Cogent B2B acquired the Bradford business in an £8m deal at the end of September. It already owned Prospect Mailing Services and Griffin Direct Marketing.

Chief executive Kevin Dunstall told PrintWeek that the enlarged business, which has sales of more than £70m and employs almost 400 staff, would be brought together under one legal entity – the renamed St Ives Direct Bradford – and one brand in the next couple of weeks.

Some enclosing and polywrapping equipment is being relocated between sites to improve efficiencies.

“At that point the position of the business will be clear,” Dunstall said. “It’s all focused around production, that’s the key. We are not interested in being the lowest-priced provider, we want to be the best quality service provider.

“During September the business overall beat its bottom line budget and this month it’s looking like it will do the same,” he added.

Dunstall said that reports about the business having problems meeting its wage bill were inaccurate: “There was an issue at Prospect when we merged banking systems and had to process the wages manually last month, but it hasn’t affected St Ives staff at all. They were paid on the day we completed, have been paid on time this month, and will continue to be paid on time.”

Dunstall has appointed Andrew Keighley as sales director at the business. Keighley joined St Ives four months ago, having returned from working in the USA for two years. Prior to that his thirty-plus years in print involved senior roles at Polestar Wheatons, Wyndeham Group, and Howitt.

“Andrew has a very interesting background, is very capable and is very keen on moving the business forward,” Dunstall said.

He also highlighted the fact that Bradford managing director Jim McKie and finance director Guy Barnett have remained with the company. Paul Jubbs, the former operations director at Communisis, has joined as director of direct mail and fulfilment.

“I provide the investment and direction of where the business should go, Jim has day-to-day responsibility,” Dunstall explained.

With some £7m of new business wins in the four months since his appointment, Keighley said he was optimistic about the prospects for the company as an independent: “We have had the shackles released and can really get out there into the wider marketplace. There’s a lot of energy and enthusiasm here.”

Dunstall said a three-year plan to invest and grow the business was in place. “I’d like to think this is a positive thing for Bradford. It was clear that St Ives was moving away from commodity print. The business is now owned by someone who wants to invest and take it forward,” he said. “The team we have can truly deliver outstanding results.”