The ghost of Polestar reappears as Peter Andreou returns to the industry - setting tongues wagging

The ghost of Polestar reappears as Peter Andreou returns to the industry - setting tongues wagging

Those with long memories have raised a few eyebrows at the news the ex-Polestar man Peter Andreou had taken control of print outfit Printstore.

The reason for the interest is of course Andreou’s past record in the industry as he had been previously chief executive at Circle Media Group which went to the wall in 2019 as well as chief operating officer at Polestar which collapsed in 2016.

Peter Andreou. Pics: Print Week

Concerns raised

Ian Carrotte of ICSM said naturally there are concerns in the industry. One wag told ICSM  while paraphrasing Lady Bracknell in Oscar Wilde’s play The Importance of Being Ernest that: “To lose one massive print company is unlucky, but to lose two is carelessness.”

Writing in 2019 about the end of Circle Media Print Week’s Jo Francis wrote: “Former Polestar chief operating officer Peter Andreou  took over as chairman and chief executive officer at the then-CirclePrinters business in the summer of 2016, with fresh investors backing his ambitious plan to lead the consolidation of the European printing industry. That plan now lies in tatters.”

Two major failures

Polestar had been a major player in magazine printing supplying a string of high profile clients from Hello Magazine to the Daily Mail. It’s slow motion collapse as one rescue deal after another fell through left the industry in a mess with unpaid suppliers and workers out of a job.

Peter Andreou moved to Circle Printers which suffered a similar fate two years ago raising questions about the executive - although Ian Carrotte said there was a bigger picture.

“We have to accept that the industry has been contracting in some divisions,” he said, “back in the 1970s and 1980s before the internet the print industry was buoyant and as some would put it – it was a licence to print money. I don’t subscribe to that view but it was easier then. All of the giants of the industry like Polestar, like the Johnston Press, like Headley Brothers in Kent have got into difficulties for three main reasons. A decline in print sales, inherited debt and a failure to be nimble enough to switch to areas that are profitable like packaging.”

He said that although for some people – those who make comments on social media – Peter Andreou is ‘a person of interest’,  but printing firms are not like football teams where a new manager can kick start a comeback or send them into collapse.

Ian Carrotte said: “With some in the industry predicting the print will see a 10% decline in sales once Covid is over it is no surprise that more firms will fold. And when furloughing goes prepare for a sharp rise in business failure. For many in the business it is about managing decline and looking for new areas for expansion. There is no magic formula unfortunately.”  

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Print Week

Jo Francis of Print Week reported on Andreou's role at the Kingston-upon-Thames firm that employs 14 staff and has sales of around £2.7m.

She quoted him as saying: “The management team are brilliant. I have no intention to micro-manage the business. My role will be to broaden the markets that Printstore works in, to network and bring in business – we’ve already won a £500,000 packaging contract that was previously produced in China.”

Jo said: "He said the business had performed comparatively well during lockdown, and had a loyal customer base. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. Andreou acquired the business through holding company Pta Investments, and has just agreed a new Printstore debenture with Close Brothers."

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