Software Circle says a fond farewell to brand

US firm snaps up iconic domain had "a special place in our hearts"

Software Circle has sold its domain name for nearly £2m but has also been hit by yet more costs related to the collapse of Works Manchester. was the original name of the print franchise business founded by Tony Rafferty, and which listed on the Aim market 20 years ago.

It subsequently became a trading style of Grafenia, now Software Circle.

Software Circle has sold the domain to acquisitive US group JAL Equity Corp for £1.8m ($2.27m).

The deal involves a $230,000 payment on completion, with the balance of $2.04m to be paid “on or before” 31 July.

Software Circle CEO Gavin Cockerill said the brand had “a special place in our hearts for many reasons. It is, after all, where it all began”.

However, since Nettl was launched eight years ago many of the group’s partners have migrated to that platform, which has an increased range of services.

“That's meant fewer and fewer PDC [] partners over those years and more and more Nettl partners.

“As that trend and focus continues, we find ourselves saying a very fond farewell to Thanks for the good times, old friend. It's been emotional,” he said.

“We expect the majority will upgrade and become Nettl partners. Those who don't, can continue using the software platform to run their business as a white label partner,” Cockerill explained.

JAL Equity Corp has made a raft of print, merchandise and marketing acquisitions in the US, and its existing e-commerce brands include and

Regarding the fall-out from the collapse of Works Manchester under the disastrous ownership of PFI Group, Software Circle has also become liable for unpaid rent arrears at the Trafford Park production site, because it was the guarantor of the lease. Settling with the landlord for the arrears, along with ongoing rent for the remainder of the lease term and dilapidations has cost the group a further £620,000.

Software Circle said that its remaining deferred consideration related to the sale of Works Manchester to PFI had now been written off. This, together with outstanding charges due from Works Manchester and net of trading balances due to PFI Group that have been set off, has resulted in a net charge of £240,000.

At the end of last year Software Circle upped its impairment charge relating to the deal to more than £2.2m.

Software Circle remains on the lookout for further niche software buys, and the group is currently in discussions with two potential targets, with combined sales of around £3m.

Its share price reached a new 52-week high of 19.25p following the announcement (low: 7.92p).