By Scott Wright

EDINBURGH’S last remaining commercial printing business has acquired a major new property as it targets doubling its turnover by 2023.

Ivanhoe Caledonian has taken on a 15,000 square foot site on Edinburgh’s Seafield Road as it experiences high demand following its move into the food and drink packaging sector, which has increased in the wake of the pandemic.

The company, formed by the merger of print businesses Ivanhoe and Caledonian in late 2017, has invested in a six-colour B1 printing press and various pieces of print finishing equipment for its new premises, which it will run alongside its original site in Musselburgh.

And it is expected that the move, which was supported by funding of £1.6 million including a grant from Scottish Enterprise, will result in further additions to the headcount at the business, which currently stands at 28 following the recent recruitment of four personnel. The company, which is the last general commercial printer in Edinburgh with large-format litho presses, hopes to increase turnover to £4m by 2023.

The new premises on Seafield Road have been sub-let from Whyte & Mackay, the Scotch whisky distiller, on an eight-year deal. The deal was brokered by Allied Surveyors.

Keith Cockburn, managing director of Ivanhoe Caledonian, said: “We are looking to double in size by 2023 and have identified future growth opportunities thanks to our loyal customer base and our diversification into the paper and card packaging market. This market is seeing significant growth in Scotland due to Scotland’s strong food and drink export companies looking to shorten their global supply chains, and also turn away from plastic packaging towards more sustainable packaging.”

Ivanhoe Caledonian ultimately plans to consolidate its two sites into a single facility on the edge of the city, but said it will be several years before it is able to fulfil that ambition.

“Seafield is fantastic, but we will need more space than just Seafield,” Mr Cockburn said.

Speaking to The Herald, Mr Cockburn highlighted the benefit of the company’s move into food and drink packaging, which he said has come as consumers have become “more and more aware that plastic packaging, unless it is done properly, is not good for the environment”. He highlighted the impact made by events like the recent COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow and powerful documentaries from Sir David Attenborough.

Food and drink companies supplied by the business include Stoats, the porridge bar maker, to which it supplies cardboard packaging.

“We’re looking to work with more people of that stature,” said Mr Cockburn, who noted the company also works with small distilleries.

While global supply chain shortages have made it difficult for smaller players to secure the packaging products they need from the bigger suppliers, Mr Cockburn said there has been an opportunity for Ivanhoe Caledonian to step in and provide a service to independent companies.

He said: “What might be big customers to us are not really big customers to the big global packaging companies that are based in the UK. A lot of smaller indepedent companies were losing out or at the back of the queue.”

He acknowledged that Ivanhoe Caledonian was also contending with supply chain problems, but said: “Because we are smaller… we can be a bit more flexible. It almost helps us in a way. The [supply chain] issues are wider than us, wider than Scotland and wider than the UK. [Materials] are not as plentiful as they should be, but we are not alone in that.”

Mr Cockburn highlighted the benefit of the age profile of the senior leadership team, who are largely in their mid-40s and in a good position to invest for the long term.

And he observed the company has benefited by recruiting people from printing companies no longer in operation. He likened Ivanhoe Caledonian to a “lifeboat” amid the decline of the sector in recent years. “We have inherited a lot of good people,” he said.

Iain Mercer, director of commercial agency (east) for Allied Surveyors, said: “We conducted a thorough market-wide search for Ivanhoe and these premises at Seafield will provide our client with the required growth space, less than five miles from their current premises.”