TCT Increases Production Capacity
Thames Card Technology Ltd (Thames), one of the UK’s largest manufacturers of secure and non-secure plastic cards, has responded to market demand for its gift, loyalty and payment card production services with the purchase of two new machines. The ‘best-in-class’ equipment incorporates technologies that deliver the increased capacity required to maintain its position as the go-to provider for the UK plastic card market.
“The purchase of this new machinery is central to our growth plans following December’s investment of £3.2m from independent UK investment firm, BGF,” comments Paul Underwood, Managing Director at Thames. “The exponential growth of the gift and loyalty sectors, the increasing number of banking customers in the developing world and EMV migration in the US is seeing demand for our services grow and these purchases maximise our ability to respond.”
Gift, loyalty and membership card production capacity has been increased by an additional 50% thanks to the Atlantic Zeiser Cardline Versa machine, which offers a high-speed drop on demand (DoD) card personalisation system. It streamlines and expedites the card production process, enabling the data to be encoded and printed onto the card, scratch labels to be attached and camera-automated verification to happen in-line, on a single machine.
Further investment has been made to improve services for the gift, loyalty and banking market with a Kurtz C7000 High-Speed Hologram and Foil Blocking System.
“Not only are we significantly increasing capacity, we are also adding capabilities and improving continuity as these new machines will supplement our existing infrastructure,” concludes Paul. “With increased output we are also investing in a second secure vault to store our Visa and MasterCard products throughout the manufacturing and personalisation process.
“This is an exciting stage in our growth and it is full steam ahead with our growth plan as we strive to improve efficiency and streamline processes which will benefit us and, most importantly, our customers. We look forward to announcing further purchases in due course as part of our plans to develop our share of the banking market.”
BGF invested £5m growth capital in Plastique, a manufacturer of thermoformed plastic and pulp packaging.
The company designs and manufactures packaging for customers in the personal care, household products, pharmaceutical, food and broader retail markets. Headquartered in Tunbridge Wells, Plastique invested BGF’s capital to build its thermoformed pulp packaging capability and expand its manufacturing facility in Poland. With BGF’s support, Plastique became the first European manufacturer of smooth surfaced thermoformed pulp packaging.
After a period of sustained growth, in February 2015, Plastique was acquired by TEQ, an Illinois-based thermoformed packaging company and subsidiary of NYSE listed ESCO Technologies Inc., for an undisclosed sum.
The acquisition by TEQ will enable the Plastique team to continue to develop their product offering and expand sales opportunities into new geographies and sectors. Plastique’s management team will remain in the business to drive the next phase of growth and oversee the integration with TEQ.
BGF pipes £3m into drainage contractor to accelerate growth
In June 2014, BGF announced a growth capital investment of £3m in Flowline Limited, a leading drainage contractor in the South East of England.
The £3m investment for a minority stake in Flowline, enabled the business to acquire Clearaway Drainage Services Limited, provide capital to support organic growth, strengthen the senior management team and train staff to deliver new services and operate in new markets. The acquisition of Clearaway adds expertise in the rail and industrial markets.
Flowline was founded in 1991 by Managing Director Barry Robins and since then, the business has grown revenues to over £8m in the year ending July 2014. The company operates from its head office in Rayleigh, Essex with satellite sites near Reigate, Surrey and South Mimms, Hertfordshire. The Company currently employs 85 staff.
Flowline is a commercial drainage contractor providing CCTV pipeline surveying, high pressure water jetting, gully and catchpit cleaning, waste recycling, liquid waste tankering and road sweeping primarily into the water and highways markets. It currently runs a fleet of 60 vehicles serving customers across London, the Home Counties and nationally when required. Customers include infrastructure owners such as Thames Water and Anglian Water. Clearaway was established in 1994 and is based in Kings Langley, Hertfordshire. The acquisition adds expertise and a strong track record in two new markets; rail and industrial, and skills in two additional technically complex service lines in relining and robotic cutting.
In addition, at the introduction of BGF, Alan Horton, the former CEO of Evander Glazing & Locks, joined the Flowline board as Non-Executive Chairman and Investment Director Rory Pope joined the board as BGF’s representative.
Barry Robins, Managing Director and founder of Flowline, said:
“Having built up a profitable and highly regarded business in the sector, I am convinced that now is the time to take advantage of a capital injection and combine it with our experience to grow the business faster and further. The investment will allow us to build our fleet and equipment, make value enhancing acquisitions and recruit additional experience into the business. I look forward to working with BGF as a partner to achieve these goals.”
BGF Investment Director, Rory Pope, said:
“This is an exciting opportunity to back a well-established business operating in a robust sector. Flowline has a clear growth strategy based on continuing to win new contracts for its existing services, and expansion into new markets where substantial opportunities exist such as rail and industrial, supported by the strategic acquisition of Clearaway. We are looking forward to partnering with Barry and the management team to drive the business forward and capitalise on the opportunities that exist for them.”
TCT INKS CARD DEAL WITH GHANA BANK
Thames to handle manufacture, personalisation and fulfilment of 1m EMV chip cards for Ghana’s largest commercial bank
BGF portfolio company Thames Card Technology Ltd (TCT), one of the UK’s largest manufacturers of secure and non-secure plastic cards, specialising in banking and prepaid products, has won a competitive tender to be the sole supplier for the production, personalisation and distribution of one million EMV® chip payment cards for Ghana Commercial Bank (GCB Ltd.). Thames will also offer its portfolio of consultancy services to support GCB Ltd. in its transfer to EMV over the next three years, in addition to working closely with the bank and its processor, International Card Processing Services (ICPS), to streamline integration with international payment systems.
This announcement follows news in January that TCT secured growth capital investment of £3.2m from BGF.
Following consultation with Thames, GCB Ltd. is deploying its first commercial EMV products in anticipation of an October 2015 mandate from MasterCard and Visa requiring all Ghanaian banks to migrate to dynamic data authentication (DDA) capable cards. DDA provides protection against the modification of data and card cloning and is the most sophisticated EMV authentication protocol available today.
Samuel Sarpong, CTO at Ghana Commercial Bank Ltd., comments: “As the bank with the largest branch & ATM network in Ghana, we are working hard to stay ahead of the curve in the fight against payment fraud in Africa. EMV migration DDA mandates have been set for 2015 and Thames Card Technology will be central to our success in meeting these deadlines. It was of paramount importance that we found a partner with the ability to manage every stage of the card production process. Thames’ full service offering, technical expertise and international experience of taking customers through EMV migration made it the ideal partner to help us deliver added payment security to our two million account holders.”
Thames will manufacture nine different EMV cards for GCB Ltd., ‘standard’, ‘gold’, ‘corporate’ and ‘private’ for both MasterCard and Visa customers, in addition to a private label card for the bank, called ‘Ready Cash’.
“We have a proven track record in supporting EMV implementations and look forward to guiding GCB Ltd. through this process,” comments Paul Underwood, Managing Director of Thames Card Technology. “GCB Ltd. is at the forefront of the Ghanaian banking market, and with their plans to migrate all card holders onto EMV technology by the end of 2015 I am sure other financial institutions in Ghana, and surrounding countries, will be looking to follow suit.”
Underwood concludes: “Banking in the developing world is gathering serious momentum. The investment from BGF is enabling us to deliver our trademark quality of service to customers further afield than ever before.”
As part of the migration process Thames has established a secure connection to GCB Ltd’s payments processor, ICPS, which handles the payments processing for numerous banks across East and West Africa. Roshaan Kulpoo, General Manager of ICPS Ltd., comments: “This initial collaboration with Thames Card Technology provides a strong basis for future business initiatives on the continent.”
Commenting on the new relationship with ICPS, Underwood adds: “We are now in a strong position to similarly assist the region’s other financial institutions looking to provide their customers with a more secure and reliable solution.”
EMV is a global standard for credit and debit payment cards based on secure chip technology. More than eighty countries worldwide have adopted, or are adopting, EMV, in order to increase transaction security, reduce fraud, enable cardholders to execute payments worldwide and take advantage of a payments infrastructure capable of supporting a variety of new value added applications.
THAMES CARD TECHNOLOGY
Plastic card manufacturer draws £3.2m investment from BGF
BGF’s final investment of 2013 was in Essex-based Thames Card Technology Ltd (“TCT”), one of the UK’s largest plastic card manufacturers. BGF’s £3.2m growth capital investment will enable TCT to acquire new manufacturing equipment, increasing capacity and efficiency. Its financial and operational support will also help the company to capitalise on the significant growth opportunities offered in the international bankcard market and the prepaid card market.
This was BGF’s 14th investment in the manufacturing sector. Since its inception in May 2011, BGF has injected over £60 million of growth capital into UK manufacturing-led businesses.
From its site in Rayleigh in Essex, TCT provides a full-service offering to organisations that wish to distribute plastic cards to their customers, including design and manufacture of cards as well as personalisation and dispatch. It services a range of markets with an international blue chip customer base across banking, retail, telecoms and ID. In 2013, TCT manufactured over 175m credit/debit, gift and loyalty cards, generating sales of £18m.
The business was founded in 1994 by the current MD, Paul Underwood, initially focusing on non-secure cards (e.g. gift, loyalty and membership cards) before expanding into secure cards (e.g. credit, debit and prepaid cards) and achieving Visa and MasterCard accreditation in 2000.
The increasing number of banking customers in the developing world, particularly in Africa, combined with the move towards chip cards presents a considerable growth opportunity. There is also strong demand for prepaid cards that are pre-loaded with funds; prepaid cards represent the fastest growing form of payment method in the past five years and the prepaid card base in Europe is expected to reach 418m in 2015.
In addition, the investment enabled TCT to add to its senior team and, at the introduction of BGF, Andy Caffyn, the former CEO of Deloro Stellite Group and Avery Weigh-Tronix, joined the TCT board as Non-Executive Chairman. BGF’s Head of Manufacturing Mark Bryant also provides operational support and Investment Director Rory Pope joined the board as BGF’s representative.
Paul Underwood, MD and founder of Thames Card Technology, said:
“After 19 years of building TCT and funding growth from our own cash proceeds, I took the decision with my senior team that it was time to secure an injection of equity finance so that we could go further, faster, to realise our growth ambitions. There are significant opportunities to go for in the next three years and we wanted to ensure that lack of finance did not hinder us from doing that.
“Having made the decision to bring in external funding, it was then a question of which provider would suit us best. BGF stood out as not only can they provide us with the necessary capital but they will also offer us valuable guidance and support. One of their directors, himself an experienced manufacturing entrepreneur, is working with our operations team and a BGF representative will sit on our board. Undoubtedly we know our business well but this additional experience can only be a good thing for the company, its staff, suppliers and ultimately our customers.”
BGF Investment Director, Rory Pope, said:
“Thames Card Technology is an excellent example of a business that is suited to the growth capital investment that BGF is offering. It has done exceptionally well to reach the position that it occupies today as a respected card manufacturer and a leading company in its space. It has been able to fund steady upward growth from its own balance sheet.
“However Paul and the senior team now want to see that growth accelerate and recognise that we can help them to capitalise on the opportunities in the international banking market and the prepaid card market.
“For BGF, this is an exciting opportunity to support a UK manufacturing business that is looking to grow its domestic and export sales and we look forward to working with the team.”
BGF’s Head of Manufacturing, Mark Bryant, said:
“The UK has a tremendous depth and breadth of manufacturing capability across a wide range of sectors. Numerous sectors are experiencing significant growth and for many, now is an ideal time to invest. TCT recognises this and will benefit from both a strengthened financial position and the operational focus that BGF brings. This combination will accelerate the adoption of Lean Techniques and a greater drive to eliminate waste, complementing the excellent service and quality that TCT provides. I am looking forward to supporting TCT on this journey of continuous improvement.”