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.”
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.”