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What does Staples acquisition of Dex Imaging signify for the industry?

I first met Dan Doyle Snr. in 1991, when I was working for Inchcape, at that time a diversified, UK-based FTSE 100 listed overseas trader.  

Inchcape’s wide portfolio of businesses included a large and successful group of office equipment franchises throughout S.E. Asia and Australasia, and we were looking to build on this base to create a new global business stream.

Dan had established Danka as a fast-growing channel operation, starting off in Florida, and expanding by buying up and successfully integrating smaller dealers, with finance provided by a UK investment company. He was also looking to extend internationally, and so there was a good potential fit with Inchcape. I spent an interesting and enjoyable week with Dan and his team in Florida. I came away very impressed with his disciplined, no nonsense management style, and the formula he had found to identify and integrate acquisition targets.

After much discussion, the Inchcape board decided to invest in Gestetner (NRG) rather than Danka, and I was seconded to NRG, as one of Inchcape’s board representatives. Two years later, Inchcape realised that it had taken on more than it could manage with NRG, which had major problems with businesses in Canada and Latin America.

As Inchcape also had problems with another big acquisition in its core Motors business, it decided to sell its investment in NRG to Ricoh, the other major shareholder, and focus on fixing and growing its motor distribution business. As a result, I found myself working for Ricoh, where I stayed for another ten years.

Meanwhile, Dan Doyle, having grown Danka very successfully, then took on more than he could manage with the Kodak printer business, and most of Danka also  ended up in the hands of Ricoh. However, Dan and his son knew they had a winning formula, and started again, building Dex Imaging into one of the largest mega dealers in N. America. I tell this story to illustrate how the wheel has turned full circle in our industry.

The recent announcement of the acquisition of Dex Imaging by Staples surprised me and many others in the industry – one well-known dealer in the US said he was so shocked when he heard the news that he thought it must be a joke.

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This article was written on 13 Apr 2019, and is filled under Non classé.