Apogee’s acquisition of Balreed Digitec Group, a deal 12 months in the making, has created the UK’s largest independent pan-European provider of managed services for print, document and process technology.
Established in 1993 by Jason Collins and Barry Ferdinand, Apogee Corporation has enjoyed sustained, year-on-year growth through a combination of organic growth and strategic acquisitions.
The firm started to purchase complementary businesses in the late 1990s, starting with Flag Copiers, then Crawley-based F Smith, London-based City Business Machines and Accuracy Business Machines, a successful dealership in Westergate, West Sussex. So far, Apogee has completed more than 20 deals.
The Balreed acquisition is its biggest to date. Balreed has an installed MIF of 15,000 and a £45 million run rate, which, when combined with Apogee’s installed UK base of 25,000 devices and a £75 million run rate, creates a business with a £120 million annual turnover. Apogee’s European arm, headquartered in France, adds a further £30 million to the pot, helping Apogee towards its goal of becoming a £200 million business within the next five years.
In line with all previous transactions, Balreed’s business will be wholly merged into Apogee’s operations and will trade under the Apogee brand. Balreed Founder Robin Stanton-Gleaves will join the board as Joint CEO, working alongside Joint CEO Jason Collins. Balreed’s Gary Downey will join the board as Group Marketing Director and Apogee Co-Founder Barry Ferdinand will take on a new Non-Exec Director role.
There are many synergies between the two businesses. Both provide hardware and software from multiple manufacturers, including Ricoh, Canon, Konica Minolta, Kyocera and Xerox, but they will now do so on a much greater scale. This, says Downey, will benefit customers of both organisations.
“There are lots of areas where Apogee will add scale to our existing operations and where we will add value and bring new capabilities to benefit all customers,” he said.
“For example, Balreed is arguably one of the UK’s leading providers of managed services. We have established a reputation for innovation in this field and we have a mature, remote monitoring operation in place. The pro-active managed services we have developed will remain a key focus for the new enlarged Apogee Group and we will further expand that operation to deliver the full experience to every Apogee client. In particular, we will be able to offer clients with pan-European operations, the opportunity to receive the same pro-active remote care and management of their print technology, regardless of where they have a base. And it will all be managed from the UK.”
Another of Balreed’s strengths, explains Downey, is its dedicated production print unit. “Apogee has enjoyed some success within this sector, but it isn’t a key area of focus. We have a dedicated team that spans pre-sales, sales, remote monitoring and service, with specialist expertise in digital production presses and in-depth knowledge of clients in this space,” he said.
Downey adds that Balreed’s expertise in these areas will help Apogee to sustain its growth in the UK and Europe. “It’s about taking on the best elements from both businesses, leveraging the synergies and best-of-breed to meet future growth plans,” he said.
He expects much of the future growth to come from Europe. Apogee has a total of eight offices in France, a German operation and a presence in a further six countries. “We now have a real opportunity to build on what’s already in place, to extend our service to customers looking for a single provider to roll out and manage their print and document management infrastructure Europe-wide. It’s an exciting proposition; we will be the fist truly independent provider to offer that,” he said.
There are a number of merger details still to be finalised, not least what will happen to the companies’ combined portfolio of 19 UK offices, but for now, says Downey, the focus is very much on business as usual.
“It’s likely that there will be some consolidation – there will inevitably be some areas of duplication and some of the physical offices will close as a result of the acquisition. However, the plan is very much to build the business up rather than scale it down, so we don’t expect too much to change in the short-term,” he said.
“We will carry on exactly as we’ve always done, providing clients with the exact same service levels. But we’re now in a great position to up the ante, targeting a whole new client base of organisations that are looking for more capacity and coverage. It’s our default to grow.”