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Otter House acquires Jarrold Calendars

Otter House publishing has acquired Norwich-based calendar publisher, Vista Stationery & Print Ltd (trading as Jarrold Calendars), for an undisclosed fee.

The move is set against the backdrop of Otter House’s (OH) decision to end its commercial relationship with the UK arm of US calendar giant, Brown Trout.

Historically, OH and Brown Trout had worked closely together to form the retail category brand, Great Big Calendar Collection (GBCC) and sell the concept into UK retail. The Collection is a consolidated range of calendars from a variety of publishers incorporated into a single catalogue and sold into retailers under the GBCC banner.

Jarrold had also been part of the GBCC and GT understands the sale grew out of general discussions between the two businesses about how best to move forward.

David Pike, Group Managing Director of Otter House Group, said: “This acquisition is a great fit within our overall strategy to develop Otter House into the leading calendar publishing business in the UK. Vista’s design, production and sales teams add real strength to our business and we welcome all of them on board.”

Steve Plackett, Managing Director of Vista, said: “We will continue to operate from our Norwich base and being part of the Otter House Group opens a wealth of opportunities as we bring the two businesses together, not only in terms of calendars, but also for growing the Otter House stationery publishing business. We are all very excited by this development.”

“Jarrold definitely had its issues,” added Pike. “Not in a publishing sense but in terms of service. Delivering on time was an area of concern due to problems with its Indian print parent so the sale was a natural progression.”

While the design side of Jarrold remain in Norwich, the sales side, headed by Martin Rees-Davies, will work alongside the OH team.

“Surprisingly, in sales terms, there is very little overlap between the two businesses,” added Pike. “Jarrold had some major retailers like WH Smith for instance, which we couldn’t get into but there’s probably more overlap in the independents. It’s not significant though.”

Strategically, the acquisition of Jarrold and the dissolution of the trading arrangement with Brown Trout is designed to strengthen OH’s position in UK calendar publishing.

“The GBCC relationship with Brown Trout had run its course,” explains Pike. “The structure was inefficient and there was a gap between publishing and selling that wasn’t always effective. Then there was pricing pressure and inevitably with too many layers in the supply chain there were problems.

“It wasn’t a decision taken lightly but In effect we’re now in direct competition with Brown Trout, which will no longer sell into the GBCC catalogue.”

In terms of relationships with key retailers and multiple grocers, Pike states that “Otter House will compete to be the category champion for those retailers”.

“Looking ahead to 2012, our title count will rise to 600-700 titles, which will make us the biggest calendar publisher in the UK,” he added.

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