A 150-year-old Stratford printing firm has collapsed into administration with the loss of 24 jobs – just six months after being bought out by a Birmingham rival.
Edward Fox Printers, whose high-profile clients included The Royal Shakespeare Company, Paragon and Centro, has closed its doors after failing to halt a slide in sales, according to its administrators Poppleton & Appleby.
Edward Fox Printers was founded in the 1860s, incorporated in 1930 and later became part of NFU Mutual before undergoing a management buyout in 1995. When its previous owner decided to leave, the business was bought in July by printing group Pinstripe, a Birmingham operation founded in 1998 by chartered accountant and businessman Nigel Lyon.
Pinstripe, whose clients include Mitchells & Butlers and Bentley, is not in administration. Its buyout of Edward Fox was made possible with the aid of a £300,000 working capital facility from Absolute Invoice Finance.
At the time of the deal, the new owners declared they wanted to increase combined turnover of the two firms from £4.5 million to £5.5 million within 12 months and see Edward Fox expand to a £2.5 million turnover venture by the end of 2011.
Market forces put paid to that ambition.
Edward Fox Printers’ administrator Matt Hardy, of Poppleton & Appleby, said: “The company has ceased trading immediately and sadly has had to lay off its 24 staff. It is a well-established name in the region, but the print industry has been going through testing times,” he said.
“Management at the firm had instigated a comprehensive business improvement plan earlier this year but it was not enough to increase the order book and that, combined with very tight margins in the industry, proved too much.”
Edward Fox had a comprehensive in-house studio, pre-press, print, finishing and delivery facility as well as a stock, store and distribution capability.
Poppleton & Appleby is now compiling a report into the company’s affairs before contacting creditors.
The collapse comes as the printing market shows some signs of stabilising after a very tough couple of years.
According to a recent survey by print body the British Printing Industries Federation a third of firms had started to see an improvement in their market.