Ennis is in the forms and fashion business. Through its print division, the company makes a variety of custom business forms, financial and security documents, envelopes, tags, labels, and promotional products. Ennis's print units include Northstar Computer Forms, Skyline Business Forms, and Adams McClure. The company's Alstyle Apparel subsidiary markets activewear basics (such as T-shirts, tank tops, and fleece) mainly under the AAA and Murina brands, among others. About 98% of Alstyle's revenue is from T-shirt sales. Customers include forms distributors, printers, ad agencies, retailers, and mass marketers. Founded in 1909, the company operates 40-plus manufacturing plants in the US, Mexico, and Canada.
Demand for the company's business forms and other printed products has decreased as electronic and digital technologies replace traditional custom-printed documents and customer communications. Also, the recent recession quelled demand from businesses for Ennis's printing services. As a result, sales from the company's print segment fell to less than $273 million in fiscal 2011 (ends February) vs. just over $327 million in fiscal 2009. During the same period, Ennis's apparel segment saw its sales increase more than 7%, overtaking printing. Nevertheless, Ennis's total sales rebounded more than 6% in fiscal 2011 vs. the previous year, while net income rose 8%.
With business starting to look up, Ennis has resumed making acquisitions after a hiatus during the depths of the recession. Most recently, in 2012 the company acquired certain assets of rival Cenveo's document business, including the manufacturing facilities branded under the names PrintXcel and Printegra, which together generate about $80 million in annual sales. Previously, in 2011 Ennis acquired Printgraphics, with two locations in Ohio and Iowa. Also, Ennis purchased the assets of Neenah, Wisconsin-based Atlas Tag & Label. The Atlas purchase boosted Ennis's capabilities and capacity in its tag and label business, as well as broadened its customer base.
In a bid to reverse slumping sales, Ennis is nearing completion of a new apparel factory located in Sonora, Mexico. The facility, which will serve as a knitting, dyeing, cutting, sewing, and distribution plant, should help Alstyle Apparel become more cost-competitive with its rivals, which include Delta Apparel, Gildan, and Russell. The apparel business faces challenges, including rising cotton costs.