Complete buys Flow for full-service operation

Complete Colour has acquired fellow Melbourne firm Flow Printing in a deal that will see the radically different businesses create a full-service operation.

Director Geoff Lawyer says the companies have only two clients in common, giving Complete the potential to double sales from cross-selling, and immediately boosts turnover by a third.

“I’m chomping at the bit with excitement, we are polar opposite businesses so we will be able to provide our clients with more than they have ever had before,” he says.

Complete Colour is focused on longer run offset and digital with its Heidelberg Speedmaster 10-colour press and Fuji Xerox iGen 150 digital printer, while Flow specialises in boutique short run packaging and direct mail with a HP Indigo and Heidelberg CD UV offset press.

“The Indigo and UV machines are great pickups and will add a whole lot to our business, giving us the whole gamut of machines,” Lawyers says.

“Sometimes clients prefer jobs to be printed on an Indigo or an iGen so we can’t do the work, but now we have complete capability across all printing operations.”

[Related: More mergers and acquisitions]

Complete managing director Tim Michaelides says the combined offering will allow the company to provide entire campaign packages.

“The rapid growth of online marketing over the past decade has, paradoxically, created a new niche opportunity for brands and businesses to get noticed using traditional print products combined with electronic media as part of their marketing communications mix,” he says.

Flow will move into Complete’s 3500sqm factory in Cheltenham with 12 of its 14 staff coming along, taking Complete’s headcount to about 50. The other two staff were made redundant.

Fourth-generation Flow director Ryan Carter, who will serve as sales director in the combined business, says the deal is two years in the making.

“We started informally discussing joining forces in 2013 when we bought a second-hand machine from complete, and we have got to know each other well since then,” he says.

“The businesses have complementary strengths and there was a good opportunity to share services and reduce costs in a competitive market, making us both stronger.

“Joining together will make us stronger and be able to compete better. There is huge potential for growth and we can feed off each other’s expertise.”

Lawyer says industry consolidation is necessary in today’s print market and Complete is keen to acquire more businesses if the right opportunity comes up.

“We have plenty of space for more people and equipment if the right business becomes available,” he says.

“Our last acquisition was in 2008 and I think we learned a lot from the integration process. We have wanted to do more, but you have to wait for a good fit and this is perfect.”

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