DataLase bought by MBO team

Darryl Danielli
Friday, September 18, 2020

UK inkless coding and marking specialist DataLase has been bought by an MBO team as it looks to take the next step in the commercialisation of its innovative technology.

Grant, Lewis and Dustain (L-R): setting sights on profitability
Grant, Lewis and Dustain (L-R): setting sights on profitability

The MBO, which was led by the 34-staff Widnes, Cheshire firm’s COO and CFO, Clare Lewis, CSMO Paul Dustain and CTO Ally Grant completed on Tuesday (15 September).

The deal followed former owner, Japan-headquartered ID systems manufacturer Sato, making a strategic shift to focus on its core auto-ID solutions business.

Sato acquired the business in 2016.

Lewis, who becomes CEO of the rebranded DataLase said the MBO would enable the business to become more agile and dynamic and her focus for the first 100 days was to “stabilise, energise the team and build on what we have”.

“We have a strong belief in the team, technology and the business with what it can bring to the world in terms of sustainability, connected packaging and other initiatives,” she added.

The firm’s patented photonic technology works by using a two-step printing process where a conventional printing process lays down a patch of laser reactive coating on to a substrate, and then at the final stage before distribution a laser activates the coating to “print” variable data or graphics which can be mono or coloured.

The business has secured partnerships with a number of print manufacturers. Despite this DataLase is yet to record its first profits, and according to its latest accounts to 31 March 2019 it recorded a pre-tax loss of £5.2m on sales of £2.9m.

However, according to Lewis the MBO, which was not funded through debt, and has been structured in such a way as to enable the business to continue on its path to full commercialisation.

“There are sufficient funds available in the business and its facilities. We have grown the team and expanded our facilities and capability,” she added.

“Yes, we are currently loss making, but we have enough capital to keep us going until we become profitable.”

Lewis said that despite the impact of Covid-19 delaying several projects and new product launches, the firm had achieved a record two sales months since lockdown.

“Through strong partnerships, market leading expertise and the support of a great team, we believe that we are in a prime position to extend our reach and achieve further commercial success going forward.”

Earlier this month DataLase announced a non-exclusive distribution deal with laser marking systems manufacturer Macsa ID, which enabled to the latter to add DataLase’s patented laser-reactive colour change pigment technology to is portfolio.

Advisory assistance on the MBO was provided by Mazars and legal advice by UK law firm Shoosmiths.

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