Two print bosses have joined forces to buy a personalised passes and ID and membership card manufacturer and leverage their combined expertise to grow the business.
The deal for Chatham, Kent-based Plastic Data Card completed last month. The business was bought by Andrew Roblett, one of the founders of lenticular print specialist Lentico, and Robin Sumner, managing director of direct mail and transactional specialist Romax.
Lentico also does large-format fine art and display graphics lenticular print and recently launched a new website.
The two have known each for several years, after collaborating on a personalised lenticular project for Ticketmaster, and last December Sumner became a director of Lentico after Roblett’s co-founder Martin Ball exited.
“Lentico had been going for some time, but we needed a new home for it and we had been talking to and working with Plastic Data Card for some time. We knew it was a great little business with a great team and that the directors were looking to retire. Then Covid came along and they said they definitely wanted to retire and, cut a long story short, we bought it,” said Sumner.
“It fits very well with what we needed for Lentico, and what Plastic Data Card needed from us, there’s a lot of cross-fertilisation opportunities for both businesses.
“Plastic Data Card also has the production facility and expertise and Lentico has the lenticular knowledge.”
While the firms are already established in their respective B2B markets, Sumner said that one of the new areas they were looking at is B2C web-to-print lenticular gifts, combining the expertise of both businesses, along with the data handling expertise from his other business, Romax.
“We’re not looking to compete with the likes of Photobox, but these are the kind of areas we see new opportunities,” said Sumner. “There are lots of other areas we’re looking at too, but I don’t want to disclose all of them just yet.”
To support their growth plan, the new owners have moved quickly to invest in the combined businesses, launching a circa-£100,000 12-month investment plan, the central plank of which is a new Mimaki flatbed wide-format.
The firms’ £60,000-plus Mimaki JFX 251EX from reseller Josero was installed last week.
The 1,200dpi, 2.5x1.3m flatbed is configured with 2.5D for textured printing and white ink printing capabilities, which enable direct printing onto lenticular lenses.
“I have to say, and I’ve been in print a long time, but the Mimaki output is amazing, the definition. The lenticular print we’re getting off it now is about twice the quality of what we were getting off the old machine.”
The flatbed joins a raft of Plastic Data Card’s kit at their shared facility, which includes and HP Indigo 5600, Oasys Technologies card manufacturing kit, laminators and die-cutters.
Other investments are likely to be in the MIS and W2P portal areas, with a focus on automation.
With Lentico moving into Plastic Data Card’s Chatham factory, the new owners are also in the process of completing refresh of the unit.
While Roblett will be based at the Chatham businesses, Sumner will split his time between there and his main business, 25-staff direct mail and transactional print specialist Romax in Greenwich.
“I’m very lucky that Romax is set up in such a way that it almost runs itself thanks the great management team there.
“It continues to do well, and if it hadn’t been for Covid it would have been doing really well, probably our best year ever. But I’m really pleased with how it’s doing and we’re very lucky that we have a diversified client base.”