FRP Advisory has confirmed to Printweek that Michelle Elliot and Anthony Collier have been appointed joint administrators of Sign Plus, which supplies signs for a wide variety of markets, including the defence industry, and is based in Dalgety Bay, Fife.
The appointment date was last Friday (3 November), according to the notice of administrator's appointment, filed at Companies House.
Sign Plus provides a full design, manufacture, install, and maintenance service for a range of industrial, commercial, and public sector clients, including the Ministry of Defence.
The company also operates Lofthus Signs in Aberdeen, which specialises in engraving and vehicle graphics; and Jasmine, which provides a wide range of print, signage, and creative display services and is also based in Aberdeen plus has a satellite office in Peterhead.
Sign Plus employed 21 staff located in Dalgety Bay, Jasmine had nine staff in Aberdeen and two in Peterhead, and Lofthus Signs employed 18 staff in Aberdeen.
The operations have all ceased trading and FRP Advisory said 50 employees had been made redundant. Two staff have been retained to assist the administrators.
“The administration has been caused by serious cash flow problems stemming from rising operational costs,” the joint administrators' statement said.
“The business has now ceased trading and the assets will be marketed for sale. The joint administrators are asking parties interested in acquiring the assets to contact the Glasgow office of FRP Advisory as soon as possible.
“The joint administrators will provide the staff with as much support as possible including making any claims with the Redundancy Payments Office and engaging with support agencies such as PACE.”
Joint administrator Michelle Elliot commented: “Sign Plus and its specialist divisions, Lofthus Signs and Jasmine, are long-established and highly regarded end-to-end suppliers of commercial design, print, graphics, and visual branding solutions.
“The business has been adversely affected by rising operational costs and unsustainable financial problems with administration being the only option.”
Multiple sources have informed Printweek that staff at the affected companies were not paid for October.
Phones are now ringing out or going to voicemail at all three businesses and Printweek had been unable to get hold of PFI Group CEO Darren McMurray at the time of writing, with calls also going to voicemail.
FRP said the other companies within the PFI Group are not in administration and continue to trade.
But multiple sources close to the situation have told Printweek to expect imminent updates on other group companies including Signmaster, also based in Scotland and understood to be owed money by other group companies.
A source close to the situation said: “So many businesses and lives have been ruined because of this.”
Separately, FRP has also reportedly been on site at Works Manchester in order to 'triage' the movement of cash within that business on behalf of the invoice finance provider.
PFI Group acquired Works Manchester via Rymack Sign Solutions in May 2022 in a £3m-plus deal, but then failed to make the phased payment schedule.
This morning (10 November) Software Circle (formerly Grafenia) CEO Gavin Cockerill told Printweek: “Our priority in any scenario is to maintain supply and service levels for our network and to get paid what we’re owed. If continuing to support Works Manchester helps us achieve both of those, then that's what we’ll do.”
Meanwhile, a final Gazette notice just filed at Companies House for registered company PFI Capital Ltd, which McMurray is listed as sole director of, states the business has been dissolved via compulsory strike-off. The notice states the strike off date of this company as 7 November 2023, and the dissolution date as 14 November 2023. A first Gazette notice for compulsory strike-off had been filed in August.
Also in August, PFI Group subsidiary Mardan Products ceased trading as the group restructured into three divisions, with all the employees – understood to be around a dozen – made redundant.
FRP handled this case as well as that of sister company Futurama, which went into administration in May.