Future ownership of Spicers Office Team in question

Paper manufacturers and print suppliers are watching anxiously after the future ownership of Spicers Office Team (SPOT) was called into question due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Office Team: print management service spans wide range of print
Office Team: print management service spans wide range of print

The office supplies and services group is owned by Jon Moulton’s Better Capital private equity fund.

Office Team is a nationwide distributor of stationery and office supplies, and its business services include print management.

Spicers supplies and distributes office products and office furniture.

The group owns PADS Printing & Commercial Stationers.

Sky News reported that Better Capital was working with advisers to urgently find a buyer for the business, but that a pre-pack sale had not been ruled out.

Today, SPOT chief executive Steve Horne issued a statement in response to the article.

He said: “Due to the significant impact Covid-19 has had on trading, Spicers and OfficeTeam are looking at strategic options to take the business forward. As with many businesses at this time, as a precautionary measure whilst the board continues to explore all options, staff have been informed that jobs may be at risk and we are looking to start consultation; but we can confirm there have been no redundancies.”

With regards to the Sky News article, he said the company being up for sale was “not new news”.

“As a company we are backed by a private equity company [Better Capital]; and therefore we have always been ‘on the market’ and open to a sale as this is naturally how private equity backed companies operate.”

“The Board of Directors are exploring a number of options whilst we continue to review the way forward. This will inevitably cause speculation in the press and throughout our industry.”

The group had sales of £281m in its most recent accounts, for 2018, and made a near-£26m operating loss after restructuring its network following the acquisition of Stat Group and Zen Office, as well as cost inefficiencies due to some large contract wins.

SPOT’s previous banking facilities expired in January 2020. This has been extended to July 2022, with stock worth £6m pledged against the new facility.

A year ago the business sold Waterlow Business Supplies and subsidiary Oyez Professional Services, which had sales of £4.9m and a combined operating profit of £1.7m.

Last month Better Capital described SPOT as being “in a difficult period with its business affected by the widespread and unprecedented effects of the pandemic”.

“The recent performance has been quite mixed with Chinese supply largely restored, protective equipment demand very strong and issues affecting smaller market participants all positives. On the other hand, bad debt, actual and potential and deeply uncertain demand are considerable negatives.

“There are obvious operational challenges. Management has reacted energetically to reduce fixed cost and improve liquidity. The company has a stronger balance sheet than many of its competitors which is helpful.”

Better Capital concluded: “In common with many other businesses at this time the future for SPOT is uncertain. Much effort is being applied seeking to ensure a satisfactory future for the business.”





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