Left Bank Art Group buys Melbourne print business, Milkbar Print

Left Bank Art Group, a fine art print and framing specialist on the Gold Coast, has big plans for expansion with the recent purchase of Melbourne’s Milkbar Print another step in that journey.

The business which specialises in fine art printing, framing and artist representation work operates from a state-of-the-art factory at Southport – a far cry from the garage it was located in back in 2008 with one Epson printer.

The business was originally started by Bob and Sandy Simm as Left Bank Gallery in 1989 and their 36-year-old son Toby Simm is now running the business and has firm growth plans in place, with no doubt more to come.

The business now employs around 20 staff and recently upgraded its flatbed capabilities with a new HP R2000 press.

Simm explains a conversation with a customer last year resulted in discussions with the husband-and-wife owners of Melbourne print business, Milkbar Print. COVID restrictions meant Simm was unable to travel to Melbourne to meet the couple or see the business, so the deal was formulated over the phone and email.

“Milkbar is a small business run by a husband and wife team with a print production manager. The owners are transitioning out as they don’t want to be doing the day to day any longer after the next few months, but they want to stay and do exhibitions and art shows so there is a huge synergy between us and we will be continuing to work together for many years,” Simm told Sprinter.

The acquisition means Left Bank gains a presence in Melbourne for its own brand, while also continuing to run with the Milkbar brand which specialises in direct-to-garment t-shirt printing, stickers, fine art prints, wallpapers, decals and signage.

“They had a slightly different core business to us, but we were looking to open in Melbourne anyway and this was a way to purchase equipment that was already in place and a customer list that was already in place and launch our brand down there at the same but also maintain an established brand down there as well,” Simm said.

“So, it is exciting times for us.

“They run two Epson direct-to-garment printers so that is a new area for us. They also have an Epson P20070 just like we do so they will have the same capabilities down there for fine art printing.

“We’ve got the R2000 in Southport and they have an Epson eco-solvent down there in Melbourne which they use to print stickers, wallpapers and wall murals which we run on our R series. We haven’t gone into stickers, we don’ have a flatbed cutter and they’ve got a Summa flatbed cutter.”

Left Bank Art Group is setting itself up with a strong brand strategy and is set to announce details soon of a new Brand Ambassador to further entrench their play in the interior design and fine art sectors.

Simm studied as a graphic designer and his first job was with Worldwide Print.

“I’ve been working in print for over 20 years and am so passionate about what I am doing and so excited about this growth,” he said.

“It was a picture framing business with an Epson printer in mum and dad’s garage in 2008 and now just over a decade later we are really expanding.”

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