On December 16, Clover Imaging Group confirmed the closing of its acquisition by its executive management team in partnership with Norwest Equity Partners. It marked the end of a period of uncertainty for the world’s largest ink and toner cartridge remanufacturer following financial issues that became public a few months ago.

Clover Imaging president Eric Martin was obviously relieved, but also excited about the future now that it has been freed from the constraints of its 4L Holdings ownership and the relationship with former sister company Clover Wireless. While he admitted that the Xerox/HP supply agreement last year hadn’t helped Clover Imaging, he played down the significance of this in the overall debt repayment problem of 4L and on Clover’s own business operations. “Without Wireless, there is no issue,” he stated, “and we have a strong, healthy balance sheet.”

Clover Imaging has now been decoupled from the Wireless business in terms of shared services, and a small number of Wireless staff moved out of the Chicago-area premises in December. Apart from that, there were no meaningful synergies between the two companies, and none in terms of distribution facilities, etc, so the separation has been relatively painless. Clover Imaging will keep its Clover name while the Wireless unit is now looking at rebranding.

While financial details of the Norwest transaction were not released, Martin said the remanufacturer – which had annual sales of around $450 million in 2019 – has maintained a healthy working capital as well as lender retained cash.

“The management [Martin himself, chairman Jim Cerkleski and CEO George Milton] has put its money where its mouth is and we are really looking forward to operating as an independent company again,” he said.

Of course, there are still secular declines in the print industry that Clover will have to contend with, in addition to disruptive strategies by the OEMs and the growing presence of the new-build cartridge manufacturers. However, Martin believes that increased public awareness of environmental sustainability will play to Clover Imaging’s advantage.

He pointed to recent market share wins in the enterprise space as large corporations demand more sustainable solutions, and momentum across a range of channels as the environmental message resonates with more customers. Initiatives such as the Silver Bullet programme aimed at HP customers have been successful, Martin said, and the impact of recent industry consolidation in the managed print space is also likely to be of benefit to Clover Imaging, he noted.

There are no plans to make sweeping changes to how the business operates across its 43 global markets, Martin confirmed. The management team will drive efficiencies as they always have done, he said, but the change of ownership won’t mean a period of disruption. On the contrary, he firmly believes it represents a fresh opportunity for Clover Imaging to grow and once again be the master of its own destiny.

Source: Clover Imaging