End of the line for historic print firm

Long-established Thomas Loughlin (Liverpool) is shutting down after almost 130 years in business.

The Merseyside print finishing business was established in 1891 and originally produced accounting ledgers using specialist machine ruling techniques.

Its current product range included a number of miniature products such as z-fold leaflets, and miniature stitched and perfect bound products. Via its printer clients it produced work for a number of big brands including Tesco, Nike, Levi’s, Coca-Cola and Diageo.

Managing director Tony Aspey, who started work at the company as an apprentice machine ruler and binder in 1965, said a combination of factors had led to the closure.

“I was 70 a few weeks ago and I’ve decided to retire, and there is no succession,” he said

“There’s been a massive decline in the large litho work we used to handle, everyone’s going digital and doing their own finishing in-house. We were probably the oldest perfect binder in the country and that’s non-existent now,” Aspey stated.

“In addition over the last 18 months at least five litho companies have gone bust owing us money, with a related loss of turnover.”

Aspey declined to go into further details, but Printweek understands the firm is being wound down in an orderly fashion, with its 20 employees made redundant at the end of last year.

During its history Thomas Loughlin produced many high-profile jobs including large, leather-bound and gilded books to commemorate royal visits. These included a three-foot tall book to mark a commemorative visit to Merseyside by the Queen, which required a special bull skin of the required size to be imported from Germany.

Update: response Thomas Loughlin (Liverpool) managing director Tony Aspey

After 55 years in the trade, I have decided to retire as I turned 70 years of age in November and would like to spend time with my family.

I am very disappointed to have closed this long standing company but have no choice as the losses in the perfect binding sector were crucial and extremely damaging. This started some two years ago with the liquidation of Printfine Merseyside, who took us for a large amount of cash and four times that in turnover. They were quickly followed by another four or five companies who were all large litho and struggling, and, as we all know in this industry, large litho is in demise, unless you have specialist regular accounts. Our large 16-station binder was only active for approximately two days per week for the last two years, yet all staff were retained, despite a crippling payroll.   

May I now move on to your comments section, where you will notice that all of these accusations are coming from the same two former employees who are father and son.

They have seen fit to vilify me personally on social media and Printweek, including leaving disgusting vile messages on the old work answerphone which I still retain. 

This included an accusation of me having ‘screwed over’ my handcraft bookbinder, preventing him from getting redundancy pay twice. For the record he was self-employed using my equipment, and my company as a base, and was therefore never eligible for redundancy pay, being self-employed. Anyone with an ounce of common sense would realise this.

Having spoken to the directors of the clients the ex-employee mentioned, such as Wood Richardson and Printroom etc, with whom I have had long standing relationships, they insist they have not made the comments suggested, and are disgusted that their names have been used in posts on this site, without their permission. They welcome a call from Printweek to verify, as it seems the lies being aimed at myself should be returned to the point of origin.

Furthermore in answer to the comments regarding the opening up of a new business, I have a lot of plant and equipment, which I own. My son enquired as to whether he could use it in the future and would have liked to have run a much smaller operation. For this reason he took a shelf company TL2 at Companies House, which has never traded, has no bank account, and no premises. Basically it is a dormant company.

I refuse to waste any more time trying to defend myself and good name, but would ask all those persons who have commented, accused, or assumed to take a step back and listen to the other side of the argument before putting pen to paper and supporting the tirade of abuse. These disgruntled ex-employees were never tied to my company, and were free to leave at any time. But, it would appear, they never aspired to the hardships, stress or difficulties of starting up, owning or being in business.

Due the seriousness of these allegations, including social media posts and accusations against myself, family, and staff members, the police have been informed. All those responsible have been reported.

You will notice that the same two ex-employees are the only ones out of my entire staff to have perpetrated the ‘defamation of character’ and have not been backed up by or supported by any other member of my staff, who I know would come back in a heartbeat if I had continued to trade. I really appreciate their continued messages of support in difficult times. They are fantastic workers, special people in their own right, and I would highly recommend their future employment. Many have contacted me to express their total disgust.

May I sincerely thank all my peers and friends in the industry for their kind messages of support.

Yours sincerely,

Tony Aspey


Please note: comments on this story are now closed due to the investigation.