Von Hoffmann Corp. has signed a preliminary agreement to acquire Lehigh Press for $110 million in cash. The purchase will deepen Von Hoffmann's presence in the component printing segment and expand its services to include direct marketing, said Mike Ford, v-p of sales and marketing for Von Hoffmann. The purchase is expected to close within 60 days.

Lehigh had sales of $118.7 million in 2002 and operates through two major divisions, Lehigh Lithographers and Lehigh Direct. After the deal is completed, Raymond Frick, CEO of Lehigh, will retain oversight for Lehigh Direct and will report to Von Hoffmann CEO Robert Mathews.

The Lehigh purchase fits with Von Hoffmann's strategy of expanding the product and services it provides. Based in St. Louis, Von Hoffmann had sales of $379 million in 2002, down from a high of $443 million in 2000. For the first six months of 2003, sales rose 1.8%, to $198.1 million, and the company had net income of $2.5 million compared to a net loss of $3.5 million in the first half of 2002.

The company said the improved results were due to significant growth in the supplementary educational and four-color noneducational markets. Sales of four-color elhi and college materials were flat in the period.