Management buy-out at signs and graphics firm

The Signs Express board of directors, from left: Mark Poole, Ed Guichard, Carl Fisher, Jonathan Bean, Mark Harvey and Aaron Davis.

Signs Express, the signs and graphics franchise, have marked the conclusion of 25 years in franchising with a management buy-out (MBO) led by its finance director, Jonathan Bean.

Bean, who has worked for Signs Express for over 13 years, has now taken the role of managing director of the company. He leads a board of directors, which includes network development director, Aaron Davis and chairman, Carl Fisher of CF Consulting.

The board will be supported by marketing director, Ed Guichard, who has recently joined the company from Norwich City Football Club; IT director, Mark Poole; and commercial director, Mark Harvey.

Craig Brown, who has been a joint shareholder and managing director of Signs Express since 2007 and was the very first employee of the company in 1989, will exit the business to pursue other personal and business interests.

Brown said: “I am delighted to announce this MBO and to now help transition the ownership to a hugely talented management team. I genuinely believe I will be leaving the business in much better shape than when I took the role of managing director and it is poised for a really exciting future.”

Bean added: “We’ve proudly celebrated our 25 years in franchising and marked that milestone to help us achieve incredible growth in our network. Consequently, our trading has been exceptionally strong with our third successive record year. All of this adds up to a fitting tribute to Craig’s tenure as managing director and both I, and the board team, are really excited about building upon that legacy.”

Infrastructure investment
The company says the MBO follows a two-year plan that has seen investment in infrastructure and support services for the network, led by the Norwich-based franchise support team.

One of its initiatives was investing £30,000 in all new franchisee start-ups with the company. This proposition saw the franchise fee of £20,000 reinvested in the start-up along with an additional £10,000.

The business’ 2020 vision, which will see the brand reach 80 production centres, is on-track with nine new franchisees on board and new branches planned throughout the year.

Signs Express has 66 franchises offering a one-stop-shop for business signs and graphics, which include digital signs, wrap-around vehicle graphics, outdoor business signs, custom wallpaper and exhibition displays.