G A Pindar & Son Ltd.

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G A Pindar & Son Ltd.

Providence House
2 Innovation Close
York Science Park
Heslington, York YO10 5ZF
United Kingdom
Telephone: (44 1723) 581581
Fax: (44 1723) 502335
Web site: http://www.pindar.co.uk

Private Company
Incorporated: 1836
Employees: 650
Sales: £140 million ($200 million) (2006 est.)
NAIC: 541430 Graphic Design Services; 511140 Database and Directory Publishers

G A Pindar & Sons Ltd. is a leading specialist in graphics and printing services for the business-to-business market in the United Kingdom, the United States, and elsewhere. The company is grouped into three complementary businesses: Pindar Graphics, Pindar Set, and AlphaGraphics.

Pindar Graphics provides graphics and visual support services, across a full range of platforms, including print and web-based applications. The companys services include design and photography, mailing, and fulfillment. The company has also extended its operations to include web site creation, content, and e-commerce operations. Pindar Graphics is a leading catalog printer, counting such major customers as Avon, Littlewoods, and Musto. The companys acquisition of Cooper Clegg in 2007 has strengthened its magazine printing business, and now counts such titles as Vanity Fair, Top Sante, FHM, Bliss and others among its printing operations.

Pindar Set is a subsidiary dedicated to providing design, graphics and support services for Yell Group, publisher of the Yellow Pages in the United States and the Yellow Books in the United States. Finally, since the early 2000s Pindar has also been the majority owner of AlphaGraphics Inc., the U.S. specialist in business-tobusiness graphics and printing services. The franchised AlphaGraphics network boasts more than 260 stores in the United States, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere in the world, including China, Chile, and Mexico. Founded in 1836, Pindar has been wholly owned and led by the Pindar family since the 1880s. George Andrew Pindar, great-grandson of the companys founder, is Pindars current chairman. With the inclusion of Cooper Clegg, Pindars revenues were expected to top £140 million ($200 million) in 2007.


Pindar originated as a small printers shop founded by George Kyte Grice in 1836 in Scarborough, England. Grices business remained a local affair for most of the century. Grice was joined in the business by George Arthur Pindar at the beginning of the 1870s, and Pindar later bought the shop from Grice, paying 500 pounds sterling. The Pindar family was to remain in control of the printing business into the 21st century, developing it from a local business to a national, and then international graphics and printing specialist.

By the end of the 19th century, the Pindar family business offered a variety of services, in addition to its printing operation, including bookbinding and die stamping. The shop also sold stationery. The Pindars also grew into a prominent family in Scarborough, with several members, including the founders son, George Arthur Pindar, and George Kyte Grice Pindar, serving as mayors and aldermen of the city. The younger George Arthur became head of the print shop in the early years of the 20th century.

Pindars move into modern printing came under the leadership of George Thomas (Tom) Pindar, who took over from his father in 1954. Under Tom Pindar, the company invested in the newly emerging printing technologies, including phototypesetting. Into the 1970s, the company became a pioneer in the use of computer phototypesetting techniques as well. Pindars early entry into the computer-driven printing market enabled it to develop operations in text and graphics databases as well.

The companys technological advantage placed it in position to secure a major contract at the end of the 1970s. Until then, the General Post Office, which also oversaw the countrys telecommunications monopoly, also held a monopoly on the printing and distribution of its Yellow Pages telephone directories. Launched only in 1966, and on a national basis only in 1973, the Yellow Pages had quickly grown into an important source of revenues for the Post Office. In preparation for the coming breakup of the Post Office into separate companies for its post office and telecommunications businesses, the Post Office established a new subsidiary for its directories operations. Later known as Yell plc, the new division began searching for a partner for support of its directories. Yell turned to Pindar, which created a new subsidiary, Pindar Set, in order to provide typesetting and prepress services for Yells directories operations. Formed in 1979, the Yell-Pindar partnership proved a long-lasting one, continuing into the next century. Under Pindar, the Yellow Pages were transformed from a manually based operation to a digitally driven business. By 1984, Pindar had completed the Yellow Pages conversion to digital technology.


Pindars embrace of new technologies continued to play a role in the companys growthand survivalin the increasingly competitive U.K. graphics market. The emergence of desktop publishing platforms, which many in the printing industry saw as a direct threat to their own business, instead became a new growth area for Pindar. In a move led by the next generation of the Pindar family, George Andrew Pindar, who joined the company in 1979, Pindar embraced the desktop publishing market into the 1990s. For this, the company recognized the growing need for specialized and tailor-fit software systems, in particular for the development and printing of catalogs, brochures, and the like. Pindar established its own software development arm, later known as Pindar Systems, and quickly became a leading player in this market, supplying more than 2,000 businesses across the United Kingdom. Andrew Pindar became company CEO in 1995, and took over as chairman in 1997.


In any competitive marketplace, it helps to have a strong brand. In ours, we are committed to building two: Pindar and AlphaGraphics. Each means something strong in its own market, and has developed a real presence that is reinforced with every customer experience. We encourage as much collaboration within, across and between the two brands as possible, but nothing is more important than those brands relationships with their customers. People within Pindar see in AlphaGraphics people a new dimension to the business, a more direct contact with public and corporate customers, as well as a sense of community and involvement in local economies. AlphaGraphics people look at Pindar people and see the traditions of a family business working in 21st century ways, developing leading-edge technologies and providing the basis for future collaboration and learning.

By then, Pindar had also recognized the potential offered by another fast-growing printing and graphics sector, the quick-print and copying market. A tiny industry when it first appeared at the end of the 1960s, the quick print sector had grown substantially in the 1980s. From simple copy centers, these businesses had expanded to offer full-scale digital text graphics processing services. Among the major players in the sector was AlphaGraphics. Founded by Rodger Ford in 1970 near the University of Arizona campus in Tucson, AlphaGraphics started out as a low-cost copy center, offering copies as low as 0.03 cents per copy. AlphaGraphics later focused its expansion on the business-to-business market, and by the end of the 1970s had refined its business model. In 1979, the company launched its first franchise operations, and in 1984 AlphaGraphics became one of the first in the sector to expand its operations to include desktop publishing services. This early entry enabled the chain to grow rapidly through the decade. By the beginning of the 1990s, AlphaGraphics boasted more than 325 shops. The company had also been quick to enter the international market, and by 1991 had operations in 12 countries.

AlphaGraphics growth provided Pindar with the opportunity to move into the quick print sector. By the end of the 1980s, Pindar had secured the franchise rights to both the United Kingdom and Ireland. Pindar also invested directly into AlphaGraphics and through the 1990s developed into one of its major shareholders. By the end of the 1990s, the company had acquired 31 percent of AlphaGraphics. When the Tucson-based operations other major shareholder decided to retire in 2001, Pindar acquired his 37 percent, giving it majority control. At that time, Pindar moved AlphaGraphics headquarters to Salt Lake City, Utah. In the meantime, AlphaGraphics had expanded to 23 countries worldwide, including Hong Kong, China, Brazil, Russia, Indonesia, and Saudi Arabia.

After adding AlphaGraphics as a subsidiary, Pindar spun off its software operation, Pindar Systems, in 2001. Although originally created to support Pindars in-house software needs, Pindar Systems had developed a strong external business clientele in its own right, and a management-led buyout of the operations created an independent company. Pindar Systems hoped to develop itself as an internationally competitive player.

Indeed, Pindar Systems appeared off to a good start, setting up a partnership with Germanys Done!ware to distribute Pindars own Content Management System (CMS) software in Germany as well as Austria. Pindar Systems, which boasted clients including Eddie Bauer and Office Depot, also received a major investment boost when Granville Baird Capital injected $12 million into the company. Although initially focused on developing extensions for such popular desktop publishing systems as Quark Xpress, Pindar Systems focus turned more and more toward the highly promising e-commerce market in the early 2000s. By the middle of the decade, the company had complemented its CMS software offerings with the highly regarded Agility CMS package, a web site content management program for marketers, designers, and editors.

Yet Pindar Systems was hard hit by the downturn in the global information technology (IT) sector, as order levels dropped, while competition increased steadily. By early 2004, Pindar Systems appeared ready to sink. Rather than risk the permanent loss of the CMS and Agility software systems, Pindar moved to reacquire Pindar Systems in March of that year. The move not only enabled Pindar Systems survival, it allowed the subsidiary to renew its expansion. In November 2004, for example, Pindar Systems reached a cooperation agreement with Alfaprint, based in Belgium, to extend the graphics capabilities of the CMS and Agility systems with Alfaprints browser-based Image Share and Data Gatherer tools. In 2006, Pindar expanded its software market again, teaming up with New Zealands Egan Reid to distribute its software suite, now called Agility-CMS, to the Australian and New Zealand markets.

As it moved toward mid-decade, Pindar restructured its operations. The company adopted a strategy of developing its operations through three businesses, Pindar Graphics, Pindar Set, and AlphaGraphics. The restructuring also reflected the companys decision to focus its brand-building effort around its two main brands, Pindar and AlphaGraphics.


George Kyte Grice opens journeyman printers shop in Scarborough, England.
George Arthur Pindar enters Grice business and later buys it for 500 pounds sterling.
George Thomas Pindar, grandson of founder, takes over as head of the company and expands through use of phototypesetting technology.
AlphaGraphics, in Tucson, Arizona, is founded.
Pindar gains contract to supply prepress services for Yellow Pages in the United Kingdom.
Pindar acquires majority control of Alpha-Graphics; spins off software development subsidiary Pindar Systems.
Company reacquires Pindar Systems.
Screen Pages in the United Kingdom is acquired.
Company expands into web-offset magazine printing market through acquisition of Cooper Clegg.

Pindar, which celebrated 2005 with its strongest-yet revenues of more than £109 million, then began seeking new expansion opportunities. In November 2006, the company announced its acquisition of Screen Pages, based in the United Kingdom, which specialized in developing online marketing services, including the design, construction, and maintenance of retail-oriented e-commerce-enabled web sites. In this way, Pindar was able to complete its web strategy, with services spanning the retail, business-to-business and mail-order sectors.

Pindars next expansion move came in March 2007, when the company announced its acquisition of the web-offset magazine printer Cooper Clegg. Based in Tewkesbury, in the south of England, Cooper Clegg was expected to broaden Pindars geographic base, introducing the company to a new range of clients. In addition, Cooper Clegg enabled Pindar to extend its operations beyond its Scarborough bases focus on the catalog market to include magazine printing for the first time. As such, Cooper Clegg brought a strong portfolio of magazines to Pindar, including FHM, Vanity Fair, Empire, Arena, and Boots Health and Beauty. The addition of Cooper Clegg was also expected to boost Pindars annual revenues to more than £140 million per year, placing the company within the U.K. printing sectors top 15. The company was also the largest privately owned, family controlled printing group in the United Kingdom. After more than 130 years, the Pindar name had achieved worldwide recognition as an important player in the printing industry.

M. L. Cohen


AlphaGraphics Inc. (United States); AlphaGraphics UK; Creative New Media Group Inc. (United States); Pindar Graphics plc; Pindar Set plc.


William M. Mercer Inc.; Dainippon Screen Manufacturing Company Ltd.; Medias Transcontinental SENC; Grupo Aldeasa; ITM Group; Direct Data Capture (UK) Ltd.; Justsystem; Unide Sociedad Cooperativa; Groupe TVA Inc.; KAZ Group; Merant; Pixelpark AG.


Fine Print, Manufacturer, November 2006.

Pindar Adds More of AlphaGraphics, Printing World, June 25, 2001, p. 16.

Pindar Basks in Sweet Smell of Success, Printing World, September 25, 2003, p. 4.

Pindar Improves CMS Software with New Products, Print Week, December 2, 2004, p. 10.

Pindars Major Spend Gives Efficiency Boost, Printing World, September 2, 2004, p. 46.

Pindar Teams up with Alfaprint, Printing World, November 11, 2004, p. 3.

Pindar to the Rescue Before Systems Goes, Printing World, March 18, 2004, p. 40.