Smith Cooper to oversee administration of UK print firm

25 February 2019 2 min. read
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Professional services firm Smith Cooper has been installed as the administrator for ailing print firm Pressroom Plus. Dean Nelson and Nicholas Lee will now seek to sell the company, which is still trading as a going concern, with the future of 19 staff in the balance.

Colchester-based printing firm Pressroom Plus has fallen into administration following a sustained period of poor results, and increased pressure on British businesses relating to the unresolved Brexit process. For the nine months to 31 May 2018, Pressroom Plus’ most recently published accounts saw it post sales of just under £4.7 million – a large boost from £3.1 million for the prior year. However, it was only able to translate this into a small pre-tax profit of £17,478, having made a loss of £229,071 the previous year. This saw the firm succumb to liabilities including bank debt of £1.1 million, trade payables of £1.2 million, and negative equity of £541,236.

Before its collapse, Pressroom Plus offered a one-stop shop for a range of printing hardware, including litho, digital and screen printers. According to its website, it was one of the largest independent dealerships of its kind in the UK. Industry news outlet PrintWeek reported that Pressroom’s Managing Director Ian Richardson had said the firm was experiencing “business as usual” in response to news circulating that employees had not been paid, and that an insolvency event was imminent. The company began administration proceedings a day later. 

Smith Cooper to oversee administration of UK print firm

Now, professionals from consulting and auditing firm Smith Cooper will look for buyers of the firm’s assets, which include a staff of 19 people, a warehouse and ink mixing facility in Colchester, and a site near Nottingham where blankets are converted. This may prove difficult, however; while sources close to the firm claim two parties are apparently interested in purchasing parts of the Pressroom, one industry expert has described the printing market as “awful”. The printing industry has been hit hard by Brexit uncertainty – something which may hinder sales attempts.

He told PrintWeek, “The market was so down in January, it was an awful month, and if you rely on invoice discounting everything falls off a cliff. With the exchange rate as it is, unless you put prices up 20% you’re losing money. It’s going to put so much pressure on plate, ink and paper prices.”

Joint administrators Dean Nelson – Smith Cooper’s Head of Business Recovery and Insolvency – and Nicholas Lee of Smith Cooper clearly have their work cut out if they are to secure the future of the Essex company, then. In the meantime, however, Pressroom is continuing to trade as usual. The hope is that the firm can be sold as a going concern, and this tactic will be pursued by administrators for the foreseeable future.

According to Dean Nelson, “At present, there have been several expressions of interest, and negotiations continue to take place. We will strive to secure the best outcome for all involved, and will ensure employees and stakeholders are updated in a timely manner.”