chemistry in terms of the process and how jobs are handled.

“Existing customers can look forward to investment in the latest technology for both businesses. We are very much open for business, looking to grow and also to support the long-standing relationships both NPS and Atkinson have with their clients.”

NPS now comprises 17 members of staff, giving the full group a 22-strong headcount. Both firms turn over just more than £1m.

Individual branding is set to be maintained initially, though the Bennetts are in the process of registering a to-be-announced group name. Which acquisitions maintain their own identity and which are absorbed into the new brand will be decided on a case-by-case basis considering size, history and esteem within the community, according to Richard Bennett.

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