Digitalab, a multi-award winning professional photography lab, has successfully merged with Colorworld, thanks to the support from Experience Bank Group.
Jill Roe, the owner of Digitalab and Mike Brydon, Colorworld’s founder met in 2019 travelling from Tilburg in the Netherlands, having been on a Fuji factory visit that all labs in the UK had been invited to. The pair got chatting on their journey home to the North East and realised their companies had different strengths and customer bases, so potentially could work together as one with many benefits. They started to explore the possibility and then Covid hit.
In September 2021, the pair got back in touch and picked up the discussions, deciding to take the leap as a merger seemed the best for both putting them three years ahead in their business growth aims. However, neither had done or been involved in a merger before. It was then that Angelina Bell from Scale Up recommended Experience Bank Group and Andrew Marsh. Jill said:
“Mike loved Digitalab’s brand, product range and growth and I liked the fact that Colorworld had bigger premises, more capacity, greater technical capability, and a solid IT and HR infrastructure.
“Andrew has been amazing – he has navigated us through unchartered waters, taking both sides concerns of the merger into considerations. Andrew was instrumental in allaying all of our fears and outlining opportunity. We have four directors now, as Calum Thomson and John Wilkinson are part of the team. Andrew pulled us together as a team, highlighted the challenges and how to overcome them, and made it all possible. He removed the deal breakers and created with us details within our articles of association to protect everyone.”
The company has kept the name Digitalab but relocated to the Colorworld premises in North Shields to allow for growth. By bringing together Mike and Jill’s core business – Digitalab’s wall art, framing and print and Colorworld’s printed albums and school photography – the company can now cross sell to each customer base, positioning themselves for growth.
And whilst this year’s plan is consolidation, ensuring they are serving current customers to their usual high quality, the newly formed company has started employing and now has 35 staff. In the coming years Jill says to watch this space, as they will aim for an initial 20% increase in sales, aiming for double the combined turnover the following year.
“A merger can be a daunting thing when you own the company, but having an impassioned third party involved to map out the process makes it cleaner and more effective. Digitalab and Colorworld were two great companies that have come together as one – to facilitate this we agreed the process and then I facilitated the actions including working with the lawyers on heads of terms, liaising with accountants, and guiding them all through new models of articles, shareholders agreements, asset transfers, staff and ensuring their governance and policies were all updated.
“We worked closely as board advisors and were delighted to see the newly formed Digitilab launch to market. I wish the team all the luck, and will keep a close on their progress should they need further support!”
“Andrew has been a god send, we didn’t feel clock watched, he was very patient, pulled legal teams together, helped us all of the HR and kept a great team focused. We couldn’t have done this without the support of Experience Bank Group and we would like to say a huge thank you!”
Experience Bank Group incorporates The Experience Bank philanthropic, social enterprise company along with a commercial venture providing three symbiotic services – EB Board Level Recruitment, EB High Performing Boards and EB Continuous Personal Development.
With this combination of specialist expertise, the Experience Bank Group is uniquely positioned to help organisations ensure they have not only the right skills in the leadership team and boardroom but also optimum board performance with higher value creation.
5% of all revenue from Experience Bank Group is gifted to The Experience Bank social enterprise to enable more start-ups, early-stage businesses, charities and social enterprises access to high quality, advisory and non-executive talent.