First acquisition for ARC opens new markets

Workwear, PPE, and personalized clothing specialist ARC Workwear & PPE has finished integrating screen-printed leisurewear business Merch Stall, which it acquired in March, into its business to expand its reach into new markets.

Merch Stall, which was based in Keighley and serves the music and designer brand sector, was acquired alongside its designer brand As Thieves six months ago in what was the first ever acquisition for Sherburn-in-Elmet, West Yorkshire-based ARC.

It has enabled ARC to access “new and very specialist markets”, and add screen printing to its existing embroidery and heat transfer capabilities.

Merch Stall started to move across to ARC’s premises in June and the move and new setup was completed at the end of July, with no disruption to customers.

Anthony Chapman, managing director of ARC, told printweek that the period since the deal was completed had been “manic” for the company.

“We have concentrated on transferring the business and all of the machinery over to Sherburn and converting the various information systems over to the ARC Group systems. We have done some excellent business with the Merch Stall and As Thieves customer base and have been successful in increasing the value of this business.

“Now that the group is consolidated in Sherburn we are beginning marketing and business development activities. We have been working on the structure and systems to ensure that, when we start business development activities for Merch Stall and As Thieves, we will be able to deliver promptly and provide the extremely high level of customer service that ARC Group is known for.”

Serving SMEs, blue-chip companies, supermarkets, and councils among others, ARC was established over a decade ago by Rebecca and Anthony Chapman in the family’s kitchen.

As it grew, the business moved to Sherburn Enterprise Center and then made a further move in January 2019 when it purchased Unit 4, Blackburn Industrial Estate on Enterprise Way, which has circa-450sqm space.

Joe Tilston, managing director of Merch Stall, is staying with the business and will continue to be responsible for operations. The three-staff company’s two other people were unable to move with the business as they could not travel to Sherburn every day.

Tilston said: “The acquisition of Merch Stall by ARC gives us increased buying power and the ability to cross sell ARC Group products to our considerable customer base. I am looking forward to being part of the ARC team and to our continued success.”

12-staff ARC now has opportunities for additional staff, with “three or four” current vacancies in areas including screen printing and the warehouse. It also has a small number of apprentice roles available.

“We are happy for ARC staff to work flexible hours to suit their family commitments and we welcome university students looking to fund their education,” said Chapman.

“We have a successful apprentice scheme and will be taking additional apprentices on in the new year; I am very keen to give young people a start in life.”

Following the acquisition, the company runs various printers and cutters, as well as an embroidery department with six and eight head machines. It has also recently invested around £20,000 in a new direct-to-film (DTF) setup.

“Now we have Merch Stall, this has opened new markets to the group like the merchandise sector supplying merchandise for the clubs, groups, and everyone that wants us to,” said Chapman.

“Merch Stall specializes in the music sector, so we are looking to increase this area and continue to support the areas mentioned.”

He added: “We are planning further acquisitions once we have fully consolidated the Merch Stall and As Thieves businesses and are comfortable that the group is working effectively and taking advantage of the efficiencies that the additional volumes bring us.

“Our strategy is twofold; we will make acquisitions in the same markets that we are presently in but we will also acquire new product capabilities so that we can sell more to our existing and new customers. Increasing customer spend is a key strategy that we follow.”

ARC is expecting its revenues to be between £1m and £2m this year.

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