Circle Media sells CPI Group to private investor

By Jo Francis, Tuesday 09 April 2019

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Book and commercial print group CPI Group has been sold for the second time in the space of a year, with Circle Media Group selling the business to a private investor after less than nine months of ownership.

cpi-books-factory

CPI Group prints more than 450m books a year

CPI has operations across five European countries, including a substantial presence in the UK where it has sales of £120.5m and employs more than 1,000 staff.

Circle Media acquired CPI Group in July 2018. The overall group had sales of around €360m (£311m) at the time.

Staff were informed today that the continental web and gravure printing group had sold CPI to the Private Wealth Office of investor Richard Hughes and family (RHWO). Hughes is also the founder of corporate finance house Zeus Capital.

The terms of the private transaction were not disclosed. Pierre-François Catté continues in his role as executive director of CPI.

In a statement, Circle Media Group said it had decided to sell its interest in CPI “to a strong financial owner to facilitate CPI’s growth and expansion”.

Chairman and chief executive Peter Andreou, who had originally described the CPI acquisition as a “transformational” deal for the group, said that CPI needed separate focus and support in order to “develop its core strengths”, and that RHWO would be an excellent partner for the business.

“One of the main reasons for our acquisition of CPI was their range of digital capabilities and supply chain solutions. Over the past year, however, we have acknowledged that CPI and our commercial printing businesses progress at different paces,” Andreou stated.

“In order to keep its lead, CPI needs separate focus and support to further develop its core strengths.”

RHWO chairman Simon Ashton said: “Our wealth-management fund understands that CPI needs a nimble structure and strong financial position to keep its lead in the books market. We see what CPI has built over the years and believe this is an excellent building block to further growth, both in Europe and beyond.”

He said RHWO would support CPI’s growth ambitions.

CPI’s UK operations include CPI Books in Chatham and Croydon, CPI Antony Rowe in Eastbourne, Melksham and Chippenham, CPI William Clowes in Suffolk, and commercial printer CPI Colour, also in Croydon.

The overall group has been a big investor in HP's high-speed inkjet web presses, while the UK business most recently invested in a Fujifilm Jet Press 720S sheetfed inkjet press, and a Canon Océ Colorstream Chroma line

Clients includes HarperCollins and Faber & Faber.

The statement also said that the sale, which sees Circle Media exit the UK printing industry, had been approved by the European works council and some local works councils.

Circle Media’s Helio Charleroi gravure site in Belgium abruptly filed for bankruptcy in January, and the group subsequently found itself under fire from union members at its continental plants.

Last month the group sold its Helprint gravure business in Finland to Printers Group, describing it as "not a geographically core region". 

However, Andreou said the business intended to “continue with its consolidation of the European commercial printing industry”.

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