2016 and all that... Polestar: six months of mayhem

Nick Mansley
Monday, December 12, 2016

No guesses as to which story dominated the news in 2016, the 20 most read stories on printweek.com for 2016 are all about Polestar...

5 January Polestar appoints a new chief financial officer with a long track record in working for private equity companies on business turnarounds and profit improvement programmes, would this be enough to save the business?

27 January Proventus Capital Partners appoints four directors to Polestar Print Holdings, including a former Quebecor executive. Things start looking up when Polestar wins back the Express Newspapers supplements work previously printed on the continent in a deal that encompassed some 125 million magazines a year...

19 February Polestar renews its contract to print two weekly supplements for Guardian News & Media, but loses two others that the publisher decided to print in-house...

8 March News breaks that the company is planning to close down one of the web presses at its Bicester plant...

23 March Polestar is said to be in talks to pre-pack for a second time…

24 March …which is confirmed the following day when Polestar is bought by Proventus Capital Partners... 

1 April Not many laughs to be found this April Fool’s Day as a PricewaterhouseCoopers report into the sale of Polestar reveals that owner Proventus Capital Partners injected a further £11m into the group in December after Sun Capital declined to provide further funding. It also shows that disruption at Polestar Sheffield had cost the print group several million pounds. In the following weeks the business strives to persuade customers and suppliers to continue dealing with the new company. PwC filings reveal that Proventus acquired the group for £65.93m and it was not marketed for sale because “it would have had a detrimental impact on the value achieved for creditors”...

7 April Nevertheless it loses major publishing client Immediate Media to arch-rival Wyndeham Group... 

8 April …and the following day Telegraph Media Group serves notice that it is to move its gravure-printed titles to Prinovis… 

22 April Polestar claims its has secured more than 90% of its key customer contracts, but on...

25 April …just a month after Proventus bought the group, Polestar UK Print and Stones-Wheatons go into administration. Speculation begins about the 5 million magazines Polestar produces each week for DMG Media will be printed, with fears that £100m of work could move overseas…

26 April Unite raises concerns that the loss of print contracts to continental printers will result in a large number of UK job losses…

27 April It is revealed that unsecured creditors from the period prior to the pre-pack sale of the business in March are owed more than £235m... 

28 April Wyndeham owner Walstead Group and Prinovis confirm interest in buying parts of stricken group... 

29 April Time Inc’s Guy Gleysteen arrives from the US to try to sort out the crisis in the publisher’s supply chain created by the administration… 

3 May PwC confirms that 183 redundancies have been made at Polestar sites, while potential buyers have been seen on-site scoping out the factories… 

5 May Some employees are fearful of immediate closures as another 30 employees are laid off at Polestar Wheatons… 

6 May Polestar’s rapid disintegration prompts the BPIF to review its involvement in the Pre Pack Pool…

9 May PwC begins assessing a number of bids for the business… 

17 May Chief executive Barry Hibbert is reported to have been made redundant by PwC… 

18 May Group sales director David Gray joins CirclePrinters to drive UK sales... 

20 May Production is still underway at Sheffield, with Hello! magazine being a key focus of attention, but on…

24 May …workers at the site are told the facility would cease operation by 31 May… 

26 May Workers at Chantry agree new terms and conditions in a move that could seal a deal for new ownership by YM Group and save more than 150 jobs at the site… 

1 June YM Group confirms that the deal to rescue Polestar Chantry had been finalised…

4 June Wyndeham Group owner Walstead rescues Polestar’s Bicester operation with a deal to buy the equipment at the site and re-employ more than 300 staff... 

7 June Time Inc agreed a new sole supplier deal for its UK magazines with Wyndeham Group following the disintegration of Polestar… 

10 June Printing of Hello! magazine moves to CirclePrinters in Belgium… 

13 June A management buyout of the Polestar Stones and Wheatons sites saves 150 jobs… 

27 June PrintWeek reveals that Time Inc had helped to bankroll Walstead’s acquisition of Polestar Bicester’s assets... 

 

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