Printing industry mourns the collapse of Westdale Press as the Covid-19 recession continues plus more news from the printing industry

2020 11 05 Westdale


Printing industry mourns the collapse of Westdale Press as the Covid-19 recession continues plus more news from the printing industry

There has been an outpouring of emotion by many in the printing and allied industries over the collapse of the Cardiff colour print firm Westdale Press.

Alan Padbury

Reporting in the trade journal Print Week Jo Francis explained how the respected company had been ‘fatally wounded by the double-whammy of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.’

The firm had called in administrators in October after what ICSM credit understands was a battle to keep the business going through out the summer.

Jo Francis said: “Administrators from Menzies were appointed at the Cardiff-based company yesterday (15 October) by managing director and owner Alan Padbury.”

She said Padbury said he had strived to find a way to save the business, which employed around 85 staff. It previously had sales of £13m but had been “limping along” at about £8m this year.

And she reported that he said he was absolutely devastated about the situation.

Print week continued: “It has been a tortuous six months and we’ve done so many things, I could probably write two books. We explored all the possibilities, all of the loan options and tried marketing the company [for sale] but we’ve run out of road.”

In the comments section on the print week website Mitesh Chouhan wrote, “How Tragic, sad story & depressing times :( Sadly there will be more casualties. Westdale had a decent balance sheet, good cash reserves, minimal debt and respectable debtor to creditor ratio.” Antoner Printshire said, “I fear into the new year 2021 there will be carnage within the trade and wider business community.” While Gerrard Moss said: “I've been in printing just over 50 years and seen several recessions in this time, this one is a bad one because there seems to be no end in sight to this virus.” David Deere pointed out that the MD had sold his car and other assets to pay for wages as the firm struggled.

The main comments also expressed sympathy largely because the recession has hit businesses that were viable before the virus arrived. Matt Booker summer up the thoughts of many: “As a longstanding customer of Westdale Press I have to say they were a first class operation, and this is the saddest of news for all of the people involved. Well invested, extremely well run and with a team that from top to bottom had an unrivalled level of knowledge and dedication. Unfair is a huge understatement. This industry needs more people like Westdale Press.”

Lockdown 2

The printing industry has taken a hammering this year with the Covid-19 recession. Print Week has charted the reaction of the business to the second lockdown this November.

Jo Francis asked Nigel Toplis, of the Bardon Group which includes the Kall Kwik and Recognition Express franchises. She reported he said: “It comes across as a knee-jerk reaction. It seems like desperation, there doesn’t seem to be a plan, there’s no strategy. There’s nothing in there about regenerating the economy.”

The head of the trade group BPIF Charles Jarrold commented: “What’s particularly hard this time around is that we are heading into that Christmas period when retail and hospitality do all their business. And retail/leisure is a significant part of the print client base.”

Another print trade organisation is the IPIA. Jo Francis said their Brendan Perring said that printers fell into two broad camps: some had chosen to “hibernate” their own operations and farm out work to trade printers, while others had “taken out CBILS loans and gone for broke hoovering up work”.

Many print bosses have already downsized their workforces and made redundancies in anticipation of the furlough scheme coming to an end of October.

CVA for Jellyfish

Joe Francis in Print Week also had story on a CVA for Jellyfish Solutions in Hampshire a print management firm.

She wrote: “Creditors of Jellyfish Solutions approved the CVA (Company Voluntary Arrangement) proposal last month. Jellyfish is based in Fair Oak, Hampshire. Its services include print management for book publishers alongside commercial print products such as brochures, guides and flyers. It also offers consulting services.

“The business is run by husband and wife team Richard and Amanda Ankers. The proposal stated that unsecured creditors would be likely to receive a more than ten-fold better return if the CVA was approved, than if the business was liquidated. Creditors have agreed to the deal that should see them receive 37.42p in the £ over three years, compared to an estimated 3.22p should the business have gone into administration.

Insolvency practitioners Andrew Andronikou and Michael Kiely of Quantuma are the joint supervisors of the CVA. Jellyfish was founded nearly 15 years ago, originally with backing from Ashford Colour Press, where the Ankers had both worked.”

Print Week reported th the Covid-19 pandemic had decimated sales, with client spending on hold and some of its biggest customers in travel, sport and leisure canning their promo plans altogether.

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