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Purchase of Catherine Binding suits die Keure's growth strategy

Die Keure, a publishing house and printer from Bruges, recently purchased Catherine Binding, a neighbouring company. The purchase is part of a vertical integration of the production process and it provides room to grow on the site in the Kleine Pathoekeweg. The recent change at the top is pumping new oxygen into the family business that wants to continue to make a difference in a quickly changing sector by offering top quality. 

Alexis Bogaert was appointed CEO at die Keure this spring. He has experience in the private equity world and was on the Board of Directors at die Keure for eight years; he was the chairman for four years. He is the third generation of the Norman family to manage die Keure together with the Deschildre family - both families also own Continuga in Heule. 

"Die Keure was founded in 1942 and was originally a printer that mainly worked for the government. Later it started publishing its own publications", says Alexis Bogaert, proving that he knows the company's history very well. "Even today we focus on legal and economic themes and on the educational segment. We cover everything for schools from cradle to grave: we have offerings that cover pre-school and primary school to advanced studies. The legal and educational publications are still a very important part of our activities, in addition to commercial printed matter for domestic and foreign markets, and they help determine the perception that many people in Belgium have of die Keure."

High-quality art books

The company is renowned, especially abroad, for high-quality art books. "We have already made catalogues for most museums of worldwide renown, including the Tate Modern, the MoMa and the Rijksmuseum", says Alexis Bogaert. 

"Even Sotheby's places orders with us. About 15% of our 30 million euro annual sales currently come from outside Belgium. But we still see a growth margin in the museum world and in luxury magazines that are distributed internationally."

Catherine Binding is a bindery with a team of 15 people who specialise in glued and stitched books, primarily paperbacks. Alexis Bogaert: "Printing is an activity with low margins. At binderies you see small players disappearing and, on the other hand, consolidations. What remains are large binderies and integrated printing houses that do their own binding. By purchasing Catherine Binding, we now control the entire production process. That's important if you want to deliver the kind of quality that we have in mind."

Online education supplements printed matter

With 215 employees, die Keure is a major player in the graphic world. Only ten percent of those employees work solely on digital publications. "In the educational world, the teacher's chalk is being replaced with digital platforms. We have developed suitable teaching methods to that end. We also integrate curricula in games. It started with the Monkey Tales Games, a maths game for primary schools that's now available internationally via Steam - an online download platform. This school year we launched a 3D learning platform that supplies school methods. It's called Kweetet.be and it covers the maths, language and world studies curriculum for primary schools. There is a huge future for the digital story in education. It's easier for teachers to see and measure the progress that each child is making. And a game motivates children to learn", concludes Alexis Bogaert. (SD - Photo MVN)

Published in: Ondernemers 15, 10 October 2014