A takeover by a global manufacturing group has catapulted large format graphics specialist, Leach, on to the international stage after securing high profile contracts at the Louvre in Paris, Brooklyn Museum and the biggest museum project in the firm’s history in Oman over the last 18 months.
The Huddersfield-based firm, which makes wallpapers, tension fabric graphics, exhibition graphics, and light boxes for retailers including Arcadia Group, Gap and All Saints, as well as the museums and heritage sector, was taken over by the French group, Chargeurs, in April 2018.
The group set Leach the task of doubling in size and reaching sales of £25m in five years, which it plans to do through diversifying into new sectors and growing internationally, particularly in the museums and heritage sector.
The Middle East is a lucrative market for Leach and it is currently working on a £3m contract in Oman, a project called Oman Across The Ages, which is its biggest ever museum development.
However, the US is a key focus for the company under Chargeurs.
Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, James Lavin, who took over as managing director of Leach following the acquisition, said the €500m-plus turnover group had injected a ‘fast-paced dynamism’ into the firm, which employs 100 people.
“We were under family ownership for 120 years and the business did grow aggressively during that time but now it’s gone into a whole new stratosphere,” he said.
“Chargeurs has provided connections that no way would we have had under the previous structure.”
He added: “We’ve got an £11m turnover and we’re expected to more than double in size but the group is backing that up with investment and connections and the ability to achieve that.”
Mr Lavin said the weak pound was helping to drive growth internationally, particularly in the US museums and heritage sector. “We’re going out there and halving the prices of all the competition, which is obviously a massive benefit. But also our experience is valued there too.”
Investments within Leach include a new £500,000 dye-sublimation printer, which makes printing quicker and makes the graphics themselves more durable. It has also spent £100,000 on new software to improve the customer ordering experience and to automate certain tasks.
Meanwhile, the company has patented a new type of light box called the Leach Box, which can be rolled up and put in a tube. “This revolutionises our ability to distribute throughout the world and cheapens the cost,” Mr Lavin said.
The company is also producing graphics on acoustic materials, to manage the reverberation of sound in places with high ceilings and hard floors.
In addition, environmental products are a recent innovation for the company.
“We can offer eco solutions for pretty much all our range,” Mr Lavin said.
Looking ahead, Leach expects the majority of its growth to come from the international museums and heritage sector, although the retail sector is also likely to grow.
Another new industry for the business is construction and property, with the company making building wraps, hoardings and office interiors for clients. Leach also plans to enter the domestic market with light boxes for the home, targeting teenagers who put posters on their wall in particular.
Mr Lavin said: “It’s an exciting time for the business and now we’ve got the backing of a group which has injected some fast-paced dynamis