Sunset industry? That’s not what I found when I took the plunge into the print finishing and packaging sector
I will admit that friends and family had their doubts, when I told them I had plans to invest in the £6.5million buyout of ACA Print Finishing and Packaging solutions. They thought, as many do, that print was one of a number of sunset industries, like coal or print newspapers: they were going to be swept away by the rising tide of technology.
Then I met Joe Keenan, a veteran of the print trade, and he opened my eyes to the opportunities in the sector. Joe had worked at ACA, and knew it was a business that had great potential for growth: ACA has a skilled workforce devoted to exceptional quality. Acquiring it was the kind of opportunity investors jump at, provided proven demand for its products and services is there.
Before taking the plunge, I needed to be sure that print was a market with the capacity to match our ambitions. I quickly found that the UK is the fifth largest printing country in the world, and that printing is the second largest adder of value, after pharmaceuticals, with 48% gross value added (GVA). As to the packaging sector, it represents 3% of the UK’s manufacturing industry.
And, according to the Scottish Government’s figures released in August of this year, GVA per employee has been increasing steadily from £36,809 in 2008 to £43,646 in 2015, an increase of 18.6% over the eight year period. The packaging industry, too, boasts a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.07%. I have invested in a number of different industries over the years, and I would be hard pressed to find one that adds such value, and continues to add value at that rate.
Equally, the global packaging industry is set to reach $975 billion by next year, and we are eager to develop further the growing packaging side of our business, and to help Scotland’s flagship industries, not least whisky, display their wares at their very best.
ACA presently has an annual turnover of £4.7 million, and our 83 employees supply expert finishing to over 200 printing businesses in Scotland and Northern Ireland. But, we know that we have the capacity to grow turnover to £8m.We are the largest finishing company in Scotland and handle overspill for a significant section of Scotland’s 400 – 600 printers.
So, what do I bring to the table? I am an entrepreneur who has made a number of successful deals and investments including Killermont Motor Company, CMK Investments, and a chain of estate agents, the Caledonian Bureau and a large commercial property portfolio via Raphaelson Holdings limited. Joe likes to call me a boardroom expert, and I think our complimentary skillset with my financial skills and his hands-on technical skills makes a great team.
Since buying ACA in November 2016, with the support of RBS, we’ve had external auditors visit our Inchinnan premises, just on the periphery of Glasgow International Airport, and we’re now working towards full accreditation in ISO 9001 & 14001, Health and Safety, and also accreditation by the British Retail Consortium.
We have re-introduced ourselves to customers, old and new, and embarked on a series of training course on customer service, with the help of both Scottish Enterprise and our trade body, Print Scotland.
Print Scotland, of which we are now a member, has been of great assistance in offering advice and helping us steer a path through what, with the steady advance of digital, sometimes looks like an entirely new industry. I am looking forward too, to taking a greater part in the print and packaging community throughout the UK.
ACA Print Finishing and Packaging Solutions Ltd.